When you covet Ministerial riches and glory, you end up lying for and defending the Little Satan LIE KY
- Thursday, October 29, 2009
News and opinions from an independent perspective
Shanmugam: Singapore ISA subjected to “checks and balances”
From our Correspondent
In a speech to a meeting of the New York State Bar Association’s International Section, Singapore Law Minister K Shanmugam took pains to explain to the visiting American delegates that “the Government’s power to detain an individual without a trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) is subject to important checks and balances.”
Mr Shanmugam said that a detainee has the right to make representations to an Advisory Board, which must be considered, and is free to engage a lawyer of his choice for this.
The Advisory Board aside, members of a Board of Inspection, comprising Justices of the Peace and community leaders, can make unscheduled visits to the ISA detention facility and meet detainees.
By law, the Inspection Board must make an inspection at least once a month. Members can speak to detainees and report their complaints and concerns. Doctors examine detainees regularly, although detainees may ask to see a doctor at any time. Any injuries sustained by the detainees must be reported.
The Internal Security Act was enacted by the British in the 1950s to deal with the threat of a protracted communist insurgency. However, the Singapore government had decided to keep the Act even after the Emergency officially ended in 1960.
The Act was used to detain over 100 suspected communist members and sympathizers under “Operation Coldstore” in 1962, one of whom was Lim Chin Siong, a charismatic leader of the opposition Barisan Sosialist. He was so popular among the Chinese in Singapore that he was once considered as the future Prime Minister of Singapore.
Among those arrested under Operation Coldstore was a Barisan Sosialist MP Chia Thye Poh, who was incarcerated without trial for 32 years, the longest-serving political detainee in the world. PAP founder Dr Lim Hock Siew was detained for 19 years followed by Said Zahari with 17 years.
The next major wave of detention which shocked the free world took place in 1987 under “Operation Spectrum” which saw 22 young social activists and professionals being detained without trial for being members of a “Marxist conspiracy” bent on subverting the PAP-ruled government by force, and replacing it with a “Marxist” state.
This occurred during a time when the Malayan Communist Party had signed a peace treaty with the Malaysian government and 2 years before the disintegration of the communist bloc and subsequently the Soviet Union itself.
One of the detainees’ lawyer was former Solicitor-General Francis Seow, who was himself arrested and detained by the ISD upon arrival at the detention center. He was not released for more than two months. Francis Seow subsequently wrote a chilling account of his mistreatment during detention in his book “To catch a Tartar: a Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew’s prison”.
Seow’s account was not disputed by the Singapore government. Neither was he sued for defamation.
Most of the detainees were released in stages in late 1988 and throughout 1989, after signing statutory declarations recanting earlier allegations.
Teo Soh Lung, who had chosen to take her case to court, was held until 1990. Vincent Cheng was the last of the “Marxist conspirators” to be released, shortly after Teo.
On 18 April 1988, nine ex-detainees of Operation Spectrum released a statement saying that even though they had kept a “rueful and fearful silence” on the “unjust treatment,” they decided to make the statement now because of “the constant barrage of Government taunts and its public invitation to speak the truth”.
The statement alleged torture during their detention.
Excerpt as follows -
“…we were subjected to harsh and intensive interrogation, deprived of sleep and rest, some of us for as long as 70 hours insides freezing cold rooms. All of us were stripped of our personal clothing, including spectacles, footwear and underwear and made to change into prisoners’ uniforms.
Most of us were made to stand continually during interrogation, some of us for over 20 hours and under the full blast of air-conditioning turned to a very low temperature.
Under these conditions, one of us was repeatedly doused with cold water during interrogation.
Most of us were hit hard in the face, some of us for not less than 50 times, while others were assaulted on other parts of the body, during the first three days of interrogation.
We were threatened with more physical abuse during interrogation.”
Even until recently, the case of the alleged Marxist conspirators remains a puzzle. The detainees themselves did not fit the stereotype of the “agitators” whose activities were so troublesome to the PAP in the 1950s and 1960s.
The case was so controversial that it fail to convince some ministers and leading lawyers in the Singapore legal service.
Attorney-General Walter Woon:
“As far as I am concerned, the Government’s case is still not proven. I would not say those fellows were Red, not from the stuff they presented…I think a lot of people have this scepticism.” (Straits Times, 6 July 1991)
Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam:
“Although I had no access to state intelligence, from what I knew of them, most were social activists but not out to subvert the system.” (Straits Times, 2001)
It was revealed recently in the PAP propagandist book “Men in White” that former National Development minister S Dhanabalan had left the cabinet in the 1991 due to disagreement with how the government had handled Operation Spectrum.
Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong:
“At that time, given the information, he (Dhanabalan) was not fully comfortable with the action we took….His makeup is that of a very strong Christian so he felt uncomfortable and thought they could be more of such episodes in future. So he thought since he was uncomfortable, he’d better leave the cabinet.” (”Men in White”, page 468)
Unless Mr Shanmugam can release classified information about Operation Spectrum to lend support to his words and to debunk the allegations directed at the ISA by the ex-detainees, it will be an uphill task for him to convince Singaporeans as well as foreigners that “ISA is subjected to checks and balance”.
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READ ALSO MARTYN SEE's INTERVIEW WITH ME AT:
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MY ARCHIVE OF WORKS AT:
PHOTOS OF LIE KY SCRATCHING MY WIFE's NEW CAR:
NOT GUILTY BUT TORTURED, DEGRADED 15 YEARS FOR PUBLICITY, FUN
WHY SINGAPORE HAS NO ECONOMY