Winds of Change knocks at Lee Kuan Yew’s Door

November 23, 2012

Winds of Change knocks at Lee Kuan Yew’s Door

by The Malaysia-Chronicle (11-22-12)

UPDATE3: Comparison and analysis about the styles and qualities of two notorious Southeast Asian autocrats – Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir Mohamad – are bound to be reignited with the release of two books published this year to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Singapore’s infamous Operation Spectrum that saw 22 social activists, lawyers, journalists and church workers detained without trial in May 1987.

One of the books ‘Prelude to the Post-Lee Kuan Yew era‘  written by political exile Tan Wah Piow, who was thrown into jail for allegedly “masterminding a Marxist plot”, will be launched on Saturday November 24 at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur.

According to Wah Piow, “Many Malaysians do not see “the other side of the moon”, and, especially the Chinese Malaysians such as those in the DAP thinks Lee Kuan Yew is the alternative”.

The former student leader, who was forced to flee to the United States, was referring to the Democratic Action Party – one of the three parties that form Malaysia’s main Opposition coalition, the Pakatan Rakyat, and which is often accused by Prime Minister Najib Razak’ UMNO party of being a tool of Singapore’s PAP.

While PR leaders have often lambasted UMNO’s “mischievous” claims, Wah Piow is right in that many Malaysian Chinese do admire Kuan Yew for transforming Singapore from a tiny, backward tropical island with few natural resources into a regional economic powerhouse, known for its ‘squeaky-clean’ administration and meritocratic education policies.

“UMNO will tag any rival a Jew or US or Singapore lover. That is the extent of its political maturity. I haven’t read the Singapore books yet but I would certainly agree that while Kuan Yew has achieved much and will on the balance be respected by history, there is a very dark side to his political hegemony,” PKR Vice President Chua Jui Meng, told Malaysia Chronicle.

“In this aspect, he does not differ much from our Dr M.  Both are leaders who demand complete control and obedience from their people. They are ruthless and will scheme to get their way. This is something that Malaysian Chinese must be aware of and reject outright. No amount of super efficiency or great governance can compensate for the loss of basic human rights or the freedom to choose particularly over who should lead a nation.”

The Other Side of the Moon: Forum on Saturday

Till today, many Singaporeans do not believe in the PAP government’s claim of a Marxist plot, and despite the lapse of time, the issue continues to haunt the political credibility of the regime, and a lingering embarrassment to the more liberal elements within the ruling PAP.

Coincidence or not, across the Causeway in Malaysia the same year, former leader Mahathir Mohamad also carried out a crackdown against dissidents that saw the arrest of 106 persons under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the revoking of the publishing licenses of two dailies, The Star and the Sin Chew Jit Poh and two weeklies, The Sunday Star and Watan.

Operation Lalang (Weeding Operation; also referred to as Ops Lalang) was carried out on October 27, 1987 by the Malaysian Police to prevent the occurrence of racial riots due to the provocation from DAP leaders and press. DAP leaders including adviser Lim Kit Siang have accused Mahathir of using the crackdown to mask corruption issues including the controversy over the high price of building the North-South expressway.

Wah Piow will also participate in a panel discussion to be moderated by social activist Maria Chin Abdullah at 2pm to 4pm. The other speakers are political analyst Wong Chin Huat and Dr G Raman, a Singapore laywer and former legal adviser to the University of Singapore Students’ Union in 1969.

Kuan Yew’s infamous Operation Spectrum

Smokescreens & Mirrors is not only a powerful rebuttal of the Singapore government’s allegations against him in 1987 as the “Mastermind of a Marxist Plot” to overthrow the PAP, it is, in the words of one Singaporean reviewer:

Smokescreens, however, is not simply a historical analysis of the political machinations that took place in 1987. It closes in the present with a call to action: Tan pushes for a re-examination of Operation Spectrum as “an initial education process to mobilise public opinion to Restart, Rejuvenate and Reclaim the Constitution” (p.72, capitals his). He establishes the foundation of his arguments upon the Singapore Constitution, which he avers “has to be the first point of reference in any political debate where liberties are at stake” (p.30). G. Raman states in his foreword that “the book contains Wah Piow’s agenda for a true democratic society in Singapore”. Smokescreens is thus polemical – and openly so.

In ‘Escape from the Lion’s Paw‘ edited by Teo Soh Lung and Low Yit Leng, Wah Piow published his long awaited account of his escapade from Singapore in 1976. The chapter “The Making of an Outlaw” is a mini-autobiography of this former student leader who was thrown into prison in 1975 following a fabricated charge. Immediately following his release, he had to devise his escape routes to avoid being inducted into the military. It became an enormous blow to the authorities when he managed to escape from the the Lion’s Paw, and and sought political asylum in the United Kingdom where he now resides and has his own legal practice. His citizenship was revoked in 1987.

This book also carries stories of escapade published for the first time of other dissidents who had to flee from LKY’s iron-fist rule, among them, the late Francis Khoo and Wah Piow’s colleagues during the University days, Tsui Hon Kwong from Hong Kong and ex-detainee, Ms Tang Fong Har.

