Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Thum and Operation Coldstore

Probably the hottest bouncing ball in Singapore right now is the ongoing back and forth with respect to Thum Ping Tjin's paper on Operation Coldstore which he claims was politically motivated contradicting the Singapore governments position that claims it was to prevent a communist plan to mount an armed struggle against the state and as such the arrests where in the interest of state security.

In a twist of irony, it was the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods that brought out the debate of Operation Coldstore. Thum Ping Tjin submission to the committee accused the government of being the arbitrator of fake news itself, specifically referencing Operation Coldstore. His appearance at the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods resulted in what has been discribed by some as a six hour grilling of Thum Ping Tjin's original research paper.

That was shortly followed by an open letter addressed to the chairman of the Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods in the defence of Dr Thum Ping Tjin and academic freedom with 284 signatories worldwide. The reaction to this open letter was to accuse them of being foreign actors attempting to “influence and subvert Singapore’s parliamentary processes”. Indeed Thum himself has been suspected of engineering academic support for himself. Since then Thum has maintained that his arguments on Operation Coldstore remain substantially unchallenged while yet others have stated that claims of attempting to influence or subvert parliamentary process are clearly preposterous.

Soooooo ......... why all the kerfuffle?

Well Operation Coldstore was a turning point in Singapore's history ultimately leading to, for first time, a fully-elected government led by Lee Kuan Yew, whose People’s Action Party (PAP) was voted into power with a strong majority. Lee Kuan Yew has been described as the father of Singapore and is effectively responsible for the position that Singapore as a country currently enjoys. And while there is no doubt of the many great things he accomplished for Singapore, this ongoing debate on Operation Coldstore effectively undermines the foundation on which his government was established.

Needless to say, it has polarised Singapore net-citizens from those who support Thum's position, those that do not, and those who are on the fence saying it is impossible to decide who is right unless more information is released into the public domain. And as more information becomes available with respect to the arrests made under the then PPSO (now ISA) act, such as "Evidence showing Lim Chin Siong’s detention was wrongful emerges", it seems that more questions than answers are appearing.

So, to give this whole debate some context, in a country where even a single individual can be charged with unlawful public assembly this bouncing ball is riveting stuff!