Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Arguments about “Did MCP exercise leadership in the May 13 student movement in Singapore?”

Arguments about “Did MCP
exercise leadership
 in the May 13 student movement in Singapore?”



•  Picture above shows the event in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary (1954-2014) of the May 13 incident in Singapore held at Qian Xi Restaurant Singapore (Paya Lebar). Around 800 representatives from democratic political parties and organisations as well as democrats from Singapore and Malaysia attended the event. Lim Hock Koon, who led Chinese middle school students to petition the Governor seeking exemption for military conscription back in those years and a couple of special guests had delivered important speeches during the luncheon. The book Youth On Trial specially published for this anniversary was also launched on the spot. Two scholars and a Nanyang University alumni had published corresponding commentaries before and after the event respectively.


•  Picture below shows the courageous struggle of the Chinese middle school students where they suffered brutal suppression by the police of the British colonial government when they petitioned the British Governor in Singapore for exemption from national service. They have marked a glorious chapter in the history of Malaya’s (including Singapore) student and mass movements.


【Sahabat Rakyat Editor’s Note】 An argument about “Did Communist Party of Malaya (MCP) exercise leadership in the May 13 student movement in Singapore?” broke out in the 60th anniversary commemoration of the “May 13 student movement in Singapore” this year. This controversy started off recent years when there exist different views on some major historical events and some important figures among those who involved in Singapore student movements in 1950-60s and some social movement activists. The disagreements have become more concretised and more apparent when two scholars published their articles and corresponding individuals made some remarks before and after the 60th anniversary commemoration of the “May 13 student movement in Singapore”. This has drawn the attention of those who had actively participated in the anti-colonial struggle and those who are now actively involved in the democratic movement.

Referring to a few articles that have been released and the mouth-spread news, most of the participants in this argument see May 13 as an incident isolated from other related incidents solely based on the situation they understand or materials that they have, and from their own position and perspective. With these, they then drew their own conclusion, some said that “it was (May 13 incident) related to MCP”, some said no; some said “it was led by MCP”, some said no. However, most of those involved in this debate lacked convincing facts or documents to support their argumentations and assertions. This is certainly closely related to the single-line connection approach of MCP’s underground organisation in the past, and the Lee Kuan Yew ruling clique’s imperious approach of monopolising and not revealing some important confidential documents.

The May 13, 1954 incident was obviously a collective action of Singapore Chinese middle school students petitioning the Governor of the British colonial government to seek exemption from military conscription, which signified the revolt against the National Service Ordinance. The collective action of defending their own rights desperately was rather spontaneous which could hardly be instigated by MCP or anyone. However, it is an undeniable fact that the promulgation of the National Service Ordinance by the British colonial government on 17 Mar 1954, forcing all young men between the ages of 18 and 20 to join the military service was to counter-balance the anti-British armed struggle launched by MCP in Peninsular Malaya. Therefore, today, 60 years after the incident, if someone still insists that the May 13 student movement is irrelevant to MCP, he/she is either ignorant or muddled; otherwise he/she should have his/her own agenda.

The May 13, 1954 incident is not merely an isolated collective action, it is in fact organised, goaled and properly led which had then formed the May 13 student movement. One after another struggle of the Chinese middle school students petitioning to seek exemption from conscription had raised the awareness and promoted the solidarity of the Chinese middle school students, and led to the formation of the “Singapore Chinese Middle School Students’ Union”, creating an effective force in wiping out the enemy. This effective force on one hand joined effort with the school directors, teachers and parents to strive for a peaceful and liberal learning environment and the existence and development of Chinese education (including Nan Yang University), and on the other hand joined effort with other forces such as peasant and worker’s movement, women’s movement, cultural movement etc. to struggle hard for the independence of Malaya (including Singapore), to get free from the British colonial rule.

It is an indisputable historical fact that the anti-colonisation struggle of the people of Malaya (including Singapore) since Second World War till 1960s could not be separated from the participation or leadership of MCP and its underground organisation. This is also the reason why the British colonial rule and the ruling clique of Malaya and Singapore inheriting the British rule have been treating MCP as their main enemy that needs to be wiped out. Although the armed struggle in Peninsular Malaya and the constitutional struggle in Singapore led by MCP had both failed ultimately, it is flying in the face of the historical fact when the existence and the role of MCP and its underground organisations were intentionally or unintentionally eliminated when discussing about the anti-colonial movement as well as independence and nation-building issues today.