PAP in trouble if it ignores the Winds of Change

In the Forward to Smokescreens & Mirrors, G Raman wrote: “Twenty-five years later (from 1987), Wah Piow’s dreams may not have been realised. But the dreams are taking shape and it is a matter of time before the ideals that Wah Piow espoused become a reality… It will be an opportunity missed and a road to their downfall if the PAP does not take note of the winds of change that are blowing so strongly amongst Singaporeans, especially the young”.

The call for the revamp of the way politics are managed in Singapore is inevitable, and this is becoming morepressing especially after the 2010 general elections and the 2011 Presidential Elections when the ruling PAP, though still safely in power, nevertheless suffered strategic defeats in public perception as a party which could do no wrong.”

The 3  speakers including Tan Wah Piow will address these issues in Prelude to the Post-Lee Kuan Yew Era.

Dr G Raman has been a practising lawyer in Singapore since 1969. His doctorate thesis is titled “Law as an Instrument of Social Change in Singapore”. It deals with how the PAP used law to perpetuate its hegemony in Singapore.

Raman was the legal adviser to the University of Singapore Students’ Union in 1969 and later in 1974. He represented one of the two workers charged with its student leader, Tan Wah Piow on the trumped-up charge of rioting in 1974. He was detained for more than a year in February 1977 for alleged subversive activities under the Internal Security Act.

Author of a book on probate practice in Singapore and Malaysia, Raman has contributed articles to the Journal of Contemporary Asia and other local publications.”

Dr Wong Chin Huat is a Malaysian political scientist, an university lecturer, a political activist and a columnist. He is also a committee member of Malaysia’s famous BERSIH movement, which champions free and fair elections.

Obtaining his undergraduate degree from Universiti Malaya, he completed his Master’s degree at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and in 2012 was awarded his PhD on electoral system and party politics in West Malaysia between 1982 and 2004 at the University of Essex. He is currently attached to Penang Institute, a think tank linked to the Penang State Government, currently led by the DAP.



Prelude to the Post-Lee Kuan Yew Era

Date: Saturday 24 Nov 2012  time: 2-4pm

Venue: Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

1 Jalan Maharajalela, Kampung Attap, Kuala Lumpur,  Transit: Maharajalela


Smokescreens & Mirrors by Tan Wah Piow

Escape from the Lion’s Paw edited by Teo Soh Lung & Low Yit Leng

These two books on Singapore will be launched by

Mr Tan Yew Sing & Dr Kua Kia Soong

Followed by a panel discussion:

Prelude to the Post-Lee Kuan Yew Era

Moderator : Maria Chin Abdullah


Mahathir on Mahathir

March 8, 2011

In posting this article, I must extend my apologies to Frank, Mongkut Bean, Tok Cik, Tean Rean, Danildaud and  all my good friends who feel that I have given Tun Mahathir too much exposure on this blog. Also to my most severe in-house critic, Dr. Kamsiah. I have always attempted to be fair to and yet critical of my hometown hero. This is hard  for  me  to do, although he destroyed the judiciary and other institutions of governance in order to  execute his Vision and plans for Malaysia. He did what he had to do, I would rationalise.

That said, my comments in Tom Plate‘s book, Conversations with Mahathir, stand because they were written after some agonising reflections on my part of the man I knew growing up in Alor Setar,Kedah Darul Aman in the 1950s .I also served him for  a few years when he was Chairman, Kumpulan FIMA Berhad before I joined Sime Darby in 1978. He was different then, for he was a very good boss and an excellent motivator.–Din Merican

Mahathir on Mahathir: A Doctor in the House

by M Krishnamoorthy (March7, 2011) @

Dr Mahathir Mohamad dedicated 20 pages of his memoirs into detailing how he came to know about Anwar Ibrahim‘s alleged sexual liaisons with men and women, leading to the latter’s sacking in 1998.

In the chapter ‘Anwar’s Challenge’, Mahathir states: “Four years after IGP Tun Hanif first told me about allegations linking Anwar to homosexual activities, someone sent me the book ‘50 Dalil Kenapa Anwar Ibrahim Tidak Boleh Jadi Perdana Menteri‘ (’50 Reasons Why Anwar Ibrahim Cannot Become Prime Minister’).

“The book was clearly a sensationalist attempt to make money so I did not read it, but the rumours about Anwar refused to go away.”

He then cites, “Then in 1997, I received a letter from a woman named Ummi Hafilda Ali. Its contents disturbed me as there were more specific allegations of sodomy against Anwar.”

Meanwhile, Mahathir says: “The police had continued their observations of the deputy minister’s activities, as was their usual practice. Even if I had asked them to stop, I doubt they would have. This time they had evidence, including pictures and confessions of people involved.

Relating events that led to firing of Anwar, Mahathir narrates how he interviewed four girls who told him about how they were persuaded to see a very influential person by an Indian man they knew by the name of Nalla.

