Today, we commemorate the 55th anniversary of Operation Coldstore (OC). An ugly day in Singaporean politics.
Many of you will not have heard of it. Few Singaporeans and even fewer Malaysians are aware of what happened on 2nd February 1963. In the weeks that followed, 133 political leaders, activists, students, and leaders of civic organisations, were arrested in Singapore.
Some were detained, without trial, for over two decades. One of them, Dr Chia Thye Poh, an elected MP, was incarcerated for 32 years.
Two nations which are governed by fear
What happens in both Malaysia and Singapore has its roots in OC. After OC, the Singaporeans witnessed the 1974 purge and Operation Spectrum in 1987.
The draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), was retained from British colonial rule, to silence political opponents and critics. Across the causeway, Malaysian politics were also shaped by the events of 13 May 1969, which is alleged to have been started by Najib’s father, Abdul Razak Hussein.
Today, Malaysians have repealed the ISA, but it has morphed into other acts, like The Sedition Act.
You will have heard about Operation Lalang, when former PM, Mahathir Mohamad clamped down on his critics; however, in recent months, the government of Najib Abdul Razak has not been idle. It has swooped down on newspapers, social media users, reporters and ordinary Malaysians in a clampdown on free speech. Even artists and cartoonists are not spared.
Both countries are gripped by a culture of fear. Some Singaporeans point to its success as a first world nation; but what use is a modern metropolis if it is like an empty vessel, devoid of a soul?
Who is Dr Poh Soo Kai?
Singaporean, Dr Poh Soo Kai, spent 17 years in jail, without trial, and this cost him both his family life, and his career in medicine.
At the launch of his memoirs, “Living in A Time of Deception”, on May 2016, he said (2:02 min); “What we are living with today, is the fall out of the failed Malaysian merger plan”.
He was referring to the merger of Singapore and Malaya in 1963 and the subsequent separation in 1965. Lee Kuan Yew claimed that separation was a betrayal of Singapore, by Umno.
Amongst other things, Dr Poh said that the British had intervened in the affairs of many Asian states, after World War II. The main reason for the arrests under OC, was the preservation of British strategic military interests, in the region. He outlined the effectiveness of the British military base, in Singapore. He also blamed the British and said that they had to share the odium for the continuation of the detentions without trial, which followed in waves of arrest during OC.
Are Singaporeans and Malaysians aware of Operation Coldstore? What is its significance for them?
According to Singaporean lawyer, Tah Wah Piow, Operation Coldstore became a watershed in Singapore’s politics. By 1968, within 5 years of OC, Lee Kuan Yew had created a one-party state.
Tan said, “That transformation, from a society which had healthy democratic traditions in the post war period, to one ruled by a dominant party i.e. the People’s Action Party (PAP), is abominable.
“By removing all his key opponents from the political stage, and subverting the rule of law, Lee Kuan Yew managed to hijack all the institutions of the State, to serve his own political agenda.”
Did similar events occur in Malaysia? The dominance of one party. The various laws which are skewed to benefit one party. The manner in which institutions of the state have been hijacked to serve the needs of Umno-Baru.
Operation Coldstore should be remembered.
There are many links about OC. They detail the story of the inception of OC. What happened and why it happened. The events leading up to it. The many myths and the betrayals.
The articles also discuss the consequences of OC, the effects of which are still felt to this day.
In his video, Dr Poh addresses some pertinent issues, and reveals many secrets.
If you want to know why Malaysia and Singapore have ended up the way it has, ask yourself the following questions.
- Who masterminded OC? The British, Lee Kuan Yew, or Tunku? Why?
- Find out about Lim Chin Siong and his role in OC.
- Who is Said Zahari, and his significance to OC.
- Why was Dr Poh Soo Kai detained for 17 years?
- The Singaporean authorities claim that the aims of OC, were to combat a communist threat. Was it?
- What does OC mean to the Singaporean of today? Few Malaysians, are aware that OC took place.
- Is there any reference to OC in the schools’ history books, of Malaysia or Singapore?
- Why should Malaysians and Singaporeans care about OC? Did the government apologise for the wrongdoings and detentions?
View the videos below. Make your own conclusions. Read all the material you can find. If there are lessons to be learnt from the writings of Dr Poh (and others), should we heed his advice? Or are they the rantings of an embittered old man?
(Shocker: In the main video, go to minute 26:26 and Dr Poh’s allegation about interference in Malaysian affairs, for economic purposes.)