More than 2,500 Singaporeans have been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) since the 1960’s. The ISA, which allows the arrest and indefinite detention of citizens without trial, is a blunt national security instrument open to abuse by governments which can use, and have used, it in the decimation of legitimate organisations and individuals opposed to their social, economic and political directions.
25th Anniversary of Operation Spectrum
“Operation Spectrum” was mounted by the Singapore government on 21 May 1987 under the ISA. Sixteen individuals were arrested in the first wave, with another six detained soon after. Two of the lawyers (including a former Solicitor-General of Singapore) who represented these individuals were subsequently detained as well. The 24 arrested were mainly professionals such as lawyers, journalists, community and church workers and entrepreneurs.
The government alleged that the detainees were ‘Marxist conspirators’, without giving them the right of defence in an open court. Instead, public “confessions” were elicited under the threat of indefinite detention without trial.
These “confessions” were repudiated in a press statement by nine of these individuals some months after their release. Eight of them were immediately re-arrested the next day, while the ninth signatory was in England at the time of re-arrest.
Nothing substantial or credible was ever produced to corroborate the government’s allegations. Later documents showed even greater ambiguity in the reasons behind the detentions in 1987. An injustice was perpetuated and continues to linger to this day.
Function 8 Limited and MARUAH as well as other civil society organisations, have come together as partners to remember the 25th anniversary of Operation Spectrum through a series of activities.
A session themed That We May Dream Again. Remembering the 1987 “Marxist Conspiracy” will be held from 3pm to 7pm on Saturday 2nd June, 2012 at Speakers’ Corner, Hong Lim Park.
Amongst other activities, survivors of the 1987 ‘Marxist Conspiracy’ will be sharing stories of their lives before and after their detentions with members of the public.
We hope these activities would:
a) Raise awareness on the misuse of the ISA in the past;
b) raise awareness of the danger on the continued existence of the ISA which may lead to
complacency of the authorities in dealing with real security threats to our country;
c) work towards the abolition of the ISA; and
d) persuade the government to welcome the return of those who have been forced into exile because of the ISA, such a move being the first step towards national reconciliation and healing for all parties.