It is worth mentioning that, Phoon Yuen Ming, a young scholar who is keen in the research of MCP’s history has released a rather specific article, entitled “From ‘was it MCP’ to ‘was there MCP leadership’: Crisis in leftists’ explication”, the article has the following assertion:

“But by drawing the line just shows the official’s logic that ‘MCP is illegal’. May 13 is the start of Singapore student movement and even the rise of the leftist forces in 1950s, its status in the history of anti-colonisation and the founding of the nation cannot be obliterated. May 13 was also the last spiritual bastion of the Chinese school students, therefore it must be ‘fully preserved’ to avoid contamination by MCP. Only by denying the existence and the role of MCP, May 13 will have the chance to be included in the ‘legal’ nation building history. However, when the large leftist camp drew the line with MCP in order to assert its legitimacy, it also means that they accepted the official thinking and explication.” (Editor’s Note: This article was released in Chinese, and the title and this sentence were translated to English by Sahabat Rakyat).

The above-mentioned assertion of the scholar might cause repercussions from some former MCP members or former leftists. 

We hope that publication of the English rendition of the following articles provided by the authors could allow the non-Chinese-educated readers to understand the contents about the arguments and the authors' perspectives on this topic, so that the impact of the arguments can be disseminated more widely.

The following are the contents of the articles on “Arguments about ‘Did MCP exercise leadership in the May 13 student movement in Singapore?’” Please click on the title of article 1 to 3 to view the respective contents. The English rendition of article 4 and 5 are not yet available. We are much obliged if the respective authors could send us the English rendition of these articles as well so that our aspiration to provide the non-Chinese-educated readers with the complete English rendition of these arguments could be materialised. Sahabat Rakyat has temporarily translated the titles into English. We will update them upon receiving the English rendition from the authors.

Table of Contents
1. Chen Jian (C.C. Chin): The Significance of May 13th Student Movement
2. Hong Lysa: Sixty Years on... Commemorating the May 13 1954 Student Movement
3. Yip Tat Mun (叶德民): Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of 5.13 Student Movement
4. Chen Jian (C.C. Chin): The History of May 13th Student Movement cannot be distorted!   (五一三学运的历史不容歪曲!)
5. Phoon Yuen Ming (潘婉明): From ‘was it MCP’ to ‘was there MCP leadership’: Crisis in leftists’ explication (从“是不是马共”到“有没有马共”——左派论述的危机)

The Significance of May 13th Student Movement

Author: Chen Jian (C.C. Chin) released at Lianhe Zaobao on 13 May 2014 
Author emailed the softcopy of this article to Sahabat Rakyat Editor directly. 

On May 13th 1954, a student movement of remarkable vigour and effect began in Singapore. This year, we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of this May 13th Student Movement. With the renewed interest in Singapore’s history, it is extremely important that we re-examine and re-evaluate the history of this movement.

On this day 60 years ago, about 1,000 secondary students from Chinese schools across the island of Singapore assembled, and marched peacefully along the hillside of Fort Canning near the Istana. This was intended as a peaceful appeal to the Singapore Governor, who represented the British colonial administration, and to present to him a petition seeking the exemption of students from mandatory military service. This was in response to the coming into effect of the colonial government’s National Service Ordinance, which required the mandatory registration of those aged 17 and above for potential military service with the British.

At this time the Emergency Regulations had been in force for close to 6 years, and British forces were engaged in operations to eliminate the Malayan Communist Party guerrillas throughout the Malay Peninsula. The enlistment was intended to fulfil the British strategy of political estrangement, by using the locals against the locals. The purpose was two-fold, as not only would it create and extend racial disharmony, especially by driving a wedge between the Chinese and the Malays, but would also expand the differences between  Chinese of different political persuasion.  At that time, the Chinese were divided between pro-Guomindang groups and the pro-Communist Party of China groups which were sympathetic to and supportive of the Malayan Communist Party. The British encouraged the first-mentioned and assisted them to form the Malayan Chinese Association in order to further strengthen the right-wing Chinese constituency. The aims of the National Service Ordinance were absolutely clear. After training, the young Chinese men would be despatched to the battle front to become cannon fodder in the battle against the MCP, so as to reduce  the number or British soldiers lives lost. As early as in 1952, the Penang branch of the Anti-British League had issued a statement condemning the promulgation and implementation of the National Service Ordinance.

In Singapore, the May 13th peaceful appeal was suppressed, The Colonial Government used the Anti-Riot Squad to attack and disperse the students. A large number of students were severely injured, while 48 students were arrested. Much of Singapore society was outraged at the brutality employed and the savage treatment of the students. The leaders of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce then intervened and volunteered to mediate with the Colonial Government. The students continued their struggle through hunger strikes and gatherings at Chung Cheng High School from May 22nd and in Hwa Chung High School from June 2nd. Following various mediations, the student anti-enlistment campaign reached some of its goals, exposing the ulterior motives of the British in their efforts to divide and rule, through separating people along both racial and clan lines.

