Last Saturday, a group of activist held a protest on trains along the North South Line to stand in solidarity with the 22 individuals who were detained by the Singapore government 30 years ago under the Internal Security Act and urge the government to come clean on the matter.
At 12:10 am of Monday (5 June), TODAY newspaper reports that “a police report has been lodged against a protest on Saturday (3 June) on an MRT train, and the police have confirmed that they are looking into the matter.” (emphasis mine)
It added, ‘In response to TODAY’s queries, the police said: “Anyone with information can submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential.”’
Note that the newspaper reports that one police report has been reported but does not state how the newspaper got to know of the police report being made or who made the police report, whether it is someone who wrote to the newspaper or did the person posted the information online, or was the newspaper being told of someone having made a police report. Neither is the report written with a by-line indicating who was the one who filed the enquires to the police.
Following closely after the report of the protest by Today, is another report about Thomas Chua Poh Heng who had been arrested for shop-theft. Chua had been in the news for making uncalled for remarks on a traffic police officer who died in an accident but was not arrested for his offensive Facebook post.
One might assume Today made the enquiries for both the reports but Channel News Asia in its version of the report on Chua wrote, “Thomas Chua Poh Heng, 39, was arrested for alleged shop theft at a department store along Syed Alwi Road, police said in a news release in the early hours of Monday.”
Based on the timing of the reports, one could also assume that the police released the information to the newspaper in the form of a press release.
Now the bewildering part of this story is that the police could have easily stepped in themselves to investigate on the protest carried out by the activists, there are no lack of laws in which the police could cite for an investigation into the activists.
So why wait for a police report to be filed before the police steps in? After all, the police got to have known about the protest when it took place.
With the police report filed by a member of public who likely did not witness the incident first hand, the police will likely be merely looking into the matter as a form of following up on the police report instead of launching an official investigation into the actions of the activist.
Detained without trial by Singapore government under the allegation of conspiracy
In May-June 1987, 22 individuals were arrested and detained without trial under ISA for their alleged involvement in “a Marxist conspiracy to subvert the existing social and political system in Singapore, using communist united front tactics, with a view to establishing a Marxist state.”
The government alleged that the mastermind behind the alleged Marxist plot was Tan Wah Piow, a former University of Singapore Students’ Union president who had been in exile in London since 1976. His “key man” in Singapore was Vincent Cheng, a full-time Catholic Church worker in the Justice and Peace Commission.
Both have denied the allegations made against them by the government.
On 18 April 1988, nine detainees who were released just a few months earlier, issued a joint statement to deny they were subversives after being forced to sign on statements that incriminated themselves through the use of torture. The next day on 19 April 1988, they were re-arrested, along with Mr Patrick Seong, a lawyer for one of the detainees.
A few weeks later, a lawyer for the detainees, Mr Francis Seow who spoke up against their rearrests in conferences abroad, was also arrested at the Whitley Road Centre where he had intended to interview Patrick Seong and Teo Soh Lung, one of the nine detainees who have been re-arrested.
30 years since then, none of the 22 detainees arrested under Operation Spectrum was charged or tried in open court. however, the government still stand by its claims on the alleged “crimes” of the detainees.