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Chee Siok Chin
Ms Teo Soh Lung has broken her long silence about her cruel detention under the Internal Security Act with the publication of her memoir
Beyond The Blue Gate: Recollections of A Political Prisoner.
Ms Teo was arrested in May 1987 together with 21 other church and social workers, accused of hatching a Marxist-inspired plot to overthrow Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his ministers.
In truth, Operation Spectrum was used by the PAP to crackdown on dissent that it had perceived as growing within the legal and social communities against its oppressive rule.
After more than 20 years, Ms Teo has written a very readable book that chronicles events from the moment the ISD officers arrested her at home to the day she was released and everything in between.
Launched this past weekend, the near-400 page tell-all reveals in detail the former detainee’s experiences during her imprisonment, including Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s role in the whole affair, and her cruel and inhumane treatment in the hands of the ISD officers. Below is a brief excerpt from the book:
And so it continued. The team of interrogators came in shifts. I noticed that they were all well dressed, contrary to my impression of interrogators in police stations. Some officers used the gentle technique, others the shouting style. They would coax and reason and they would be unreasonable and loud.
There was one big man who asked why David Marshall, Singapore’s Ambassador to France, had such high regards for me. Marshall was a well-known criminal lawyer before he joined the diplomatic service and I had served my pupillage under him. I looked at the officer’s face and believed that he wouldn’t use his hands. But I looked at his knuckles and they told me he knew karate. I was afraid. He was DSP Benny Lim.
There was one male officer who came in and shouted something. My answer did not satisfy him or rather he was not prepared to be convinced. He gave me four hard slaps. I stared at him and he challenged loudly if I was going to remember his face and complain. I did not respond. The slaps sent a gush of hot blood to my face. I could feel a stinging warmth. After slapping me, he walked out of the room.
During the launch which was attended by more than 200 people, Ms Teo said that like rape victims, the scars and trauma of the detention remained with her all these years. The script was written several years ago but it didn’t make its way to the printers until now. She had finally found her voice.
History, they say, is written by the victors. But truth can only be authored by the victims.
And the truth is beginning to surface with regularity. First there was Comet In Our Sky, a book compiled by the late Lim Chin Siong’s political colleagues, that recounted how Mr Lee Kuan Yew was aided by the British to thwart his arch-rival Lim from becoming Singapore’s premiere leader.
Then Mr Said Zahari released his double-volume (Dark Clouds at Dawn and The Long Nightmare) recounting his 17 years of imprisonment by the PAP Government. This was followed by an interview he did with Mr Martyn See which the Government has banned. All of Mr Said’s accounts debunked the myth that the PAP ordered the arrests becuase of national security concerns. Rather, it was to cripple opposing voices so that the PAP could continue its undemocratic rule.
Last year, a few of the 1987 detainees got together to publish That We May Dream Again to reveal even more cruelty of the regime.
Even the quiet Mr Vincent Cheng was ready to speak at a seminar at the National Library a few weeks ago only to be banned by the authorities. Mr Cheng was accused by Mr Lee of being the chief culprit behind the Marxist plot.
Former long-term detainees Drs Lim Hock Siew and Poh Soo Kai have also begun to speak up with Dr Lim memorably insisting that Mr Lee Kuan Yew must apologise to him first before he would shake the Minister Mentor’s hand.
Now Ms Teo has come up with her book that will continue to push back the PAP’s domination of the narrative. Eventually the truth will be revealed and all will learn of the proper history of this Republic of Singapore.
With this publication, Ms Teo Soh Lung has done our nation a great service.
Beyond the Blue Gate is available at Select Books (Tanglin Shopping Center), Kinokuniya Bookstores (Ngee Ann City) and Ethos Book.