Wednesday, 13 May 2015

“May 13 Student Movement” Singapore was led by the Singapore People’s Anti-British League (Part 2) -- The interview with Lim Hock Koon, representative petitioning the Governor in “May 13” 【Updated Editor's Note on 15 May】

"May 13 Student Movement" Singapore was led by the Singapore People's Anti-British League (Part 2)

-- The interview with Lim Hock Koon, representative petitioning the Governor in "May 13"


Translated by Ang Pei Shan

[Text below is translated from original version in the Chinese language published on 13 December 2014. In the case of any discrepancy between the English rendition and the original Chinese version, the Chinese version shall prevail.]

“513” that set off the waves of anti-colonialism in Singapore in 1950s

【Sahabat Rakyat Editor’s Note】 The argument about “Did Communist Party of Malaya (MCP) exercise leadership in the May 13 student movement in Singapore?” has become more and more apparent and widespread among the former leftists after the 60th anniversary commemoration of the “May 13 student movement in Singapore” this year (2014) and after two scholars published their articles with different views before and after this commemoration event. However, debaters lacked convincing facts or documents to support their argumentations and assertions. This is certainly closely related to the fact that MCP had been at “illegal status” and unable to operate effectively because it had been destroyed by the enemy and spies, and due to Lee Kuan Yew ruling clique’s imperious approach of monopolising and not revealing some important confidential documents.

From our observation, as mentioned by a young scholar, some debaters consciously or unconsciously denied the existence and the role played by MCP in the struggle against British colonial rule striving for the independence of the nation. Their remarks are no different from accepting the official thoughts and assertions. We think it is understandable when those English-educated scholars who were born after 1950s deny or distort MCP’s role and influence in the anti-colonialisation struggle in the situation today as MCP has faded away and MCP’s influence is no longer exist. However, it is really inconceivable that those old leftists and some leaders of Chinese school background who were involved in the anti-colonialisation struggle till today still busy casting aside the relationship with MCP or MCP’s underground organisations. Wouldn’t those former leftists worry that their argumentation and proposition of “casting aside the relationship with MCP or MCP’s underground organisations” will ultimately be used by the Singapore ruling clique as a powerful discourse in conjunction with the 50 years of independence celebration to boost that “Lee Kuan Yew is the great founding prime minister, “men in white is the true pioneer generation”?

After publishing “Arguments about ‘Did MCP exercise leadership in the May 13 student movement in Singapore?’” (2 rounds), Sahabat Rakyat wished to approach the leadership of the “May 13 Incident” to understand their views on this matter. With the assistance and coordination of Chng Min Oh, a former unionist who is currently a Chinese medicine practitioner, Chen Xin, Choo Shinn Chei, Ang Pei Shan, Nyam Kee Han and Yong Siew Lee, delegates from Sahabat Rakyat, managed to interview Lim Hock Koon, who delivered the keynote speech during the 60th anniversary commemoration of the “May 13 student movement in Singapore” in early November, and have organised the interview into the following 2 parts:

Part 2 : Discussion about the "May 13 Incident" between Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee members and Lim Hock Koon

Below are the full contents of the second part:

Part 2 : Discussion on the “May 13 Incident” between Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee members and Lim Hock Koon

Sahabat Rakyat: Now we move to the second part of the interview, which is about the “May 13 Incident”. The “May 13 Incident” happened exactly 60 years back. Function 8 and MARUAH, two human rights organisations in Singapore, successfully organised the 60th anniversary commemoration of the “May 13 student movement in Singapore” and you had delivered an important speech entitled “Commemorating the 60th Year of May 13, 1954 A Turning Point in Singapore’s Political History” in the event. Sahabat Rakyat blog had then published your speech. We noticed that two Singaporean scholars have published different views on the issue whether or not MCP exercised leadership in the May 13 student movement and sparked off a controversy. We wish to listen to your views on this matter. In Part 1 of the interview, you had elaborated the process of your involvement in the “May 13 Incident” and how did you become one of the leaders. Your narrative gave us an impression that you seemed to emphasise that the “May 13 Incident” is a rather spontaneous action from Chinese middle school students against persecution and suppression, and had nothing to do with MCP or any underground organisations. Could you provide some further convincing instances or reliable evidence to reaffirm your argument?