For this student movement to have organised, operated and successfully achieved its aims, it firstly required a highly efficient and tightly controlled organization. Secondly, the leaders of the organization were a group of strong-willed and noble young persons with strong fighting spirit. Furthermore, they needed to maintain the overall direction of the struggle, while still being flexible in strategy and tactics so as to be able to respond to the constantly changing circumstances during the operation. This organization was none other than the Singapore People’s Anti-British League (SPABL, or ABL) that was formed by the MCP for the continued struggle of the Singapore people right after the declaration of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance in June 1948. The concrete task of  guiding the student movement was carried out by the MCP’s underground Student Movement Working Committee (SMWC). The key figure in the SMWC was Huang Ming-qiang (alias Chow), while his deputy Zhan Zhong-jian (nicknamed Tall Guy Lim) was responsible for directing the overall May 13th Student Movement. Within Hwa Chung High School, it was Xie Yan-hui who oversaw the operations, and a seven-member committee was formed as the leading body. The members were chosen from several high schools including Hwa Chung, Chung Cheng, Nanyang, Chung Hwa and Nan Qiao. The latter three schools were the most famous of Singapore’s girls’ high schools. The committee members were generally key ABL members in the respective high schools, and some were already active MCP members. Several of them later went underground and, at different times, joined the guerrilla force fighting at the battlefront. This seven-member committee was the real nerve centre for the pan-island May 13th movement. It was different from both the secret eight-member committee formed at Chung Cheng and Hwa Chung after the May 13th Incident as well as the 55-member Pan Island Chinese School Secondary Student Enlistment Exemption Delegation selected from eight high schools. These various committees were formed at different stages in response to developing circumstances and situations.

Both those on the Right and those on the Left will admit to the remarkable historic significance of the May 13th Student Movement as a major event in the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial activities of the Singapore and Malayan people. However, there are different interpretations as to its nature, its historical effects and its place in history. There is little space to fully expound on these issues, but I would like here to offer a brief interpretation and assessment of the May 13th Movement, affirming its remarkable significance and historic importance in Singapore’s anti-colonialism movement and nation building:

1. The May 13th Student Movement was not only a rational and principled student movement directed by the MCP and implemented by the Singapore Anti-British League (SABL), but was actually an important part of the Singapore people’s anti-colonial movement. It constituted the first major political breakthrough in the people’s struggle against the British, subsequent to the declaration of the Emergency Regulations. It not only greatly inspired and tremendously enhanced the anti-colonial fighting spirit, but also at a later stage induced, stimulated and expanded a series of struggles for Malayan national and democratic independence.

2. At that time, when under the stringent Emergency Regulations, a gathering of five persons would have constituted a severe offence, the ABL’s secretive operation managed to break through these tight controls. Disregarding and daring to face the severe penalties, ABL managed to efficiently organise the peaceful appeal demonstration as well as the mass gatherings later on at the schools. This not only demonstrated the organisers’ bravery and wisdom, but also showed the students’ bravery and courage.  Under the influence and guidance of great ideals, they dared to face possible sacrifices including being expelled from school, or being deported and thus losing the opportunity to continue their education. They even faced the possibility of being arrested, tortured, and imprisoned, or even being killed. Indeed, they were selfless and willing to sacrifice.

3. The May 13th Student Movement was by far the most influential student-led anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist campaign in Malaya (at the time Singapore and the Malay Peninsula were collectively known as Malaya). The formation of the Singapore Secondary Student Union and the subsequent series of student movements directly stimulated the Pan- Malayan student strike in November 1957 which began in Penang’s Chung Ling High School, and extended all the way south to Johor Bahru’s Foon Yew High School. The strike was aimed at the so-called educational reforms by the Malayan Federation Government aimed at turning all Chinese-medium and English-medium schools into Malay-medium schools. The strike was meant to safeguard the self-supported Chinese education system, but it also became a model for instituting subsequent pan-Malayan student movements.

4. The May 13th Student Movement successfully led the forces of the Left and the anti-colonial petit bourgeoisie, who at that time still had progressive ideas, to join together in the struggle against the colonial power. The May 13th Student Movement in fact brought about the collaboration between the Left and the returned Fabian socialists such as Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Keng Swee and others. It could be argued that it was the May 13th Student Movement which provided the opportunity and created the political capital and the mass foundation for them. This was especially so in respect of Lee Kuan Yew, for he dared to plead for and defend the students’ actions. This opened the gateway for him to the Left-wing movement, and he became the legal adviser, advocate and spokesman for many Left-wing bodies. This provided him with  the backing of the mass base, and facilitated the creation of  a united front with the Left. The result was the formation of People’s Action Party, which began formidable masses movements that shook the foundations of British rule. This can be considered to be the most beneficial political result achieved by the May 13th Student Movement.

