By Sam Tan Chin Siong
Minister of State (Prime Minister’s Office)
Just read this letter by Mr Ho Juan Thai defending his decision to run away from Singapore in 1976. In the letter, he did not explain why the Police wanted to question him.
Please allow me to set the context on Mr Ho’s leaving Singapore: Mr Ho had made inflammatory speeches in GE 1976 as a Workers’ Party candidate. He had said that the Government was out to “exterminate” Chinese education in Singapore and “wipe out” the Chinese language, and that the achievement of the Government was the “killing of Chinese education”. These statements are on public record.
In multi-racial Singapore, such allegations were reckless and irresponsible then as they would be now. Mr Ho’s remarks could have caused divisions in society and sowed distrust between the English- and Chinese-educated. This could have torn apart our fragile social fabric then.
Mr Ho also makes contradictory claims: on the one hand, that he was a victim of police intimidation, and on the other, that he was willing to turn himself in for questioning. These are contradictory and unconvincing reasons for him absconding to Malaysia, from where with the help of Tan Chay Wa (a Communist Party of Malaya cadre later sentenced to death in Malaysia for possessing firearms), he ended up in London.
Mr Ho had forged his passport to enter the UK. He himself had proudly said so in another open letter in 1982. Yet Mr Ho now expects to be issued a new Singapore passport.
Mr Ho’s flight from Singapore is remarkably similar to Mr Tan Wah Piow’s. (TOC has published Mr Tan’s letters too.) Mr Tan ran away from Singapore on a similarly flimsy excuse: his alleged fear that “accidents” would occur to him in National Service. Mr Tan fled with the help of comrades, some of whom were involved with the CPM. He entered UK using his expired Singapore passport with a forged extension endorsement. His British friend, Malcolm Caldwell — a far left activist and staunch supporter of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge (a ruthless regime that killed millions of innocent Cambodians) — helped him obtain a student visa. While in London, he continued to agitate for his communist compatriots, including Tan Chay Wa. These facts are also on public record.
It is also revealing that after Mr Ho absconded to London, his WP colleagues then did not make much fuss on his behalf nor did they similarly abscond to other countries. Why did they not do so, or run away like him, if there was such a pervasive climate of intimidation?
Mr Ho’s actions, as well as the Workers’ Party’s inaction on his behalf, speak louder than Mr Ho’s open letter.