The picture (right) of Lim Hock Koon, taken when he was invited to deliver a speech in the 60th anniversary commemoration of the “May 13 student movement in Singapore”. 

The commemoration event was organised by two human rights organisations formed by some English-educated activists. This symbolises that the English-educated human rights activists of the younger generation have freed themselves from the ideological control and domination of People's Action Party (PAP) ruling clique, and are taking the initiative to approach the Chinese-educated community and even those traditional leftists who have been supressed and marginalised by the ruling clique. This also symbolises that these English-educated democratic human rights activists are trying hard to explore the historical truth and ways out of Singapore. They without scruples express their sympathy, support and respect towards those who were ruthlessly suppressed and marginalised by PAP ruling clique after sacrificing themselves in the struggles of anti-colonialisation and for the independence and autonomy of the nation.

Lim Hock Koon: The May 13 Incident that I had been through in Chung Cheng High School was unlike what Chia Yam Wee claimed that “was commanded by Chiam Chong Chian behind the scenes”. My leader was someone called “Li Xin” in the book The Might Wave. We call him “Lao Lee” or “R”. As described in The Mighty Wave, his personal life was very degenerate, he played around with female underground messengers, possessed himself of others’ partner. How could he lead us? Said bluntly, he just reached out to us for monthly donation, he did not even provide us Freedom News consistently, and we had to get it from other links. He was a very irresponsible person. Thus, he had not given me any guiding opinion. This person then turned into a special branch officer, causing a lot of threats and destruction to our activities. On 20 Jan 1971, the night when I was arrested, he, the person who “led” me in the organisation, was the one who shone a torchlight at me, and confirmed with the special branch officer who executed the arrest action that I am Lim Hock Koon. (Sahabat Rakyat: Is this man still alive?) Lim Hock Koon: This man should be of very old age now, I believe he has passed away.

Sahabat Rakyat: Just now you mentioned that Chia Yam Wee was of the view that the “‘May 13 Incident’ was commanded by Chiam Chong Chian behind the scenes”. Do you have any basis? We read Chia’s article entitled A History of the May 13 All-Singapore Chinese Middle School Student Movement dated 11 May 2004 before and could not find such saying in his article. Were you referring to the articles by Chen Jian published before and after the 60th anniversary commemoration event, or the conclusion drawn from the interview of Chia by Chen Jian?

Lim Hock Koon: There is such a saying spread among a group of friends but I cannot accept it. I am not sure whether or not Chia mentioned this in his article. I am also not sure if Chen Jian has ever interviewed Chia. Based on my experience in Chung Cheng High School, I do not agree with the saying that the “May 13 Incident” was led by MCP, I am of the view that the “May 13 Incident” was a spontaneous collective action from the students to oppose conscription and suppression.

Sahabat Rakyat: Before this interview, some of our committee members, when discussed some historical events with you during some meet ups, noticed you always stressed that the “May 13 Incident” was a spontaneous collective action of Singapore Chinese Middle School students opposing suppression and conscription as did not want to become cannon fodder for the British colonial government’s evasion and war policy. In our view, it is inappropriate to emphasise the “spontaneous factor” and ignore the “leadership factor”. In part 1 of the interview, you mentioned that you had joined the Singapore People’s Anti-British League since 1952 (when you were in Form 2). Definitely, in 1950s, there must be a number of active students from Chung Cheng High School and other Chinese middle schools who were also members of the Singapore People’s Anti-British League. In fact, during that generation, you and other Singapore People’s Anti-British League members from your school and other schools represented Singapore People’s Anti-British League to play an active role and significant part in the studies and the lives of the students in different schools, forms and classes. Therefore we can deduce that, the "May 13 incident" was not only a collective action from the students against the military conscription and suppression to safeguard their study rights and their personal security, it was also a political struggle against the war policy launched by the British colonial government in Malaya (including Singapore) and other regions/areas, joined and led by the Singapore People’s Anti-British League since the beginning. Do you still have any impression on this document? (Handed over to Lim Hock Koon a photocopy of a statement issued by the Singapore People’s Anti-British League on 2 April 1954). Below is the scanned copy of the document -

Open Letter to Protest Against ‘The National Service Registration Bill’ to All Nationality

The British Emperor madly and meanly imposed the practice of "The National Service Registration Bill" to all of us. What they want is to collect and gather all our innocent youngsters to be their ammunitions, which to be used by the Imperialist for invading. This is also a trick that he must be struggle for his last defence to protect his benefits in Malaya.