5. Nearly all of the activists of the May 13th Student Movement were later to become key figures in Singapore political movements. The May 13th movement had nurtured and fostered a core of Left-wing cadres, and they later became the leaders of the labour unions, farmers associations, student bodies, women associations as well as the literature and the arts organizations. They included ministers, parliamentary secretaries and active cadres of early PAP government. They all sacrificed themselves, their youth and happiness, for the anti-colonial movement and for nation building in Singapore. They were the real generation of nation builders.

Sixty Years on...
Commemorating the May 13 1954 Student Movement

Author: Hong Lysa / Source:NanDaZhan

Part 1
May 13 2014: The fantastical version

Continuing silence 60 years on?

The '60 years on...Commemorating the May 13 1954 Student Movement' lunch gathering was a widely-publicised event, drawing an attendance of over 700. Up to the early 1960s the Chinese middle school students used to mark the day with exhibitions and speeches in schools.

On May 13 1954 the middle school students' assembling on the footpaths outside Government House to await the outcome of their petition to the colonial authorities for exemption from conscription ended in state violence inflicted on them. The public display of brutality by the police stimulated the anti-colonial movement in Singapore.

Despite the overwhelming response to the 60th anniversary gathering, there would have been some who had reservations about the commemoration. The state narrative of the May 13 events targeted the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) as the mastermind. There would be concerns that the celebration will cause the state to retaliate by bringing the charge of communist party involvement to the fore again.

Those who hold this view could well feel that their fears were justified when they opened their copy of Lianhe Zaobao on May 13 and read ‘The historical significance of the May student movement’.

The myth of the mighty Communist Party of Malaya

The article posits the CPM as the force directing the May 13 events. CC Chin introduced himself as 'an independent scholar working on the history of the left in Singapore and Malaysia'. He is on record (http://s-pores.com/2008/01/ccchin/) as stating that he was from the left, and supported the left-wing movement. His life's work is to build an archive of the CPM, and write its history.

CC Chin is a veteran when it comes to publishing on the communist parties in Malaysia.

Chin’s Zaobao essay does an amazing feat. Turning Rudyard Kipling's phrase 'never the twain shall meet' on its head, it manages to fuse or rather, confuse what are opposites, and antagonists.

His key proposition is that May 13 was masterminded and directed by the CPM. To this end he asserts that the conscripted troops from Singapore were to be sent to suppress the communists. The logic thus is that the CPM would be at the forefront of opposing conscription. The essay also attributed the impressive discipline and organizational capability displayed by the students to CPM direction.

* Would it be plausible that the colonial authorities would train and arm Chinese middle school youths among others, and send them into the jungle?

* Would it be plausible that only Chinese middle school students protested against the possibility of being sent to fight the insurgency, while those in the English-medium schools, and their parents were not the least concerned?

* Would it be plausible that in preparing for such a mission, conscription entailed only part-time training totaling not more than 20 hours in a month?

In claiming that the CPM was a vibrant and dynamic outfit, the author lists its chain of command, identifying by name the leader of the party's student committee, its committee member in charge of the May 13 events, and its student leader on the ground.

It is obvious too that the organization chart say nothing about actual strength and operational effectiveness.

However, while one can debate with the author on his sources, or how he uses them, and his conclusions, these are actually only secondary issues.

More significant is how the essay ends.

The meeting of the twain

CC Chin asserts that the May 13 event won over the petty bourgeoisie and the Fabian Socialist students on their return from overseas, like Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Keng Swee. The PAP was the result of the united front between the Fabian socialists, and the MCP.

The PAP wins the 1959 general election, the culmination of the dynamism set by May 13 which the CPM initiated, and with the CPM in a united front.

Highlight is placed on the May 13 activists becoming leaders in Singapore's politics, its labour, farmers, students, and women's movement, and it is alleged, their ranks included some ministers, and ministers of state in the early cabinet.

This is fantastical, and at best delusional.

In the first place, one wonders who were the ministers alluded to. The only possibility appears to be Jek Yeun Thong, appointed minister of labour in 1963 (not 1959) who had come clean with Lee about his CPM membership, and his turning away from the party.

Ending the narrative in 1959 saves the author having to explain how the mighty party was put on the run after the PAP expelled its left-wing in mid 1961, and Operation Coldstore, where the PAP arrested en masse communists, leftists and non-leftists--by deeming all of them to be communists.

