Chronology of the ‘Plot’

21 May 1987

16 people were arrested in a pre-dawn raid carried out by the Internal Security Department. They were Vincent Cheng Kim Chuan, Teo Soh Lung, Tang Lay Lee, Teresa Lim Li Kok, Kenneth Tsang Chi Seng, Jenny Chin Lai Ching, William Yap Hon Ngian, Tay Hong Seng, Chia Boon Tai, Kevin Desmond de Souza, Ng Bee Leng, Mah Li Lin, Chung Lai Mei, Tan Tee Seng, Low Yit Leng and Wong Souk Yee.

26 May 1987

The Singapore Government alleged in a press statement that the 16 were arrested for their involvement in a ‘Marxist conspiracy’ to subvert the existing social and political system so as to establish a “Marxist state” and that that Vincent Cheng was the central figure in the conspiracy. The 16 were involved in church organisations, theatre, student organisations, opposition political party, Singapore Law Society and community work.

27 May 1987

The detainees were allowed half-hour visits by their families and  lawyers.A solidarity mass was held by Archbishop Gregory Yong and 23 priests to pray for the detainees and their families. 2500 attended.

31 May 1987    

Pastoral letter supporting the Church workers was read in all Catholic churches.

2 Jun 1987       

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew met representatives of the Church including  Archbishop Gregory Yong.

4 Jun 1987      

Fathers Joseph Ho, Patrick Goh, Guillaume Arotcarena, Edgar D’Souza resigned from all their positions in church organisation.

5 Jun 1987      

Archbishop Yong suspended the four priests from preaching.

9 Jun 1987       

Vincent Cheng’s pre-recorded ‘confession’ was televised on prime-time state television.

17 Jun 1987   

Fan Wang Peng,  Acting President  of Singapore Polytechnic Students’ Union was forced to resign from her position under threat of expulsion from the polytechnic.

Tan Wah Piow’s book “Let the people judge: Confession of the most wanted person in Singapore” was launched in London. In a press release, he said his book documented his claim that the government fabricated the communist conspiracy for partisan ends, and that he is willing to “be publicly interrogated by its officials in a neutral place, in the presence of independent observers from the media, church, law society and academic institutions.”

20 Jun 1987

Vincent Cheng was served with a 2-year detention order. 11 others were served with 1-year detention orders while Tang Lay Lee, Ng Bee Leng and Mah Lee Lin were released with restrictions and Jenny Chin Lai Ching was released without restrictions. On the same morning, another 6 persons were arrested. They were Tang Fong Har, Chng Suan Tze, Chew Kheng Chuan, Ronnie Ng Soon Hiang, Fan Wan Peng, and Nur Effendi Sahid.

28/29 Jun 1987   

A 2-part `documentary’ was televised entitled `Tracing the Conspiracy’.

19 Jul 1987         

Of the 6 who were arrested on 20 Jun 1987, 3 were  released with restrictions while Tang Fong Har, Chng Suan Tze, and Chew Kheng Chuan were served with 1-year detention orders. That same evening, Singapore TV broadcasted a 30-minute ‘news special’ featuring them.

12 Sep 1987        

Tang Fong Har and Chew Kheng Chuan were released under suspension directions.

26 Sep 1987        

Chng Suan Tze, Chung Lai Mei, Kevin Desmond de Souza, Low Yit Leng, Tan Tee Seng, Teo Soh Lung and Wong Souk Yee were released under suspension direction.

20 Dec 1987       

Chia Boon Tai, Teresa Lim Li Kok, Tay Hong Seng, Kenneth Tsang Chi Seng and William Yap Hon Ngian were released under suspension directions, leaving only Vincent Cheng Kim Chuan in detention.

18 Apr 1988     

9 ex-detainees (Teo Soh Lung, Kevin Desmond de Souza, Tang Lay Lee, Ng Bee Leng, William Yap Hon Ngian, Kenneth Tsang Chi Seng, Wong Souk Yee, Chng Suan Tze, and Tang Fong Har) issued a joint statement:
(a)  denying the Government’s allegation of their involvement in
the “Marxist conspiracy”;

(b) asserting that they were ill-treated while under detention in
1987; and

(c) stating that their TV ‘confessions’ in the 2-part ‘documentary’
were made under coercion.

19 Apr 1988       

All the signatories except Tang Fong Har, who was then in the UK, were re-arrested. A lawyer, Patrick Seong Kwok Kei who acted for several of the detainees in 1987 was also arrested on the same day. Soon after, Patrick Seong Kwok Kei and 7 of the signatories applied for writs of habeas corpus.

21 Apr 1988   

Teo Eng Seng, brother of Teo Soh Lung, filed a complaint with the police, alleging ill-treatment suffered by Teo Soh Lung while under detention in 1987.

DPM Goh Chok Tong in a press conference promised to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the detainees’ allegations of ill-treatment.