Dear brothers of all nationality!

To maintain our benefits, liberty and peace, as well as the world peace, we therefore strongly protest against "The National Service Registration Bill". We must unite in a body under the lead of the MALAYA COMMUNIST PARTY for our nation's liberation, and to fight against the British Imperialism to the last.

We strongly reject to register and prepared to be arrested!
We are willing to go to prison and not to be their ammunitions!
We do not like to be the British Emperor's soldiers and kill our own brothers!
Asians are definitely does not like to kill each other!
Asians must be unite and fight for the world peace!
To oppose the British Imperialism invading!
All nationality must be unite immediately!
Long live the Malaya Communist Party!

Issued by Singapore People's Anti-British League
Dated: 1st April 1954

Lim Hock Koon (after seeing the document): Yes, I have read this before. This is a real historical document! It was a leaflet issued by the Singapore People’s Anti-British League urging the youths to boycott the national service. I still remember before and after the “May 13 Incident”, we chose appropriate timings to disseminate this leaflet everywhere, or pasted it on the wall of buildings which could easily catch the attention of the public. (Sahabat Rakyat (interrupted):  During that time, apart from this leaflet, were there other same or similar statement(s) released by other political parties or organisation(s)?) Lim Hock Koon: I remember there wasn’t any, or I can say not at all, or I perhaps I do not have any impression. In my memory, that was a generation dominated by the right-wing demagogues and right-wing organisations. The “May 13 Incident” occurred at the moment when the people’s anti-colonialisation emotion was rising, it is thus not hard to understand why only Singapore People’s Anti-British League issued documents and booklets of such contents. At that time, PAP was not established yet, Lee Kuan Yew just completed his professional training as a practitioner from the UK. He was a fresh lawyer, a politician who did not have any mass base, he thus searched for opportunity to approach Chinese school student leaders and student organisations, and was being introduced to Lim Chin Siong and others by some student leaders. He then made use of Lim Chin Siong and others and the influence and role played by the left-wing cadres among the masses, formed and developed PAP, which then became Lee Kuan Yew and his team’s political basis for their ruling in Singapore in 1959, joining Malaysia in 1963 and exiting from Malaysia in 1965 declaring independence and nation building.

Sahabat Rakyat: From the document that we showed you and from your remarks, wasn’t it proven that the Singapore People’s Anti-British League had played a vital position and leadership role in the May 13 Incident? Singapore People’s Anti-British League, since the formation in 1948 when the British colonial government imposed Emergency Act in Malaya (including Singapore), till it gradually lifted the ban in 1952, up until the whole 1950s and 60s (before “Feb 2 Incident”), had been the most influencing organiser and leader in the struggle against the British colonial rule. They had also caused the anxiety of the British colonial government and Lee Kuan Yew ruling clique. This is an undeniable historical fact. If anyone has any doubts about the important position and leadership role of the Singapore People’s Anti-British League in the “May 13 Incident”, are there other documents to prove the reliability and legitimacy of this assertion?

Chng Min Oh (interrupted): Yes, there is. While I was collecting the important information on the May 13 Incident, a friend of mine passed me a book entitled The Years of Anti-British Guerrilla Warfare Around Gunung Ledang《金山岭下的抗英岁月》 (published by Footprints Publishing Co. in Nov 2011). The book contains a statement entitled Oppose the British Imperialists’ Violent Act in Persecuting the Students - A letter from Singapore People’s Anti-British League to the compatriots on the “May 13 Incident” released by the Singapore People’s Anti-British League two days after the May 13 Incident (i.e. on 15 May 1954). The previous statement was released on 1 April 1954 (around one and a half month before the May 13 Incident), the latter one was released two days after the May 13 incident. There isn’t any other information that shows other organisations were doing the same thing, thus this can fully prove the importance and the leadership role played by the Singapore People’s Anti-British League in the May 13 Incident. Below is the full content of the statement:

Oppose the British imperialists’ violent act in persecuting the students!
- A letter from Singapore People’s Anti-British League to the compatriots on the “May 13 Incident”

Our dear fellows!

