This week, we have seen a reopening of a contentious debate in Singapore’s History – the ISD detentions of 1962, with Dr Poh Soo Kai giving a lecture at the Australian National University and PM Lee responding with a Facebook post showing evidence that Lim Chin Siong was a Communist.

I agree that no one should be detained indefinitely without trial, especially for an offence one did not commit. Since the former detainees under the ISA and recent historical research have alleged that they were wrongly accused of being Communists and were treated badly during their detention, the only decent thing that should be done is for the PAP government to investigate these claims through a neutral party, and if these allegations are indeed found to be true, to apologise at the very least to these detainees and hold those responsible for the abuses accountable according to the law.

However, the response by the Left to PM Lee’s Facebook post has been irresponsible.

Patrick Low and Teo Soh Lung’s response to PM Lee’s post was this – so what if Lim Chin Siong was a Communist? After all, he was an anti-colonial fighter. In case I am accused of plucking words out of thin air, these are the quotes from Teo Soh Lung and Patrick Low in their articles here:

“For more than half a century, Singaporeans have been told that communists were dangerous people and that they indulged in violence. The government conveniently omit to tell us that it was the communists who fought and died for Malaya during World War II and that Chin Peng was honoured by our colonial master soon after the war.”

and here:

“I see Dr. Poh Soo Kai as a heroic anti-colonial fighter who was charged for sedition by the British colonialists when he was a student at the then University of Singapore. His “crime” then was to publish an anti-colonial article in the Fajar newspaper.”

What Teo Soh Lung wrote in her article is tantamount to whitewashing Communism and the Communists in Malaya. In the context of her article,
the message is this: “The Communists are not that bad after all. They fought for our independence and are deserving of our respect and gratitude”.

This message is irresponsible because if anything, history has shown that the Communists have been anything but freedom fighters and liberators. During the Malayan Emergency, the Malayan Communist Party were known for brutally murdering anyone suspected of collaborating with the British. Radical Left and Communist movements claim to be fighting American imperialism in Indochina,Central and South America but as soon as they take power, they massacred political dissidents or jailed and tortured them.

Mao promised the Chinese people freedom. Lenin promised “bread, land and peace”. But as soon as they took power, their promises turned out to be empty rhetoric and whoever who opposed them were butchered or sent to to the gulag. The Soviets even claimed to be fighting the Nazis as “liberators”, but as soon as they took over Eastern Europe, they established puppet governments which carried on where the Nazis left behind in their reign of terror.

Acts of Communist atrocities have been documented by those who lived them, such as George Orwell, Jung Chung, Ion Mihai Pacepa and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. There is no such thing as a peaceful communist, because the flesh and blood of communism, as with other radical leftist movements, is the rejection, unmaking and the eradication of existing society and order, which is why communists often impose reigns of terror and sweep away any semblance of the old order as soon as they assume power.

Neither is there anything heroic about the article “Aggression in Asia”, as claimed by Patrick Low, which was supportive of the worst regimes of the twentieth century, such as Mao Zedong’s China and Kim Il Sung’s North Korea. In fact, to call the article anti-colonial is misleading because it supports Soviet imperialism in Korea and Chinese colonisation of Tibet and Xinjiang, which were independent entities prior to Mao’s takeover in 1949.

I am not writing this article to attack or discredit the Opposition. They have valid points on issues such as press freedom, CPF, healthcare and HDB reform.

But this article is written to call out the irresponsible statements by some among the Left-wing segment of the Opposition concerning Communism, and to set the record straight about Communism.

It is one thing to call out for justice after suffering alleged abuse and wrongful detention. But it is another to whitewash some of the most brutal tyrants in history and their apologists.

If Dr Chee Soon Juan is truly for freedom and democracy, I urge him to speak out on Teo Soh Lung’s apologia for Communism. I also urge supporters of the Opposition to continue to engage the PAP in debate on their policies, but also oppose the radical left segments among them.

Ronald Tan

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