Why Chiam See Tong should be an inspirational figure to all Singaporeans - Alvinology

Why Chiam See Tong should be an inspirational figure to all Singaporeans

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Jude.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestierte.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

(Pastor Martin Niemöller, 6 Jan 1946)

Via wikipedia:

Operation Spectrum (光谱行动) was launched on May 21, 1987 by Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) using its Internal Security Act (ISA). A second wave of arrests took place on Jun 20 in the same year. The security operation saw 22 young Roman Catholic church and social activists and professionals detained, without trial, under the internal security law, accused of being members of an alleged Marxist conspiracy bent on subverting the PAP-ruled government by force, and replacing it with a Marxist state.

After they were released, several of the detainees issued a statement countering government denials that they had been tortured. They were promptly rearrested. They were later released only on condition that they sign statutory declarations denying everything they had said in their earlier press statement.

Via The Online Citizen:

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”.

You can read more of the parliament transcripts via The Online Citizen.  Chiam was fighting a one man battle against a sea of whites in parliament, yet he soldiered the burden with quiet, unwavering moral conviction.

This is a man with balls of steel. I am not mincing my words here. Mr Chiam See Tong deserves the utmost respect from all Singaporeans for speaking for the voiceless.

It was my privilege to have him as my MP for 23 years out of his 27 years representing the Potong Pasir single member constituency.

Mr Chiam greeting supporters at the 2011 General Elections
Mr Chiam greeting supporters at the 2011 General Elections

One can claim to aspire to be the “heart of the nation” or the “voice of the people” on an election platform, but it’s a different thing altogether when put to the real test.

Chiam had nothing to prove back in 1987 when he defended the detainees in Operation Spectrum. What he had was moral courage and the conscience to do the right thing.

If Chiam was eligible to run in the recent Presidential Election, my vote would have gone his way without a doubt.

I am ending this post with a video of Chiam during his younger years, participating in a debate on the Elected Presidency back in 1992:

[youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i75GECNtEh0″]

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