The British imperialists are enforcing registration for conscription in Singapore. They compel the youngsters in Singapore to become cannon-fodder and prepare to push them to battle with the National Liberation Army in the Federation. They attempted to invade people’s democratic countries, to launch World War III and to make use of Asians to fight with Asians.

The British imperialists’ barbaric measures have caused extreme anger and opposition of the people throughout Singapore. The people of Singapore have further awakened after going through the anti-conscription struggle, while the British imperialists have been unprecedentedly and politically isolated.

On 13 May noon, student delegates from the Singapore Chinese High School and the Chung Cheng High School together with about 1000 students of the call-up age assembled at the King George V Park preparing to proceed to petition the British imperialists’ Governor for exemption from conscription. The British imperialists not only prohibited students from making such peaceful and reasonable demand, they even deployed a lot of riot vehicles, patrol cars, various police vans and a few hundreds of armed policemen. Under the commands of white-skinned senior police officers, they maniacally attacked the empty-handed students. Over 400 students on the spot were severely beaten up by the British imperialist’ policemen, kicked and injured by policemen’s boots and struck and seriously injured by the policemen’s batons. Around 50 students were seriously injured. These students were beaten up until their whole bodies were covered with blood, and some even fainted. The policemen and detectives of the British imperialists even took the advantage of insulting female students who were there to support to the petition, and furthermore threatened to beat all the students till they die. One female student was lifted up by two beastly policemen and thrown violently into a big drain. This female student vomited blood on the spot and sustained severe injuries. Three students’ heads were cracked by policemen’s batons. One student’s head was severely injured and was sewn six stitches.

After this horrible incident, the British imperialists again unreasonably arrested around 100 students. They used brutal punishments on the young students, and forcibly imposed charges on the students for “violating the laws”.

The British imperialists’ violent act has provoked the people throughout Singapore. The broad masses supported students’ just struggle with different actions. In that evening, 3000 students assembled at Chung Cheng High School (main school), protesting against the evil act of the British imperialists, demanding the British imperialists to immediately and unconditionally release the arrested students.

It is an inhumane crime of the British imperialists by using force against empty-handed students. They must bear the full responsibility for this bloody terrorist incident.

Dear fellows, who do not have sons and daughters, brothers and sisters? Who will tolerate when witnessing such cruel act in barbarously persecuting the students?

We all know that all countries throughout the world exempt youths who are still studying from conscription, even when the Fascist Japanese ruled Malaya, they did not conscript students to become “backup soldiers”. But now the British imperialists arrested students to enlist in military service, showing that the British imperialists are even more violent and brutal than the evil Japanese robbers.

We call upon everyone who has conscience, a sense of justice and a love for peace to unite and condemn the British imperialists’ atrocities in persecuting the students, to demand the British imperialists to immediately and unconditionally release all arrested students and to promise that similar incidents will not recur, to demand the British imperialists to take immediate action to punish the police officers who are responsible for those atrocities!

It is definite that after the British imperialists created this terrifying incident, they will further eliminate the Chinese education and will persecute the young students more maniacally. The people throughout Singapore should get united quickly, raise their vigilance and get ready to smash various evil plots of the British imperialists.

Dear fellows! It is an undeniable fact that: Under the fascist rule of the British imperialists, the people must suffer from brutal persecution and genocide. We should all unite, under the leadership of the Communist Party of Malaya, expel the British imperialists from Malaya and establish a country of the people. Only in this way, the people can live peacefully, freely, and blissfully ever after.

