Monday, 25 September 2023

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Singaporeans should not be forced into exile

by Teo Soh Lung

It is very sad that the Late Prof Lim Chong Yah’s daughter, Lee Suet Fern and her husband, Lee Hsien Yang, are not able to return to Singapore for his funeral.

We all know that Suet Fern went through the Law Society’s disciplinary process which culminated in her suspension from practice by a three-Judge Court.

We also know that not being satisfied with the punishment meted out by the court, a punishment which I completely disagree with, she and her husband were harassed by the police with the usual knock on the door which activists frequently encounter. Government officials can say what they like about their leaving Singapore.

But why they decided to leave is something that the government have no right to comment on as they know exactly why they left.

Lee Suet Fern and Lee Hsien Yang are not the first Singaporeans compelled to leave their country of birth and unable to attend their parent’s funeral. Many before them did not return to attend their parents’ funeral much as they had wanted to.

When Tan Wah Piow’s mother died, he did not return to attend her funeral. Wah Piow, as we all may know, was accused of being the leader of an alleged Marxist conspiracy in 1987.

The High Commissioner in London who happened to be a friend of Wah Piow called him to express his condolences. He advised Wah Piow that he was free to return to Singapore but he could not guarantee his safety.

Lai Maylene, too was not able to return to Singapore when her father passed away.

Maylene was the subject of intense debate in the Singapore Parliament for daring to campaign against the arrest and detention of 22 people under the Internal Security Act in 1987.

Besides Wah Piow and Maylene, Tang Fong Har, who was issued a warrant of arrest for breaching one of the conditions stipulated in the Restriction Order, also could not return to attend her father’s funeral. So too, were Francis Khoo and Francis Seow, who did not return to attend their respective mother’s funerals.

Singapore is a first-world country and is supposed to be a democratic country.

Why are native-born Singaporeans forced into exile? It does not reflect well on the Singapore government when citizens are compelled to leave their country of birth. I don’t think there is another developed country that makes exiles of its citizens.

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