’1987 Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy, 30 Years On’ to be launched on 21 May

Below is an extract from former detainee under the Internal Security Act (ISA), Chew Kheng Chuan’s essay in Function 8′s new publication, “1987 Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy, 30 Years On”.

“You know what they say ISD now stands for?” DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) SK Tan of the ISD remarked to me on April 19, 1988, not without some amusement, “Instant Statutory Declaration!”

I was arrested under the ISA the first time on June 20, 1987. After one month of being held, I was served a one-year detention order. However, in September 1987, after 3 months of detention, I was released—my detention order was suspended and I was served a restriction order—restricting my speech, movement, and my right to join any organisation. I could only travel abroad or participate in any organisation with the expressed permission of the Internal Security Department (ISD).

On April 18, 1988 we released the “Statement of Ex-Detainees of Operation Spectrum” to the foreign press in Singapore. On a slightly-mischievous nod to the failings of the local press—all seemingly un-independent mouthpieces of the government—the release to them was delayed until after they worriedly pleaded to receive their copies of the press statement.

The reaction of the government was swift. Eight of the signatories of the Statement—a statement essentially declaring their innocence of any intended subversion—were immediately re-arrested. The ninth signatory, our friend Tang Fong Har was not re-arrested only because she was out of the country at that time. And she has since, grievously—gone into political self-exile from that time and has not been able to return to Singapore in 30 years.

The other ex-detainees who did not sign the statement for fear precisely of this consequence of re-arrest—were all rounded up by the ISD for questioning.

Thus it was that I found myself back at the ISD Headquarters at Phoenix Park, rather than back again at Whitley Road Detention Centre, facing an intense barrage of questioning by DD(O) [Deputy Director Operations] Sim Poh Heng and his ISD officers.

One of many other accounts detailed in the book, ”1987 Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy, 30 Years On”. It will be launch on Sunday, 21 May 2017 at 4.30 pm at The Projector.

On 21 May 1987. 16 people were arrested and detained without trial under ISA in an operation, entitled “Operation Spectrum” for their alleged involvement in “a Marxist conspiracy to subvert the existing social and political system in Singapore, using communist united front tactics, with a view to establishing a Marxist state.”

On 20 June 1987, six more people were arrested, bringing the total number of detainees to 22.

The government alleged that the mastermind behind the alleged Marxist plot was Tan Wah Piow, a former University of Singapore Students’ Union president who had been in exile in London since 1976. His “key man” in Singapore was Vincent Cheng, a full-time Catholic Church worker in the Justice and Peace Commission.

Both have denied the allegations made against them by the government.

On 18 April 1988, nine detainees who were released just a few months earlier, issued a joint statement to deny they were subversives. The next day on 19 April 1988, they were re-arrested, along with Mr Patrick Seong, a lawyer for one of the detainees.

A few weeks later, a lawyer for the detainees, Mr Francis Seow who spoke up against their rearrests in conferences abroad, was also arrested at the Whitley Road Centre where he had intended to interview Patrick Seong and Teo Soh Lung, one of the nine detainees who have been re-arrested.

Till today, none of the detainees arrested under Operation Spectrum was charged or tried in open court and the government still stand by its claims.




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8 Responses to “’1987 Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy, 30 Years On’ to be launched on 21 May”

  • Not too late to repent!:

    Maybe Mr Sim and Mr Tan can come forward (if they are still alive and not suffered retribution yet) and admit their discretion and share with us the truth and nothing but the truth?

    If not, Singaporeans could be cursing you and your families for generations to come.

    Share the truth please and redeem yourselves please!

    GD Star Rating
  • 22 pax can't be wrong!:

    Clear the air and close the case once and for all.

    If not, it will linger on for generations to come and it will be unfair to a Mr Sim and A Mr.Tan.

    Don’t let your future generations be implicated in this plot!

    Speak up and clear the air please!

    No scare, L*Y already gone!

    GD Star Rating
  • my $8 heart bypass:

    PAPIGS inbreeding, that’s the whole story.
    They are breeding amongst themselves, and what you are seeing and getting are these duds and retards running the Govt through their nepotism and cronyism.
    Just look at how NOL is sunk by a Paper General, billions lost through Temasick with that Jinx in charge, and no bloody idea towards productivity growth these past decades.
    Happily looking at their CPF statements and going around pilfering tooth picks, that’s what you daft 70% are paying these Idiots for.

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  • LIONS:


    So,what kind of conspiracy we have now with hundreds of true red commies imported here by the PAP?

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  • Old Moon:

    To change an existing order is never easy. The price to pay is high and someone has to bear the cost.
    The pain must be unbearable for it to reach the tipping point then the time is ripe.
    For some reason, the momentum was lost leading up to the 2016 GE.
    The following had paid or paying the cost:
    - JBJ
    - Dr Chee
    Anticipate many more will have to be sacrificed before any major change can come about.

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  • Dr Tan Tai Wei:

    There have been much that has “come to light”, including classified documents released in London, publications and testimonies of purported “victims” of, if truthful, very grave injustices committed against persons, some of whom are still alive and old, during those formative, “founding” years of our nation. And there were similar “atrocities” committed even as recent as 1987. Even some among the Establishment now, such as Tharman and Dhanabalan, had had their misgivings about the 1987 episode. And LKY, in his old age and finding himself in need to “meditate”, had tried seemingly to rationalise that “I had put people in prison … it was all done with good intentions”. Assuming that was to relieve guilt feelings, he must have known that right motives do not right any unjust effects they caused. One is morally responsible, not only to act with right intention, but also to ensure, say, correct and fair judgement of the situations one is acting upon.

    Now, present PAP has said “Let’s move on”. But move on as what sort of people? They have themselves stressed our need, for us to have “national identity”, of knowledge of “from where and how we have come thus far”. Then such so-claimed “atrocities” committed during those crucial years of our past surely cannot be just ignored if we are to really know and not lie. And any defender of LKY’s political maneuverings during those days, however believable, can only be based upon so-claimed political pragmatism, necessarily at the expense of some justice. And no defender of LKY can deny how prone he had been, in terms of character, to impatience and over-kill. So, in the interest of our national identity as a people with a past we can be fully defend and be proud of, PAP today can boldly, fairly and openly re-address those past events, honourably admit to and redress any unrighted wrongs, even as they continue to say, admittedly with some truth, that as things have turned out, we have on the whole “progressed” and “benefitted” by LKY-PAP pragmatism.

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  • MarBowling:

    The MasterMind(MM) behind Operation Spectrum is Lee Kayu aka the Horrible Man. Heaven has eyes and very fair! For all the ill-treatment and suffering which he and his gang(ISA, IDA, $hits Time$, etc)had caused to those individuals and their families(Mr Tan WP, Mr Francis Seow, Mr JBJ, Ms Teo SL, Amos, Roy, Dr Chee SJ, etc)who have different political and SOCIAL views as him, karma and retribution will call on his FAMILEE and Gang sooner or later, usually ending with children of later generation born with “mo see fart” aka born without backside!

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  • Dhana Is Righeous!:

    He quit in protest!

    GD Star Rating
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