Issued by the Singapore People’s Anti-British League

Dated 15 May 1954

(Sahabat Rakyat Editor’s Note: Statement above is extracted from The Years of Anti-British Guerrilla Warfare Around Gunung Ledang, pg276, published by Footprints Publishing Co. in 2011)

Sahabat Rakyat (asking Lim Hock Koon): May we know if you have seen this second statement before? Or are you aware about it?

Lim Hock Koon (after reading the scanned copy): This is an important statement released by the Singapore People’s Anti-British League on May 13 Incident. I should have seen it and probably disseminated this leaflet before when promoting Anti-British League’s activities. However, as the incident happened 60 years back and I am getting old, I can’t remember it clearly now.

Sahabat Rakyat: Could you please share your further views about the argument/debate about whether MCP exercised leadership in the “May 13 Incident” or the “May 13 Student Movement” in the 60th anniversary commemoration of the May 13 student movement?

Lim Hock Koon: Although I had experienced the “May 13 Incident”, I was not involved in the further activities after the “May 13 Incident” as was running away from being pursue. I did not study much and have limited theoretical knowledge, I can only raise some shallow opinions based on my own experience and understanding. You all are very concerned about the “May 13 Incident” and the corresponding debates caused by it, I would like to hear about your views instead.

Sahabat Rakyat: Alright. We (Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee Members) had some discussions before publishing the articles about the arguments on Sahabat Rakyat blog and had achieved some preliminary views. We are of the view that : 1) The broke out of this debate perhaps was due to the divergence of the debaters perceiving this incident from different perspectives such as Chung Cheng High School or the Chinese High School, and from partial or from the entire situation;
2) The broke out of this debate might also due to the divergence of debaters in their perceiving on the definition of the “May 13 Incident” and the “May 13 Student Movement”;
3) This debate might also break out because of some former student movement and former political leaders as well as a few scholars either consciously or unconsciously adapt to the existing needs of the ruling clique, intentionally or unintentionally deny the position and role of MCP in the anti-colonialisation movement history prior to the independence of Singapore (i.e. before 1960s). Using modern academic term, they are “removing MCP” from their commentaries and remarks. They seem to be doing public opinion preparatory for PAP ruling clique who shall be releasing “The 50 years founding history of Singapore” during Singapore’s 50 years of independence.
We think that the divergence mentioned in point 1 or point 2 are purely internal conflicts within the people, which can be resolved by achieving consensus via discussion; if it belongs to point 3, it contains both internal and external (enemy) characteristics, thus there are two types of possibilities (i) achieve consensus via debate to resolve the conflicts/contradictions; and (ii) attack/dampen the opposition party, fight ruthlessly to the bitter end. Will there be any conclusion from this debate, and what sort of outcome will be achieved from this debate? It depends on the quality and wisdom of the debaters and different corresponding parties. What do you think?

Lim Hock Koon: I will seriously consider your opinions. In your conversation with me, you all have used “May 13 Incident” and “May 13 Student Movement” two different phrases explicitly in giving opinion or raising questions. I would like to understand how do you all define each phrase and how do you tell the differences between the two?

Sahabat Rakyat: “May 13 Incident” to us is the incident happened 60 years back, in early March 1954, when newspapers released the news that the British colonial government prepared to force the youths to join national service, resulting in the Chinese middle school students of call-up age to revolt, and petitioned the Governor on 13 May to exempt from conscription, ended up in a bloodshed incident suppressed ruthlessly by the British colonial government and students being arrested. In order to protest against the atrocities of the British colonial government and to demand for the release of arrested students, the Chinese middle school students who were filled with righteous indignation launched a 2-day “Camp-in at Chung Cheng High campus on 22 May”, followed by a 22-day “Major Camp-in at Chinese High campus on 2 June”. It set a shining example of Chinese middle school students courageously struggled against the British colonial government. We regard this spontaneous collective action of the Chinese school students opposing conscription and suppression as the “May 13 Incident”.

