Farewell Dr Lim Hock Siew

“Your sudden passing has left a deep void in our lives. You will always be remembered as a champion for the cause of freedom. In the interest of truth and transparency, we will continue to fight for the abolition of the ISA and the setting up of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate all ISA cases.”

On 13 January 1972, nine years into his detention, Dr Lim Hock Siew was brought before two senior special branch officers. Their purpose was to extract a “public statement of repentance” from him. They or rather their minder had obviously miscalculated or underestimated Dr Lim’s toughness, integrity and courage. Not only did he refuse to compromise, he proceeded through his wife, Dr Beatrice Chen, and lawyer, Mr T T Rajah, to issue a public statement on 18 March 1972, disclosing what transpired between him and the two high-ranking ISD officers. That statement resulted in his being detained for another 10 long years. I quote a part of that statement:

Special Branch: You must concede something so that Lee Kuan Yew would be in a position to explain to the public why you had been detained so long. Mr Lee Kuan Yew must also preserve his face. If you were to be released unconditionally, he will lose face.

Dr Lim Hock Siew: I am not interested in saving Lee Kuan Yew’s face. This is not a question of pride but one of principle. My detention is completely unjustifiable and I will not lift a single finger to help Lee Kuan Yew to justify the unjustifiable. In the light of what you say, is it not very clear that I have lost my freedom all these long and bitter years just to save Lee Kuan Yew’s face? Therefore the PAP regime’s allegation that I am a security risk is a sham cover and a façade to detain me unjustifiably for over nine years.[1]

Dr Lim’s public statement must have angered the prime minister and sent him through the roof. It probably resulted in his further imprisonment for another ten long years. He was finally released without having to sign any statement on 6 September 1982.

Dr Lim worked for the poor throughout his life. On Pulau Tekong where he was exiled for three years and on mainland Singapore he tended to the sick and even gave them transport money in cases of need. Even when he had to undergo kidney dialysis thrice a week, he attended to his patients at his Rakyat  Clinic on Balestier Road every day. Driving his old Mercedes and reversing it into a little side lane near his clinic every day was his routine.

When the prime minister of Malaysia announced that he would repeal the Malaysian ISA, former detainees in Singapore felt that it was time to call for the repeal of the same iniquitous Act. Dr Lim led the call and a public statement was issued on 19 September 2011. When the PAP government responded with the usual rhetoric, the following response was issued:

Calling for Commission of Inquiry

The Ministry of Home Affairs’  statement of 23 September 2011 contains the usual rhetoric, inundated with Cold War parlance  such as  “Communist United Front activities” and “Marxist plot”. Its intent is clearly to justify the act of arbitrary arrest under the ISA  and  instil fear in the people.

The statement fails to address the most important concern of the 16 of us, which is indefinite detention without trial. None of us was brought to trial before a court of law. Our imprisonment was solely based on the statements of ISD officers and statements extracted from us while we were subjected to torture, cold room treatment, deprivation of sleep and  the threat of indefinite detention.

Article 9 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Singapore is a signatory declares:  “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”

We reiterate that the ISA is a draconian law that allows the ruling party to arrest and imprison without trial anyone it deems a threat to its power. Its impact on Singapore over the past half a century has been both crippling and pernicious.

We call upon the Government of Singapore to set up an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the allegations made against us as well as all former ISA detainees. More so when recent publications, memoirs and panel discussions by historians and ex-ISA detainees have given accounts different from the official narrative on the events of those years. We  urge the government to have the moral and political courage to set up such a commission in the interest of truth and transparency.

Dated this 28th day of September 2011.

Dr Lim Hock Siew
Dr Poh Soo Kai
Said Zahari
Lee Tee Tong
Loh Miaw Gong
Chng Min Oh @ Chuang Men-Hu
Tan Sin alias Tan Seng Hin
Toh Ching Kee
Koh Kay Yew
Vincent Cheng Kim Chuan
Teo Soh Lung
Yap Hon Ngian
Tan Tee Seng
Low Yit Leng
Wong Souk Yee
Tang Fong Har

Rest in peace Dr Lim. Farewell.

The Fajar Generation Eds  Poh Soo Kai, Tan Jing Quee and Koh Kay Yew  The Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD) Petaling Jaya, 2010  Malaysia p 151.


About fn8org

For computers, it means to start again in safe mode. For us, we hope we can also start again in safe mode. But it's more like re-booting our systems and starting from much needed basics for democracy in Singapore.
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