by Teo Soh Lung
“Now some of you may have heard that when you are young you are idealistic, when you're old you are realistic. Now this is the kind of rubbish that is used by those who have either lost their ideals or have sold their ideals for self-interests. Age should not wither one's ideals or convictions.
If anything, it should only consolidate and make it more resolute. If age has anything to do with it, it is only by way of expression and application of these ideals and convictions having the benefit of a youthful experience. And a life without convictions, without idealism, is a mere meaningless existence, and I'm sure most of you will agree that as human beings, we are worthy of a life much more meaningful than just that.”
- Dr Lim Hock Siew at the launch of Fajar Generation on 14 Nov 2009.
Dr Lim Hock Siew was a friend of former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. A brilliant orator, talented artist and true socialist, he was about 9 years younger than Lee. He helped Lee found the PAP in 1954 and assisted in the drafting of the constitution for the party. In 1961, Lee did not renew his membership with the party. Together with others who had been either expelled from the party or left because of ideological differences, Dr Lim founded the Barisan Sosialis.
On 2 Feb 1963, just a few months before the general election, Dr Lim together with almost the entire central executive committee of the Barisan were arrested under the ISA. Codenamed Operation Coldstore, a total of not less than 133 people were arrested and imprisoned for an inordinate period of time, many exceeding 10 years. At the time of arrest, Dr Lim’s son was only five months old. An idealist and a principled man, Dr Lim remained in prison for 20 years. He refused to give Lee the satisfaction of any signed statement. Lee himself could have released Dr Lim at any time by imposing conditions for his release without having to obtain his signature. He did not do so and I can only conclude that it was fear that Dr Lim could revive opposition politics in Singapore that would endanger the survival of the PAP that caused Lee to exert such cruelty on his erstwhile friend who had contributed hugely to his party.
Incidentally, 20 years is more than a sentence for life imprisonment for a convicted criminal. A life sentence with its usual one third remission for good behaviour is 14 years.
Ex-political prisoner speaks out in Singapore (Banned in Singapore)
Ex-ISA detainee issues challenge to Dr Tony Tan
Dr Lim Hock Siew : A Singaporean Patriot
Tributes to Dr Lim Hock Siew
Dr Lim Hock Siew Speaks from Singapore Prison (Date - 18.3.1972)