The PAP government has relentlessly called communists Singapore's greatest enemy. Yet in CPM lore, the party's chief enemies continue to be the Japanese invaders and the British colonialists.

The CPM’s myth of its strength suits the PAP just fine, and explains why Zaobao would publish an ostensible glorification of the CPM on the 60th anniversary of May 13.

To contemplate the possibility that the author is unaware of this is to underestimate him.

Part 2
50th anniversary: The Mighty Wave contained

Roman á clef non grata

The fiftieth anniversary of May 13 was marked by the publication of Ju Lang, a historical novel.

But it was a non-event at the time. The CPM did not want the book to be circulated.

The a roman á clef, was written by Lim Kim Chuan, using his pen name He Jin when he was 69 years old. Lim was elected by fellow-students as one of 9 committee members to negotiate with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. He became a full-fledged CPM member following the May 13 events.

He Jin has explained that he chose to write a novel rather than a documentary account for the latter would have involved naming names, and discussing matters directly and openly, which he was not ready to do. In any case, he was a leading short-story writer in his student days, recording the sense of belonging to Malaya, and promoting the art for life literary movement.

The protagonists in the novel are two student leaders of the May 13 events who were promoted to full-fledged CPM members after the event. However, they were not carrying out the directives of the party at every turn. In the first place, the students were reacting to events as they unfolded, and the leaders' decisions had to be acceptable to the student body if the movement were to stay united.

In the novel, the cell leader of the two protagonists had in any case turned rotten, interested only in a life of comfort, siphoning party funds and exploiting a female student subordinate. He could not be contacted when the protagonists sought guidance, and failed to turn up to conduct the ceremony confirming the two as full members for a comrade had escaped from jail and he was afraid of being caught in the dragnet.

The portrayal of this cell leader is the most controversial aspect of the novel. The Party, used to hagiographies, was not open to any criticisms, and its role in the May 13 events cut down to size.

Following the attention which the book received when it was translated into English in 2011, a faction of CPM members circulated essays stating that it wanted to render the posthumous justice due to Zhan Zhong Qian, the CPM leader in charge of students, and in command of the May 13 events (also named in CC Chin's piece). The essay also detailed subsequent infighting among the leadership which saw him ousted.

At the same time, some former Chinese middle school students insisted on portraying May 13 as a completely student affair, flatly denying even the merest whiff of CPM presence.

A former student leader speaking publicly in 2012 on that period of his life left the CPM out of his account. He stuck to his guns that it had no relevance when a member of the audience raised the inevitable question.

Ju Lang was thus taboo to both sides, and the translation of the novel into English in 2011 was cause for unhappiness on their part. It evidently touched raw nerves.

The uncompromising compromise

Like CC Chin's account, Ju Lang ends on an ostensibly high note: the PAP's victory in the 1959 election:

'Singapore politics entered into a new phase. The people looked forward to a new social order. These young men and women too waited expectantly to assume their new tasks!'

While He Jin ends Ju Lang with the PAP victory, his Afterword spell out the reasons for what can be seen as the compromises he had made.

He Jin explains that he waited till he was in retirement before writing the novel as he did not want to trigger off a 'political minefield'. An early draft was rejected by the publisher -- 'it stuck too rigidly to historical facts'. The second draft elicited the comment that the novel should be 'more positive'.

The Afterword confronts the issues head-on:

It is well known the Chinese middle school movement in the 1950 was influenced by the underground. Hence it is not possible to write about the students' movement without dealing with the underground organization. However, many do not know of the complexities of the underground organization. This is an inevitable outcome of a situation where the enemy is overwhelmingly stronger. There was a wide disparity between the strength of the British colonialists and the people of Malaya (including Singapore)...

Taking the Singapore underground as an example, it suffered serious damage. At one stage, the Town Committee had only one surviving student committee. Despite this, and in the low tide of the armed struggle, the mass movement in Singapore miraculously developed into a mighty wave. The young people in our country had inherited the fighting spirit of their forefathers in the anti-Japanese struggle and in addition they were inspired by the objective conditions created by the high tide of the national liberation movements in the Afro-Asian countries.

The young people who threw themselves into the movement initially thought naively that those who participated in the revolution were all good men and women. They did not realize that there were unsavoury characters who failed to undergo self-criticism when they held power...These people degenerated in the complex political situation.

He Jin's contribution has been vilified by both the Party of which he remains a member, and by former May 13 student comrades.

Yet it is this novel that has given the most complex and reflective historical account of the event, challenging the self-denial by the Party and the ostrich approach of some former student leaders.

Instead of being suppressed, there needs to be many more narratives, recollections and reflections that supplement, complement, interrogate, qualify, challenge or demolish Ju Lang.

