Former ISA detainee Ms Tang Fong Har was emotional when she spoke at the SDP’s Silenced No Longer forum. She choked up with tears when she said that after 23 years away from Singapore, she could not renew her passport to return home.
Ms Tang, a lawyer with Singapore’s Law Society when Mr Francis Seow was its president, was speaking via the Internet from Hong Kong. It was the first time that she had done so since her release from detention.
Ms Tang also said that she could not bring herself to write about her ordeal under detention. She had shelved away all the documents and didn’t want to even look at them. But after the forum yesterday, Ms Tang said that she was encouraged by the support and would write about her experience as a detainee.
Her announcement was warmly welcomed by the crowd who applauded several times during her presentation.
Ms Tang’s husband is from Hong Kong. She mentioned that when they were talking about marriage, one of her requests was for their family to reside in Singapore. “It turns out that I am the one who is not allowed to stay in Singapore.”
Filmmaker Mr Martyn See read out a passage that Ms Tang described about an incident when she was hit across the face by a male ISD officer by the name of S K Tan. “Do you still have a grudge against people like S K tan?” asked Mr See.
“Yes, I still have a grudge against S K Tan. In fact I have a grudge against a long list of people,” the former lawyer said without hesitation.
These people have done much wrong and there needs to be justice, she added. She repeated the call for a commission of inquiry to be held so that the truth can be revealed. Several of the 1987 detainees have openly defied the PAP, calling for an inquiry. The Government has steadfastly refused to call for such an inquiry.
Ms Tang was no exception. She said that if the Government has evidence against her, it should produce it in a court of law and not resort to cowardly measures like detention without trial where prisoners are tortured and confessions extracted.
She singled out Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam who was associated with some of the 1987 detainees. Tharman was also brought in for questioning by the ISD but was not detained.
Mr Tharman should know whether his contemporaries were Marxist conspirators or not. “Tharman was almost a victim of the ISA himself. He should have the courage to do the right thing,” said Ms Tang. She also mentioned former minister Mr Dhanabalan who had indicated that he disagreed with the detentions when he was in cabinet.
Ms Tang indicated that she would be visiting Johor Bahru to see her 80-year-old mother later this year. She would be reunited with her family for the first time since her departure from Singapore.
She concluded by encouraging everyone in Singapore to continue working to abolish the ISA and bring about a free and democratic Singapore. She doubted she would be allowed to enter Singapore anytime soon but quickly added, “But if I am given the okay, I would take the next flight home tomorrow.” The applause rang out long and loud.