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Government has due responsibility to families affected by detention under the ISA

by Teo Soh Lung

We often forget the sufferings of the families of those arrested under the Internal Security Act.

Fortunately, in the legislative assembly on 10 April 1963, Dr Lee Siew Choc gave an account of how the families suffered when they were deprived of their sole bread winners in Operation Cold Store. How did they survive?

Dr Lee Siew Choh: The Government must not forget that many of the arrested persons were the sole breadwinners in their families. What does the government intend to do about assistance to these families that need assistance? I saw one detainee in the prison hospital (he who has pulmonary tuberculosis nad a large ulcer on his back) crying. He was extremely worried about his family and aged dependants, as he was the sole breadwinner. I asked the Special Branch officer who accompanied us throughout our visit to the prison as to what the Government was doing about financial aids to needy families. He said the families must apply to the Social Welfare for assistance. Let us ask, it is not the duty, the responsibility of government to see to the welfare of families whose sole breadwinners the PAP Government has arrested and detained?

While I am at this, Sir, let me bring out another instance of the injustice of the PAP Government. Mr Chang Chan Cuang, a teacher of the Nan Chiau Girls High School, who has an old mother and four younger brothers and sisters dependent entirely on him, was paid only four days’ salary of the month of February 2013. Even temporary staff are paid one month’s salary in lieu of notice. Why should Government be so harsh of Mr Chang?

If it was the practice for the government to pay detainees who had employment before, e.g. Cyprus, surely the PAP could do the same? Why has the PAP to go out of its way to be harsh and cruel to detainees? All the hardships suffered by families of detainees are due to PAP’s repressive actions. The Government is therefore responsible and should not shirk its responsibility. Some proper scale of allowance to the detainees’ family is urgent. Will the Government give immediate attention to the matter?

Then there are those who are detained in the Federation. Every time visits are made to the Federation, it eats into the savings of the families who can ill afford the expenses incurred in travels away from home. In this instance again, it is the Government’s duty and responsibility to see that free transport and free accommodation be provided for the families. Detainees should not have been sent out of Singapore in the first place.