The dispute over the the letter by Archbishop Nicholas Chia to Function8 (F8) over the 1987Internal Security Act (ISA) detentions raises serious questions aboutthe PAP Government’s involvement.$CUT$
Whether the Archbishop had given theletter to F8 in support of the detainees’ efforts to clear their names and to call for the abolition of the ISA, and whyhe subsequently withdrew it, is not of importance as far as thecountry is concerned. It is a matter for the Church and F8 to resolve.
What is important is that after theletter was issued, the Government intervened with Deputy PrimeMinister and Minister for Home Affiars (MHA) Teo Chee Hean summoningthe Archbishop for a lunch meeting, a meeting which the MHA has not denied.
The MHA’s subsequent accusation of F8being disrespectful of the Archbishop by “leaking” the story is ared-herring. It is meant to distract Singaporeans from the realquestion of why the DPM called the Archbishop up for the meeting.
In the first place, there is noevidence that it was the F8 that revealed that Archbishop Chia hadwritten the letter. In fact, F8 has been respectful ofArchbishop Chia: they did not publicise the letter at the time it waswritten but sought to ascertain his wishes about it and they havesince refused to publish the letter, deeming it already returned tothe Archbishop’s possession.
What must be the focus in this matter is the meetingDPM Teo had with Archbishop Chia. To assure the public that the Government did not intervene unjustly, Mr Teo must answer the following questions:
1. Why did he call the Archbishop for themeeting?
2. What transpired between him andArchbishop Chia at the meeting?
3. Was there someone else present? Why washe/she present and what was his/her role there?
Singaporeans must remember that theex-detainees have said that they were tortured and subjected toextreme psychological abuse. As a result of their incarceration,their careers were destroyed and their families torn apart. They wereaccused of trying to violently overthrow the Government, a crime thatcarries capital punishment.
Either the detainees are lying or thePAP Government has done them grave injustice. To get at the truth, atransparent and public inquiry is long overdue. If the detainees arefound to have lied, then they must be punished under the law. But ifwhat they have said is the truth, then the PAP Government must beheld accountable.
The SDP, therefore, calls onMr Teo to address the public on the crucial issue of his meeting withArchbishop Chia. The public has the right to know.