Ravi Philemon

The arrests began in the early hours of the 21st of May 1987. Within a span of a few hours, 16 men and women, most of whom were social workers, dramatists, Roman Catholic Church welfare workers and lawyers, were arrested by the Internal Security Department for being part of a ‘Marxist Conspiracy’. The government then said that the conspirators had links with Filipino leftists and proponents of ”liberation theology,” as well as with European Marxists and Sri Lankan separatists. The detainees were then accused of trying to use Roman Catholic, student and other groups to build a legal front as a cover for political sabotage.

The ‘threat’ was so real that in 1988, then Prime Minister designate Mr. Goh Chok Tong addressing a conference of the National Trade Union Conference and stressing that political stability was an essential ingredient for wage increases; pronounced that should the political conspiracy have succeeded, “you can kiss your wage increases for this year goodbye”.

But how real was the ‘threat’? For merely five weeks after the initial arrests, the Foreign Minister, Mr. S Rajaratnam complained that over 200 organisations from around the world had sent protest letters to the government indicating that they do not believe there is an internal Communist threat in Singapore.

A Statement from Lawyers Rights Watch Canada states that some of the ‘conspirators’ did not even know each other prior to the arrest. The only opposition Member of Parliament at that time, Mr. Chiam See Tong, called them “innocent young idealists.” And even the then Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Shanmugam Jayakumar who said that “critics abroad, if you want to understand the action, you must also understand Singapore’s unique circumstance and problems”, admitted that the detainees were mere novices.

If the ‘conspirators’ were mere novices, what was the real reason for the arrest and subsequent detention without trial for these ‘Marxists’?

The International Commission of Jurists, who continually called the then Singapore government “to prove this alleged ‘conspiracy’ in open court, and give those detained a fair trial”, deduced in an investigative report that the real motive for the arrests and subsequent detention without trial of the ‘conspirators’ is to quash internal opposition and criticism of the Singapore government, not to protect the security and welfare of Singapore society against a Marxist conspiracy.

Whatever the real reason, the arrests and detention without trial of the ‘Marxist Conspirators’ repressed an entire generation of young Singaporeans from involvement in any activity that could be termed “political”.

“Repression, Sir is a habit that grows. I am told it is like making love-it is always easier the second time! The first time there may be pangs of conscience, a sense of guilt. But once embarked on this course with constant repetition you get more and more brazen in the attack. All you have to do is to dissolve organizations and societies and banish and detain the key political workers in these societies. Then miraculously everything is tranquil on the surface. Then an intimidated press and the government-controlled radio together can regularly sing your praises, and slowly and steadily the people are made to forget the evil things that have already been done, or if these things are referred to again they’re conveniently distorted and distorted with impunity, because there will be no opposition to contradict.”

(Mr. Lee Kuan Yew as an opposition PAP member speaking to David Marshall, Singapore Legislative Assembly, Debates, 4 October, 1956)

Read also:

Operation Spectrum – 22 years later

Remember May 21st

Passion for activism extinguished… but not for long

May 1987 – A conspiracy un-proved

TOC Exclusive: Teo Soh Lung – In her own words (Part One)

The Marxist Conspiracy – Not forgetting the evil things that have already been done (Ravi Philemon)



“Marxist Conspiracy” revisited


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like


今日(24日),结构工程认证审查员梁邵宏(Leong Sow Hon)承认,在2017年泛岛快速公路(PIE)高架桥坍塌意外事件上,在评估审查工作上失责。 梁邵宏被指控未能及时评估、分析与审查高架桥结构设计,以及对高架桥固定枕梁支柱进行原始计算。 他是受陆路交通局所托,进行上述审核工作。 另外一项对他的指控,是在建筑工程期间伪造评估、分析与审查证明,检方将根据两项罪行依法起诉,要求判9个月有期徒刑。 2017年7月14日约凌晨3时30分,衔接樟宜东路上段和泛岛快速公路(PIE)的高架桥在兴建时,突然有部分结构坍塌,造成一名中国籍客工丧命和10人受伤。 承包公司胡金标建筑私人有限公司,去年5月30日被控涉及该意外事件,其中四人包括公司执行董事胡土发(Or Toh Wat)、公司项目主任兼技术控制员余志强(译名)与王桥海(译名)、设计顾问公司CPG专业工程师罗伯特(Robert Arianto Tjandra)。他们均违反了《建筑管制法》及《工作场所安全和健康法》里的多项规定,已交由法院审理。…

Singapore government challenges Washington Post article on POFMA in a letter, denies "suppressing anything"

The Singapore government, via its Ambassador to the United States Ashor Kumar…

Dr Wijeysingha writes to President on Vui Kong

In August 2010, The Online Citizen organized a petition-signing event at Speakers’…

杨厝港巴士转换站撞死三路人 验尸官:司机可能因心脏不适突晕厥

早前罗厘司机在杨厝港巴士转换站撞飞三名路人后伤重不治,验尸官表示罗厘司机很可能在事故发生当下由其心脏不适而晕厥的可能,并称其事故是一场不幸的交通事故。 该事故发生于2018年4月23日早上9点半左右,一辆罗厘失控撞死三名路人。罗厘司机许凯翔(译音)当时正要去拿包裹,正要转向左侧时,却撞上一辆双层巴士,然后在撞上路边的三名路人,包括死者86岁蔡庆忠和58岁的蔡爱华父女,以及63岁的男子叶顺发。 民防部队人员抵达现场后,宣告三名路人当场死亡。其中两人受困在罗厘车底,民防部队人员须使用气袋垫高罗厘把他们移出来,罗厘司机也受重伤。 司机称自己在开车途中突然眼前一片黑暗,当下也丧失了意识。随后,在供词上,他也表示案发当时因视力模糊和头部出现沉重感而意识开始模糊,司机表示当时虽然尽力睁开双眼,但却无法做到。 司机也忆述,他在意外发生前最后一件事是车子正在行驶,但当他意识清醒时才发现罗厘被撞了,他的脚也被卡住。 随后,他在去年10月时,承认无照驾驶,被判罚款1400元,此外也被判无事省释,但不等同无罪。 根据指控,他有可能因涉嫌以对公众产生危险的方式开车,以及无法对车子进行适当的控制而再加控一罪。一旦罪成,被告可能获判最高五年的罪行。 验尸官:是一场不幸交通事故 但随着7个月的调查后,验尸官公布结果,表示这是一起不幸的交通事故,排除危驾的指控,因此被告可能不会面对监禁,但目前尚不知他会否再被重新提控。 受害者家属也在法庭上告诉记者,他们不接受验尸官的结果,也将会对被告提起民事诉讼。对于被告意识不清的说法,受害者家属认为该说法与被告的口供不一致,相信他是累了而睡着,而不如他所说意识不清。 根据被告的口供,他在不到两岁时被诊断出患有严重的心脏病,他也在之后进行了三次的手术。然而,在2013年3月开始变停止追踪,并被诊断为心脏功能不错,医生也不曾警告过他不许开车。 但根据报告显示,他曾在过去几年内出现轻微的视力模糊,但他也未曾就医或通知他的雇主。…