The former students who reject historical assessment find themselves continuously fearing that the state would be provoked to raise the issue of the CPM's presence in May 13.

The CC Chin essay in Zaobao proves their point.

But only if they continue to allow such writings to intimidate them, rather than to break away from the constricting state discourse that Singapore history of the 1950s and 60s is a matter of arguing who is a communist and who is not, or whether the CPM is behind this or that.

Part 3
60 Years on...Commemorating the May 13 1954 Student Movement

10 years on from Ju Lang

The most significant aspect of '60 years on...Commemorating the May 13 1954 Student Movement' was that Lim Hock Koon was invited to give a speech at the event.

He gave a familiar, dutiful account of the day-to-day, week-to-week development of the May 13 events.

The significance lay not in what he had to say, but the fact that Lim Hock Koon is no other than the main protagonist in Ju Lang.

The entrenched taboo has been broken.

Lim is also one of the main villains in that fiction posing as history, Dennis Bloodworth, The Tiger and the Trojan Horse.

Like He Jin, he became a full CPM member following the May 13 events. He was on the run from the authorities, and was detained from 1970-1979.

Lim Hock Koon did not simply recount past events. His final note was not about the triumph of 1959 but the betrayal. He ended with the words of his brother Dr Lim Hock Siew:

Like a gigantic tidal wave, these (May 13) activists swept the PAP into power in 1959, hoping that the newly formed political party would bring about political freedom and social justice to our people. But it was not to be. Subsequent repressions conducted by the PAP after it came to power proved to be more ruthless and relentless than those carried out by the colonial rulers and they have to be seen through and through as a massive political betrayal in Singapore history.

But Lim Hock Koon saved the last lines for himself, exhorting in particular the younger people present: 'Destiny is in our own hands, we must struggle and be prepared to sacrifice if we want to realize our dreams'.

What the archives have to say

Dr Poh Soo Kai's speech extended the time-frame to bring in the conjoined University Socialist Club members and the Fajar trial, the burgeoning the trade unions, mentioning in particular Jamit Singh, and the Hock Lee Riots, and citing Dr PJ Thum's confirmation that the Special Branch reports in the UK for 1954-55 state that the MCP did not instigate May 13, nor the Hock Lee Bus strike and riot. Dr Poh also revealed that two individuals whose cases he read in the Colonial Office files were likely to be agents provocateurs in the Hock Lee riots.

Dr Poh reserved his final point for advising Lee Kuan Yew to apologise to Lim Chin Siong for never ever clearing Lim's name when he knew full well that Lim had told the highly worked up people attending the rally on 25 October 1956 NOT to 'pah mata'(beat the police) rather than the opposite.

The Lim Yew Hock government deliberately twisted Lim's words to justify detaining him. Dr Thum has recently found the transcript of Lim's speech in the Special Branch files.

The commemoration lunch was a social event, and constant chatter went on while the speeches (which are in the commemoration publication) were made.

However, even those busily catching up in conversation with their friends were paying sufficient attention to the speeches and broke into applause when Lim Hock Koon and Dr Poh brought their talks to the present situation.

But the link to the present was delivered most vitally not by the 'old left'.

The younger left

The gathering was organized by Maruah and Function 8, and Lim Hock Koon expressed appreciation on behalf of the May 13 Generation for the gesture of respect shown to them.

In a moving short film re-enacting a student-led study session during the camp-in at Chinese High, young director Jason Soo had the students reading a fable from Aesop in their English language lesson.

In 'The Eagle and the Arrow' an eagle was fatally shot by an arrow whose shaft included a feather from its own plume.

The proceedings of the day ended with a rousing choir and mass singing session of the repertoire of 5-13 songs, which are regular fare for the many alumni and community choir groups that meet regularly. The energy of 5-13 reverberated through the vast hall.

Another group was scheduled to sing, but their item was cancelled as there wasn’t enough time.

But the song was sung after all.

As people were moving out of the restaurant, they were greeted by a Hokkien song, sung with much gusto and good cheer by three Function 8 members.

It was in the familiar tune of "I love Malaya". Re-titled 'Song of the Students' the first line goes:

Bo liong sim aye zeng hu lang, Hai see liao tak chay lang 
Our heartless government Destroy the lives of students

Function 8 members had learnt it from former Singapore Polytechnic students who were arrested and detained in 1976.

Perhaps we will now be seeing updated lyrics to that tune, which reflect our times.

And we will be hearing songs sung to this tune for decades to come.


