excerpted from Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss’ blog ‘In My Own Words‘:
I hear that some people who saw the exchange (between Tan Jee Say and Tony Tan on Face to Face 2) are saying that it was “unpresidential” for TJS to have “lost his cool” at TT’s interjectory remarks.
But other people are also asking: was it dignified for TT to have suddenly cut in while TJS was speaking?
I am intrigued by the spontaneity by which TT reacted when TJS said: “the history is such that it has been used for political purposes…”. TT’s sudden interjection sounded like a buzzer, warning TJS that he was crossing an imaginary OB marker.
The specific issue under discussion was the detention under the ISA in 1987 of 22 alleged Marxist conspirators. If the ISA was indeed abused to detain without trial one innocent person for even one day to serve political purposes, it should be enough to arouse our strident indignation at the injustice done.
These 22, one of whom was detained for 3 years, have consistently protested their innocence, asserting that their incarceration had been politically motivated. In fact, the public space is replete with books and articles written by many ISA detainees from different times, including several of the 22, giving evidence of their innocence and the political motivations behind their detentions. (See for example, “Time to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and abolish the ISA” an article written by Teo Soh Lung who was detained for 2.5 years under the ISA, posted on the internet on 19 August 2011.)
In 1991, our former Attorney-General Mr Walter Woon said in an interview to the Straits Times: “As far as I am concerned, the government’s case is still not proven. I would not say those fellows were Red, not from the stuff they presented…I think a lot of people have this scepticism.” In 2001, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam told the Straits Times: “Although I had no access to state intelligence, from what I knew of them, most were social activists but not out to subvert the system.”
Recently, Mr Goh Chok Tong revealed in the book “Men in White: The Untold Stories of the PAP” (SPH 2009) that former National Development Minister S Dhanabalan left the Cabinet in 1992 because he was not comfortable with the way the 22 had been dealt with in 1987. “At that time, given the information, he was not fully comfortable with the action we took…he felt uncomfortable and thought there could be more of such episodes in the future…he’d better leave the Cabinet. I respected him for his view,” Mr Goh said.
So I think it is fair to say, that the way the ISA has been used, is controversial.
Read the entire article HERE.