Singapore

Ex-detainees launch book, call for end to ISA

A group of former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees launched a book to mark the 30th anniversary of their arrests and called for the ISA to be abolished.

They were part of a group of 22 activists rounded up under Operation Spectrum in 1987 for being part of what the Government called a Marxist plot aimed at overthrowing it.

The book, 1987: Singapore's Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On, was launched at The Projector cinema at Golden Mile Tower yesterday. The event was organised by civil society group Function 8.

The book contains essays from 36 contributors, including detainees who detailed their experiences.

A documentary on the events surrounding the arrests, 1987: Untracing The Conspiracy, was screened before the launch.

Among the 200 people present were opposition politicians including Workers' Party MP Chen Show Mao and Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan.

After the screening, four former detainees - Ms Low Yit Leng, in her 50s, Ms Chng Suan Tze, 68, Mr Vincent Cheng, 70, and Mr Kenneth Tsang, 64 - took questions.

"After all the experiences that we have, even 30 years after the episode, we (Singapore) still are not in any way attempting to abolish the ISA," said Mr Cheng.

Mr Tsang said Singapore should learn from Asian countries such as South Korea and Taiwan, which have become "great powerhouses" both economically and in terms of democratic freedoms.

Historian Thum Ping Tjin, also spoke, urging the Government to release evidence for the Operation Spectrum arrests. He said: "Thirty years is a reasonable amount of time where we begin to get perspective on the past."

The Government had previously said it would not scrap the ISA as it remained "relevant and crucial" to keep the country safe and secure.

- THE STRAITS TIMES

WORKERS’ PARTYChee Soon JuanSouth Korea