Commemorating the 60th Anniversary 
of 5.13 Student Movement

Author / Source : Yip Tat Mun 叶德民(Hong Kong) / NanDaZhan
I had the honor to present in person at the grand occasion of Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Singapore May 13 Student Movement hosted by two Singapore human rights organizations Function 8 and Maruah on May 13.  As I entered the venue, first came into my view was a book sale at the reception where a number of historical books printed in recent years were on charity auction and many a participants were keen to make contributions. Going further inside, there was a white screen behind the platform, with the theme in shining red, which reads:  "May 13 Student Movement…..60 Years On". The entire auditorium was fully packed with a feast of 78 tables. Friends from different quarter shook hands warmly and caught up in conversation with each other cordially. A grand occasion indeed!

Members of the Function 8 and Maruah were English-educated younger generation. They are the enthusiatic workers in defence of basic human rights. They learn from historical books the heroic and touching student movement of the Chinese school students who dare to struggle in defence of their own interests over half a century ago, and the predecessors of last generation who paid significant cost and sacrifice for the cause of national self-government and independence. This batch of English-educated human right workers think that there is a need to commemorate and learn the historical experience of fighting for human rights more than half a century ago, while at the same time encourage the younger generation of Singapore today dare to say ‘no’ to the irrational system. Function 8 and Maruah commemorate the May 13 Movement in the form of feast gathering and pay their lofty respect to the older generation who had scarified for Singapore!

Lim Hock Koon, one of the May 13 Student Movement leaders, gave a dutiful account of the whole process and the causes and consequences of the movement. Then Dr. Poh Soo Kai recounted the labour and student movements over half a century ago. He asserted that the workers and students of those days were forced to revolt against the colonial authority in defence of their basic human rights and that were exactly the reasons behind the occurrence of strikes and unrests. Dr. Poh cited Dr. PJ Thum’s confirmation that the Special Branch’s reports for 1954 to 1955 disclosed that the MCP did not encourage the 5.13 student unrest, nor did they the Hock Lee strikes, and yet the Singapore authorities today still slanderously accuses the legitimate resistance of the students and workers as instigated and masterminded by the MCP.

The venue played a slide show of photographs which showed police’s violence against the students, followed by a short film screened by young students today showing scenes of a studying session of students 60 years ago during the camp-in. It is remarkably true to life and strike resonance greatly in the hearts of the audience, especially amongst the grey-haired participants who were deeply moved! When the choir sang the commemoration song of ‘The Students’ Rank is Invulnerable”, “We love Malaya” to mark the ending of the proceeding, with a chorus of “Unity is Strength” joined by all participants, a seething emotion aroused to climax. Everyone was reluctant to part!

C.C. Chin, the independent researcher working on the history of the Left in Singapore and Malaysia wrote on May 13th an article entitled "The Historical Significance of the May 13 1954 Student Movement” on Lianhe Zaboao, the mouthpiece of PAP Government. I wonder if it is a coincidence or a co-ordination. He pointed out that "the successes of an organized student movement, its operations and accomplishment of the goal of the struggle are inseparable from an efficient and tightly organization...... This organization was the Singapore People’s Anti-British League instituted by the MCP since the declaration of the Emergency Regulations in order to persist in the struggle in Singapore. He also pointed out that the main leaders of the May 13th student unrest were Ng Meng Chiang, Chiam Chong Chian and a Mr. Chia.  Furthermore, he commented that the May 13 Student Unrest was not only a movement led by MCP and performed by ABL Students, but also virtually an important episode of Singapore people’s anti-colonial movement. The crucial point of C.C. Chin’s article is that he asserted, without any substantial evidence, the May 13 Student Unrest was entirely instigated, organized and guided by the MCP. Perhaps he derived his conclusion from an interview with a ‘Mr. Chia”!

On May 24th there was another article entitled “A Reflection of the May 13th Student Movement" on Lianhe Zaobao which gave full support to C. C. Chin's assertions and conclusions." What a bustling day indeed! It also supports Dr. Poh Soo Kai’s contention at the commemoration gathering that "yet the Singapore authorities today slanderously accused the legitimate resistance of the students and workers as instigated and masterminded by the MCP."

I would like to quote from Lim Kim Chuan (He Jin)’s book “The Mighty Wave” in which the author maintained that "the May 13 student unrest was initiated spontaneously under the pressure of the situation. The individual underground units of the Students Committee lag far behind the situation. The underground organization has to catch up with the situation and participate actively ". Lim Kim Chuan was one of the leaders of the May 13 student movement and forthright in character. I believe in Dr. Thum’s substantial evidence as quoted by Dr. Poh, the fact as pointed out by Lim Kim Chuan, and also what Mr. Lim Chin Joo had pointed out two years ago, when he responded to a question raised by an audience in his talks at the "Nostalgia of the hillocks, echoes of the history" forum: "It was hundreds of batons knocked on the students’ heads on that very day of May 13 that woke them up, and gave rise to the masses movements......".