To us, the “May 13 Student Movement” is the result of the “May 13 Incident” in which the students protested against conscription and suppression, till the Chinese Middle School students strongly united as one and formed “Singapore Chinese Middle School Students’ Union” on 30 October 1955. They continued to fight for a peaceful and liberal learning environment till Singapore Chinese Middle School Students’ Union was banned and opposed to the closing-down of Singapore Chinese schools (including middle schools, primary schools and even kindergartens) by Lee Kuan Yew. We consider the “May 13 Incident” after World War II till the Chinese school student movement before all Chinese schools were completely shut down to be the “May 13 Student Movement” as it was the extension and development from the “May 13” struggle.

The picture above is a woodcut of the “May 13 Incident” by artist Choo Keng Kwang in 1954. It profoundly reflects the courageous spontaneous struggle of the Chinese middle school students against conscription of the British colonialists in 1950s.

The picture below is an oil painting entitled “The Malaya’s Poetry” by Cai Mingzhi in 1955. It profoundly reflects the aspiration and the determination of the “May 13 Student Movement” (mainly Chinese middle school students) in 1950s to end the British colonial rule and to materialise a peaceful, liberal, independent and democratic Malaya (including Singapore).

We regard it as the “May 13 Student Movement” or the Chinese middle school students’ movement because it fulfils a few characteristics of the social movement:
1) It has significant social values; (2) It shows distinct ideology; (3) It has spontaneous grassroots causes; (4) It stimulates lasting wide participating actions (5) It has huge impact on the society.  It became a movement due to abovementioned characteristics. Therefore, it is improbable that this movement had no leadership. If it did not have leadership, the British colonial government would have not been so worried, and Lee Kuan Yew would have not been so afraid of it. Lee Kuan Yew finally gained the support of the leaders who had huge influence over the movement, thus won the support of the Chinese community from lower class and took full control over Singapore in 1959 (at that time, it was just a self-government dominated by the British).  Lee cunningly made use of this movement. He then undermined the leaders of this movement and destroyed the effective forces of this movement right after he has seized power.

Lim Hock Koon: Now I understand the reason that you all differentiate the “May 13 Incident” and the “May 13 Student Movement”. I agree with you that the period “May 13 Incident” (i.e. the struggle of the Chinese middle school students against conscription) lasted for around 3 months, which started from late March 1954 and ended on 24 June. I also basically agree with your definition and remark on the “May 13 Student Movement”. I admire your assertion that “Lee Kuan Yew made use of this movement and ultimately ruined it”. I still remember while I delivered my speech in the “May 13 Student Movement” 60th anniversary commemoration event, I borrowed Hock Siew, my second eldest brother’s words uttered before he passed away (Sahabat Rakyat Editor’s Notes: This refers to the article entitled “A Turning Point in Our People’s Struggle” written by Lim Hock Siew on 26 Jul 2011. This is the Preface written for “The Precious Historical Collections of Singapore Student Movement in the British Colonial Era (Sep 1945 – Oct 1965)”《英殖民地时代新加坡学生运动珍贵史料选——1945年9月 – 1965年10月》) which was similar to your views: “May 13 Incident” had set off the political waves of anti-colonialisation, and pushed forward PAP in seizing the political power of Singapore in 1959   (Sahabat Rakyat Editor’s Notes: At that time it was still a self-government). Lee Kuan Yew persecuted inhumanely those who supported him after he has successfully seized power – wasn’t this a betrayal of Lee Kuan Yew towards the people?

Sahabat Rakyat: According to the description in The Mighty Wave, Li Xin, your leader did give you such command while you were hiding yourself from being arrested: Leave it to others to work on the student’s movement. You focused on completing the final analysis of the “May 13 Incident” first, then only engaged in other work. Is this a fact? Did you complete this first? Was it publicly released? Where can we find this analysis report now?

The picture (right) is another precious photo from Lim Hock Koon which shows Lin Jinquan, an intimate comrade of Lim Hock Koon, that Lim Hock Koon is still keeping. According to Lim Hock Koon, this photo was taken in 1990s after the guerrilla war ended and when Lin Jinquan was still in the Chulaphorn Peace Village, Betong. Lin Jinquan is also a well-known leftist literary and art worker. The Mighty Wave is a novel by him based on the “May 13 Movement”.

