May 26, 1987
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We refer to the statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs regarding the investigation into a “clandestine communist network” and the arrest of 16 persons, in the early hours of May 21.
The statement makes some very serious charges regarding all the 16 arrested persons. Four of them are full-time Church workers. They are:
Vincent Cheng Kim Chuan, Executive Secretary of the Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission.
Ng Bee Leng, full-time staff of the Catholic Centre for Foreign Workers (formerly the Geylang Catholic Centre).
Tang Lay Lee, full-time staff of the Young Christian Workers’ Movement.
Kevin Desmond De Souza, full-time staff of the Catholic Students’ Society of the Singapore Polytechnic.
We find it hard to believe that any of these Church workers are involved in a “clandestine communist network”.
Among the 16, there are also 6 connected to Catholic Church organisations as volunteers. They are: Mah Lee Lin (Chai Chee Catholic Centre), Teo Soh Lung (Catholic Centre for Foreign Workers), Kenneth Tsang, Tan Tee Seng and their respective spouses, Jenny Chin Lai Ching and Low Yit Leng (Justice and Peace Commission).
If the government has any proof or evidence to support these serious allegations, we ask that these “proofs” and “evidence” be made available for public scrutiny.
If these charges are alleged to be proven by confessions or admissions by any of the 16 during the time of their detention, we ask: under what circumstances were these confessions and admissions obtained?
We wish to know if these confessions and admissions have been given under any form of duress, coercion, intimidation, threat, fear or inducement.
The Catholic Church at large and more particularly the Church organisations with which these Church workers have been connected demand to know the whole truth immediately. We want to get to the bottom of this whole issue.
We need all the evidence and data available to make our own assessment of these grave charges.
We want to study the statement carefully, before making any further comments.
We wish to state that Marxism/Communism is a godless ideology and therefore, as an ideology, philosophy and a way of life, it is incongruous with and contradictory to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his Church.
We know these four Church full-time workers to be fully committed to the work of the Church organisations and to Christ in his option for the poor and underprivileged. Until we have adequate proof and concrete evidence that they were involved in a “marxist conspiracy to subvert the existing social and political system in Spore through communist united front tactics to establish a communist state”, we will continue to believe that Vincent Cheng Kim Chuan is not a communist/marxist and that the three others are not what the government statement makes them out to be.
As for the 6 voluntary workers, they contributed their time and energy to specific work in the Catholic organisations they were associated with in accordance “with the objectives of these Catholic organisations.
The worship service (a Catholic Mass) planned for tomorrow is still ON. The Mass will take place at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour at 8.30 pm tomorrow (Wednesday May 27). We will continue to pray for all those detained and their families.
Fr Edgar K.D’Souza
Official spokesperson for:
The Archdiocesan Commission for Justice and Peace; The Catholic Centre for Foreign Workers;
The Catholic Students’ Society – Singapore Polytechnic; and The Young Christian Workers Movement.
Father D’Souza can be contacted at The Catholic News office, 55 Waterloo St, S’pore 0718 (tel 338-1521. After hours he can be contacted at the following number: 339-3179)