【Links】

1、新加坡“五一三”事件图片集 / Scenes of May 13, 1954 in Singapore

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通告 Notification

人民之友 对我国下届大选意见书
(华 巫 英)3种语文已先后贴出

作为坚守“独立自主”和“与民同在”的立场的一个民间组织,人民之友在今年9月24日对即将来临的第14届全国大选投票,发表了一篇以华文书写的“意见书”,题为:投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!

这篇意见书的英文译稿(标题是:Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!)已于10月22日张贴在本部落格。马来文译稿(标题是:Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!)也已接着在11月13日在此贴出。

此外,人民之友也将通过电子邮件、微信、WhatsApp等方式,尽可能向全国各民族、各阶层、各行业、各宗教的团体和个人,传送我们的这份“意见书”供参考。我们欢迎跟我们对下届大选的立场和见解一致的团体和个人,将这份“意见书”传送到更多的人手中去!

我们希望,我们在意见书内所表达的对下届大选的立场和观点,能够准确而又广泛地传播到我国各民族、各阶层的人民群众中接受考验,并接受各党派在这次全国大选斗争和今后实践的检验。


Pandangan Sahabat Rakyat terhadap PRU akan datang telah diterbitkan dalam tiga bahasa (Melayu, Cina dan Inggeris)

Sebagai sebuah pertubuhan masyarakat yang berpendirian teguh tentang prinsip "bebas dan berautonomi" dan “sentiasa berdampingan dengan rakyat jelata”, Sahabat Rakyat telah menerbitkan kenyataan tentang pandangan kami terhadap Pilihan Raya Umum ke-14 yang bertajuk "Undilah calon yang menentang Pengislaman Negera: Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Jangan benarkan puak Mahathir kembali memerintah! " (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)dalam Bahasa Cina pada 24hb September 2017.

Penterjemahan Bahasa Inggeris kenyataan tersebut yang bertajuk Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”! telah diterbitkan dalam blog kita pada 22hb Oktober 2017 manakala penterjemahan Bahasa Melayu telah diterbitkan pada 13hb November 2017.

Selain daripada itu, Sahabat Rakyat juga akan menyebarkan kenyataan ini seluas mungkin kepada pertubuhan dan individu semua bangsa, strata, profesyen dan agama seluruh Negara melalui email, wechat, whatsApp dan pelbagai saluran lain. Kami amat mengalu-alukan pertubuhan dan individu yang berpendirian dan pandangan sama dengan kami untuk turut menyebarkan kenyataan ini kepada lebih ramai orang!

Kami berharap pendirian dan pandangan kami berkenaan pilihan raya kali ini yang dinyatakan dalam kenyataan tersebut dapat disebarkan dengan tepat dan meluas untuk diuji dalam kalangan rakyat semua bangsa semua strata sosial melalui penglibatan mereka dalam amalan pelbagai parti politik dalam pertempuran pilihan raya umum kali ini mahupun amalan masa depan.


The Chinese, English and Malay renditions of Sahabat Rakyat’s opinions about next election have been published consecutively

As an NGO which upholds “independent and autonomous” position and "always be with the people" principle, on 24 September 2017, Sahabat Rakyat had released a Chinese-written statement of views with regard to the voting in the upcoming 14th General Election, entitled “Vote for candidates who are against State Islamisation: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent the return to power of Mahathir’s faction!” (投票支持"反对国家伊斯兰化的候选人": 反对巫统霸权统治!莫让马哈迪帮派"复辟"!)

The English rendition of this statement entitled "Vote for “candidates who are against State Islamisation”: Oppose UMNO hegemonic rule! Prevent “the return to power of Mahathir’s faction”!" and the Malay rendition entitled "Undilah "calon yang membantah pengislaman negara": Menentang pemerintahan hegemoni UMNO! Mencegah puak Mahathir kembali kepada kuasa!" had been released on 22 October and 13 November respectively.

Apart from that, Sahabat Rakyat will also make every effort to disseminate this statement as widely as possible to organizations and individuals of all ethnic groups, religions and all walks of life throughout the country via email, WeChat, WhatsApp and other channels. We welcome organizations and individuals with the same position and views to spread this statement to more people!

We hope that our position and views pertaining to the next General Election expressed in the statement will be accurately and widely disseminated and also examined by the popular masses of various ethnicity and social strata through their involvement in the struggle of the next General Election carried out by various political parties and their practices in all fields in future.

Malaysia Time (GMT+8)