In Chapter 8 of The Mighty Wave, there is such a plot – where Li Xin said (to Tianzhu and Zhengbo) “As your identities have been exposed, you should go underground. This is in accordance with the October Resolution (which was issued in 1951, in which the MCP relegated armed struggle to being of secondary importance to the united front strategy). You should not hesitate. Let others take over the student movement. Henceforth you are professional cadres. The organisation will pay you a monthly stipend of 25 dollars. You should spend your time here concentrating on writing your final analysis of the May 13 event. After that you will prepare for other work, including the ceremony for entry as full members of the party.”

Lim Hock Koon: Yes, this is a fact. In early 1955, under Li Xin’s instruction, Lin Jinquan and I together completed a summary report on the “513” struggle. This report contains around 15,000 (Chinese) characters, written on circa 40 pieces of paper. Upon completion, I passed them to Li Xin. After reading it Li Xin said to me “Well done! I will pass to the superior”. I have never seen the report after submitting it to Li Xin (Lin Jinquan and I both did not keep a copy). From what happened on us, now maybe we can only find it in Singapore special branch’s archive.

Sahabat Rakyat: You told us in the 1st part of the interview that it was your cousin Sun Chunsheng who first approached you in the underground relationship. He studied in Chinese High School and you studied in Chung Cheng. Why it was Li Xin instead of Sun Chunsheng who led you?

Lim Hock Koon: At the beginning, it was Sun Chunsheng who approached me, then it was Li Xin because Li was in charge of developing underground activities at Northbridge (Town) Area (小坡区). He often approached some shop assistants at Northbridge (Town) Area, a schoolmate of mine stayed at upstairs of a shop lot at Northbridge (Town) Area. One of the shop assistants in that shop developed my schoolmate, and that schoolmate guided me. That’s how I got to know Li Xin. My cousin Sun Chunsheng was also Li Xin’s subordinate. Northbridge (Town) Area that Li Xin was responsible of during that time, was a very active area of the Anti-British League.

Sahabat Rakyat: Besides the question of who led the “May 13 Incident”, do you have anything to add?

Lim Hock Koon: I agree that the “May 13 Incident” was a massive spontaneous collective action like what you all said, it is also an objective fact that this anti-conscription and anti-suppression struggle had the participation and leadership of the Anti-British League. But I can still hardly accept the saying that it was commanded by a certain person, e.g. Chinese High School Action Committee was led by Chiam Chong Chian at the back. Let me take the situation in Chung Cheng as an example. During that time, Chung Cheng formed an action committee consisted of 5 person, i.e. Lim Hock Koon, Lin Jinquan (林金泉), Wu Zongze(吴宗泽), the late Zheng Shizhong (郑识钟), and the late Huang Weirong (黄伟荣). Some of these 5 members were Anti-British League members, but were not appointed by Anti-British League leadership to participate. There is not any sign nor evidence to prove that any of the 5 members was commanded by MCP member or leader behind (Lin Jinquan and I both joined MCP after the “May 13 Incident” when trying to escape from being arrested. In other words, both of us were forced to the corner by the British colonial government). During that time, 5 of us often met in school, discussed problems, shared Freedom News and Anti-British League leaflets. When Anti-British League urged to protest against conscription and suppression, we then spontaneously established a 5-person action committee and carried out underground activities.

Sahabat Rakyat: When were you arrested? Did Lu Zhendong (陆振东) sell you out?

Lim Hock Koon: I was arrested on 20 Jan 1971. However, the authority only announced my arrest in the newspapers a couple of months later. From the emerged evidence, Lu Zhendong did sell me out. But I was pretty doubtful about the confession he made at his old age when he became seriously ill.

(Sahabat Rakyat Editor’s Note: Lu Zhendong was Lim Hock Koon’s MCP comrade who joined underground activities together with him. Why did Lu, this MCP member who sacrificed his life for revolution unexpectedly burned himself using petrol on 19 Mar 2013 and died on 20 Mar? Different people had different sayings. Over the past few years, a manuscript entitled “From beginning to the end of the arrest of Lim Hock Koon” by “Xi” has been disseminated in the circles of some original leftists inside and outside the country (mainly in Singapore, Malaysia including Sabah Sarawak, southern part of Thailand and Hong Kong). The manuscript does not indicate the completion date of the manuscript. According to the people of this circle, this is the “confession” written by Lu Zhendong in 2006. Is this the truth?  It is thought-provoking.

