In support of the 16 ex-detainees call for Commission of Inquiry to investigate their detentions, TOC republishes this article which first appeared in TOC on May 20, 2009.
“You have got powers of detention without trial. You say you want security. But there are also other important considerations for our country. We have to ask the question: What sort of Singapore do you really want? You have to tell the people. Do we want a Singapore where only because of a slight dissent against the Government, people are arrested? Do you want a country that has a widespread fear, apathy?”
When Parliament sat on July 1987, Mr Chiam See Tong tabled a motion calling for the release of the alleged Marxist conspirators detained in May of that year. He was then the only opposition Member of Parliament (MP), JB Jeyaretnam having run into legal trouble the year before. It thus fell upon him to call for the detainees’ release in Parliament.
For a full day, Parliament debated the motion he tabled:
“That this House calls upon the Government to release immediately the 15 persons detained under the Internal Security Act for allegedly being involved in a Marxist plot to destabilise the Government.”
As People’s Action Party (PAP) MPs lined up to speak against the detainee’s release, he stood his ground. However, the conclusion was a foregone one.
To add injury to the insult of defeat, his motion was amended to congratulate the government:
“That this House supports the prompt action of the Government in arresting those involved in the Marxist conspiracy and supports the Government’s intention to release them as soon as they are rehabilitated and are unlikely to resume their subversive activities”.
The Online Citizen reproduces transcripts from the sittings. They have been edited for brevity.