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Muslim prisoners equals “terrorist detainees”?

WarOnTerrorAndDrugs

By Teo Soh Lung

Since reading the speeches of Minister for Home Affairs, Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Foreign Affairs, K Shanmugam (Hansard of 7 October 2014), I have been in a state of gloom.

This morning, Alex Au’s latest article, “PAP went on trial last week” finally compelled me to write this note.

Alex said: “I have said before: the PAP would rather destroy Singapore than lose power. This party is shaping up as a mortal threat to the state as we would like it to be, and to democracy.

Alex is right. Singapore’s past have given us ample evidence of the destructive nature of the People's Action Party (PAP).

Nanyang University, our one and only Chinese university, respected throughout South East Asia and built with the hard earned savings of Singaporeans was reconstituted and disappeared together with the University of Singapore, the university which I graduated from and which Lee Kuan Yew viewed with disdain.

For him, only the University of Cambridge counts. Chinese dialects were snuffed out, depriving my parent’s generation of entertainment and news from the unique radio station, Rediffusion. Just because the PAP leaders favoured the English language, they wiped out every other language. Old historic buildings like the National Theatre and the National Library were torn down leaving generations without the happy memory of the past.

The laws were not spared with a parliament of PAP members. Punishments were made harsher without regard to its impact on society. New laws were introduced to do away with the rule of law and ensure that the power to judge and impose punishment on offenders do not rest with the judiciary but with the executive. Generations of patriotic leaders who would have brought new ideas and create a better and more equal and harmonious society were imprisoned without trial.

The PAP does not care about the retention of languages, culture, historical buildings and laws. They do not care about us, the people. It is a selfish party that only takes care of itself. In their speeches in parliament, the two ministers justified their use of the ISA without producing any evidence of threat, internal or external against Singapore. Opposition party member, Mr Low asked an irrelevant question about the background of those in Syria and even that, Minister Teo evaded answering his question in full.

Mr Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied): Madam, I have a clarification for the Deputy Prime Minister. I recall the Deputy Prime Minister’s answer which said that there were some Singaporeans in Syria. I would like to know how many Singaporeans are there. What is their background: are they new citizens and how many of them are Singapore citizens and how many of them are PRs?

Mr Teo Chee Hean: When I said that there were Singaporeans, I meant Singapore citizens. We know of two specific individuals who are there. We do not know exactly where they are. We believe that they are still there.

Singapore has lived with the ISA since 1948 when the British without good reasons, proclaimed a state of emergency on this island and went on witch hunts of alleged communists and pro-communists. The law was then known as the Emergency Regulations and later, the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance. Thousands were incarcerated or banished from our shore. The PAP in its early days, condemned the use of this law and called for its abolition. But when they came into power in 1959, they not only used this unjust law to the full, they made it worse for its victims. They did away with the independent review of ISA cases by a panel of three judges who had the power to order the release of prisoners and replaced it with a toothless advisory board made up of one high court judge and two civil servants who have no power to order the release of any prisoner. In other words, they undermined our judiciary by making use of our high court judges to lend credibility its use of the ISA. Finally in 1989, the PAP amended the ISA again. It abolished judicial review for ISA cases ending whatever hope a prisoner may have of being released by our judges.

Ministers Teo and Shanmugam warned of ISIS and referred to yet another American war on terror in the UN. They boasted about their joining forces with America and the international community and warned Singaporeans by saying,

“…The escalation of violence in Syria and Iraq over the last three months has further increased these threats to Singapore… Where necessary, the Internal Security Act (ISA) will be used in order to pre-empt and neutralise these terrorism threats to the security of our citizens and our country.”

They brought in religious groups to justify the imprisonment of Muslims under the ISA. Minister K Shanmugam said: “The Singapore Government has supported and worked with our religious leaders, community groups and individuals to rehabilitate terrorist detainees and to de-legitimise radical ideologies. This must continue and we must remain vigilant.”

Minister Shanmugam calls the Muslim prisoners “terrorist detainees”. He should know that those in prison today were never tried in a court of law and have never been proven to be terrorists. Calling them “terrorist detainees” in parliament without a shred of evidence and while they are still in prison is cowardly conduct. They cannot respond and the religious groups who are said to be looking after their interest are unlikely to respond too.

That the PAP have this incorrigible habit of labelling ISA prisoners without evidence is well known. In 1987, PAP ministers and MPs called me and my friends “Marxists and pro-communists”. In the 60s and 70s, prisoners were called “communists, pro-communists and euro communists”. Today, they are labelled “terrorists,” in line with Bush’s war on terror after 9/11. It is the most fashionable term and will certainly terrify all law abiding people.

To justify the use of the ISA in Singapore for wars taking place in the Middle East is to tell the people of Singapore that this law will never be abolished as long as the PAP is in power. It is to say that as long as there is war anywhere in the world, Singapore will retain the ISA. I cannot foresee a day when the world will be completely at peace.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass.

The PAP will want to keep the ISA to ensure that they remain in power forever. Let us not forget the warning of the late Dr Lim Hock Siew that “they are going to use the ISA as a reserve weapon to safeguard the PAP’s interests. I believe they would have the stomach to use it if they are faced with the grim reality of losing the elections. After all, Lee Hsien Loong is groomed by Lee Kuan Yew. Monitored and mentored. When faced with reality he will use it. He might provoke you. And then use it as an excuse to arrest. I hope it will not be used but I think it will be their reserve weapon.”

Do we do nothing and let the PAP continue to have and use this reserve weapon? And will the generations after us blame us for doing nothing for them?