The picture (bottom left) below is the photocopied manuscript of “From beginning to the end of the arrest of Lim Hock Koon”; The bottom right picture is Lim Hock Koon taken after he was released in 1979.

Sahabat Rakyat: Now we don’t discuss whether or not Lu Zhendong sold you out but back to the topic on the “May 13 Incident”. We also wish to ask you, apart from the summary report on the “May 13 Incident” that you submitted to Li Xin, who else from the Anti-British League had made any summary on the “May 13 Incident”?

Lim Hock Koon: I am not sure.

Sahabat Rakyat: Apart from the summary report on “May 13 struggle” that you and Lin Jinquan had written which has yet to be found now, we had searched for some relevant information before this interview, but could hardly find any specific paper on “May 13 Incident” or “May 13 Student Movement” which drew summary from socio-political movement perspective. Chia Yam Wee, who now resides in Hong Kong wrote an article entitled A History of the May 13 All-Singapore Chinese Middle School Student Movement on 11 May 2004 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the “May 13 Student Movement”, the contents are more on narrating the incident and less on summarising the struggle. As someone who personally experienced and led the movement before, his summary on the “Significance and Impact of the 513 Student Campaign” is considered pretty neutral and organised. We take the liberty to append his paper at the end of this interview report for the reference of those like-minded people who are interested in it, and we seek for the kind understanding of the author. We thank Lim Hock Koon for accepting our interview today.

Significance and Impact of the Student Campaign

Other than achieving its goal and having a far-reaching impact, the significance of the campaign lies in the fact that it dealt a severe blow to the edifice of colonialism.

1. It galvanised Chinese middle school students in Singapore, reached out to English-educated university students, and culminated in the creation of the Singapore Chinese Middle School Students’ Union (SCMSSU).

2. The SCMSSU continued to nurture talents; encourage social activities (promoting culture and bursaries, upholding national education, helping people facing natural disasters and so on); supported the causes of farmers and workers and served the people.

3. It prepared activists necessary to win battles in the ensuing mass movement, independence movement and the formation of leftist parties (including the pre-1961 PAP).After graduation, many of the May 13 core participants took part in mass organisations, such as trade unions and left-wing parties, including the PAP. When students gathered at the Badminton Hall to welcome the British lawyer, D N Pritt, Lee Kuan Yew, who was also a lawyer then, told the crowd that he believed they would come to play a vital role in the Malayan independence movement. He praised the Chinese school students for their discipline and organisational skills. Sure enough, many of them did eventually throw themselves into the Singapore and Malayan independence movement, and contributed towards the anti-colonial struggle. It is unfortunate that not a few of them were suppressed, attacked and destroyed in the midst of political struggle. That notwithstanding, the contributions made by these talented people towards the anti-colonial struggle of Singapore and Malaya can never be obliterated.

4. It nurtured and cultivated talents for various progressive organisations. The student movement had trained a large number of individuals in the spirit of sacrifice.

5. It went beyond the constraints of the Emergency Law, and provided leadership for the labour movement.

 (Sahabat Rakyat Editor’s Note: Article above is the last paragraph of A History of the May 13 All-Singapore Chinese Middle School Student Movement written by Chia 10 years back (in 2004). The full article was first published in April 2008 in the 27th edition of Artistic World with the nickname “Gao Tu” (高徒), it was second published in February 2012 in The Precious Historical Collections of Singapore Student Movement in the British Colonial Era again with his nickname “Gao Tu”, it was then thirdly published in ‘Youth on Trial” using his real name.

Note: Names that are not available in its English origin are translated as per Hanyu Pinyin.

~ The end of Part 2 ~


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通告 Notification

人民之友 对我国第14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。



Pandangan Sahabat Rakyat terhadap PRU14 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 kepada kuasa! " (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 GE14 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 upcoming 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 14th General Election carried out by various political parties and their practices in all fields in future.

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