23 – 27 Apr 1988

Patrick Seong Kwok Kei, William Yap Hon Ngian, Kenneth Tsang Chi Seng, Ng Bee Leng, Kevin Desmond de Souza, Chng Suan Tze, Wong Souk Yee, Tang Lay Lee,  Chew Kheng Chuan,  Tan Tee Seng, Low Yit Leng, Teresa Lim Li Kok, Chia Boon Tai, Tay Hong Seng and Teo Soh Lung signed statutory declarations.

Statutory Declarations were signed by 3 relatives of detainees stating that Chew Kheng Chuan was forced to make a statutory declaration the day before.

29 Apr 1988   

The Government released a statement stating that it will not set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the allegations of ill-treatment.

6 May 1988        

The High Court adjourned the hearing of applications for writs of habeas corpus filed by Patrick Seong Kwok Kei, Ng Bee Leng and Teo Soh Lung who were represented by Francis Seow Tiang Siew and several other lawyers.

Francis Seow Tiang Siew was arrested when he visited Whitley Detention Centre to interview his clients. He did not meet his clients.

7 May 1988        

The Government expelled US diplomat, Hank Hendrickson, accusing him of meddling in local politics.

8 May 1988        

Chew Kheng Chuan was re-arrested.

18 May 1988      

The High Court heard and dismissed the applications for writs of habeas corpus filed by Tang Lay Lee and Ng Bee Leng.

19 May 1988      

Tang Lay Lee and Ng Bee Leng were released under Restriction Orders. Patrick Seong Kwok Kei was released unconditionally.

25 May 1988      

The High Court heard and reserved judgement on the applications for writs of habeas corpus filed by Kevin Desmond de Souza, Wong Souk Yee and Chng Suan Tze.

27 May 1988      

The High Court dismissed the 3 applications. All 3 appealed.

5 Jun 1988         

Francis Seow Tiang Siew was served with a 1-year detention order.

19 Jun 1988        

William Yap Hon Ngian was released on Restrictions Order. Kenneth Tsang Chi Seng, Teo Soh Lung, Wong Souk Yee, and Kevin Desmond de Souza were served with fresh detention orders for another year.

27-30 Jun 1988   

The High Court heard and reserved judgement on Teo Soh Lung’s habeas corpus application. She was represented by Anthony Lester, QC assisted by Roslina Baba, Patrick Seong and several local counsel.

16 Ju1 1988        

Francis Seow Tiang Siew was released on Suspension Direction.

19 Ju1 1988        

The detention orders of Chng Suan Tze and Chew Kheng Chuan were extended for another year.

2 Aug 1988       

The High Court delivered judgement, dismissing the application of Teo Soh Lung. She filed an appeal.

26-29 Sep 1988  

The Court of Appeal heard and reserved judgement on Teo Soh Lung’s appeal.

24-25 Oct 1988

The Court of Appeal heard and reserved judgement on the appeals filed by Kevin Desmond de Souza, Wong Souk Yee and Chng Suan Tze.

8 Dec 1988     

The Court of Appeal delivered judgement allowing the 4 appeals on a technical ground. The 4 were immediately re-arrested outside the prison gate and served with fresh detention orders. All 4 filed fresh applications for writs of habeas corpus.

25-30 Jan 1989   

Parliament amended the Singapore Constitution and the ISA in order to exclude judicial review of ISA cases and abolish appeals to the Privy Council.

20 Feb 1989        

Kenneth Tsang Chi Seng and Chew Kheng Chuan  were released with restrictions.

24 Feb 1989        

Kevin Desmond de Souza, Wong Souk Yee and Chng Suan Tze withdrew their habeas corpus applications.

6 Mar 1989      

Teo Soh Lung’s fresh application for writ of  habeas corpus was heard and judgement reserved.

10 Mar 1989       

The Government banned Anthony Lester QC  from practising in Singapore.

11 Mar 1989       

Kevin Desmond de Souza, Wong Souk Yee and Chng Suan Tze  were released on restriction orders.

25 Apr 1989   

The High Court dismissed Teo Soh Lung’s application. She filed an appeal.

20 Jun 1989    

The detention orders of Vincent Cheng Kim Chuan and Teo Soh Lung were extended for another year.

21 Jun 1989      

Vincent Cheng Kim Chuan filed his application for writ of habeas corpus. He was finally allowed open family visits i.e. family members were permitted to see him in a room rather than in separate rooms seeing each other through a glass pane and using the intercom.

11-15 Sep 1989  

The High Court heard and reserved judgement on Vincent Cheng Kim Chuan’s application for writ of habeas corpus. 6 Oct 1989

Teo Soh Lung was allowed open family visits.

13-17 Nov 1989

The Court of Appeal heard Teo Soh Lung’s appeal. 31 Jan 1990

The High Court dismissed with costs Vincent Cheng’s application for writ of habeas corpus.

3 Apr 1990     

The Court of Appeal dismissed with costs, Teo Soh Lung’s appeal.

1 Jun 1990 

Teo Soh Lung was released on Suspension Direction.

19 Jun 1990 

Vincent Cheng was released on a Suspension Direction.

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