“He had taken each girl separately to a house in Kenny Hills. There they met a person they recognised as the deputy prime minister. They were asked to undress with the purpose of having sex.

“Two of them said they refused but the other two consented. They were willing to talk to the police and to me but were adamant that they should not appear in court to give evidence.”

Mahathir said he then called the UMNO menteris besar, chief ministers and state heads to Sri Perdana for a meeting and asked the police to make the witnesses he had interviewed available.

“I then briefed party leaders about what I had learnt about Anwar and showed them pictures of the witnesses.”

Tell-all book

This was among the many chapters in the 800 page memoirs, which also details his earliest memories of childhood; through Malaya’s struggle through the sunset of British colonialism, World War II, and Independence; and to his life as a doctor.

In a tell-all book, Mahathir states categorically that he is a Malay.  “Some claim that my father was Malayalee and was fluent in both Tamil and Malayalam. Some have even written that he was a Hindu who converted to Islam to marry my mother. Others say they have seen documents clearly stating my ethnicity. I admit that some Indian, or more accurately South Asian blood flows in my veins, but from which part of the Indian subcontinent my ancestors came I do not know,” he says in the beginning of Chapter three of the 62 chapter memoirs, which is 843 pages long.

On Singapore’s leader Lee Kuan Yew (left) he says: “I had clashed with Lee many times when we were MPs in the 1964 and 1965 parliamentary sessions. I did not like his endless preaching of about what Malaysia should do or should be like.

“Bitter over the painful separation, he called Malays ‘the jungle Arabs’, likening them to the desert Arabs of who he seemed to have a low opinion. I doubt he would disparage the Arabs today as Singapore is now far more active than Malaysia in wooing investors from the Middle East, and being the model as well as their advisers for development.”

On the bright side, he says, “Despite our past clashes, I was determined to have friendly relations with Singapore when I became Prime Minister.”

Operations Lalang

In addition to a lot of personal, if controversial anecdotes, Mahathir narrates his constant struggles as a politician to improve the lot of his fellow citizens; his single-minded pursuit of his country’s goals; his greatest fears; and his most cherished hopes.

In a 20-page chapter on Operasi Lalang, he says: ” I told Musa Hitam, my then deputy prime minister and minister of Home Affairs, to tell the IGP very early in my premiership that I did not intend to use the ISA.

“How then could I have allowed Ops Lalang, biggest of such police operation in Malaysian history, to happen just six years later?”

In 1987, with the Chinese language issue, university rallies, UMNO’s accusation of mass conversions of Malays into Christians and a Malay soldier running amok and firing M-16 in Jalan Chow Kit, he says: “The police felt that a repeat of the May 13 riots of 1969 was more than likely. The IGP advised me that pre-emptive arrests under the ISA had to be made quickly if public order was to be maintained.

“Agreeing to follow the IGP’s recommendations meant having to overcome my own conscience.”

On former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin (right), he says: “He was repeatedly accused of lining his pockets and taking kickbacks from contracts. No clear evidence was ever produced, but once again the whispering grew louder and more spiteful. People came to see me to complain about him, and when I demanded evidence, they could not produce.”

Daim, as usual, ignored all the talk about him. “He must have learnt the rumours but he chose not to reply. When the talk got to be too much and I could not bear it any more, I arranged for him to resign.

“In the end what worried me were not only the rumours of cronyism but also tales of his supposed disloyalty. He was supportive during the financial crisis, at least in front of me.”

Mahathir said he was later informed by Abdul Ghani Othman that Daim had called a number of menteris besar, telling them not to support his idea of currency controls.”Since nobody else came with similar complaints I just discounted the story. But when it had all become too much, I didn’t accuse him of anything but sent word through a mutual friend that I wanted him to resign.”

On succeeding as prime minister from Hussein Onn, he says: “As deputy prime minister, I was a man chosen by a leader who did not have strong support in the party. I was obviously not going to have an easy time and Hussein could not provide much protection for me.

“Hussein had depended on Razak for support when he was chosen as deputy prime minister. When Razak died, Hussein had no great grassroots base to speak of. “The arrests and detention of the so-called communists’ sympathisers high in the party seemed to suggest that his office was influenced by communists.”

The book will be launched tomorrow at 3pm in the East Atrium Concourse (in front of MPH Bookstores), Mid Valley Megamall.It will retail at RM100 and is published by MPH Group Publishing.

March 8, 2011

The Malaysian Insider says: Mahathir’s Memoirs is a great work of fiction

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s autobiography “A Doctor in the House” should be read by all Malaysians because it is an enjoyable book. It is after all a great work of fiction.

Reading the book, one will have to come to only one conclusion — he was not guilty of any wrongdoing in his time as Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister.Take Ops Lalang for example.

Dr Mahathir says that he disliked the Internal Security Act (ISA) because he was once a potential detainee as well, or so he claims.In his autobiography, Dr Mahathir puts forward the argument that he never wanted anyone arrested during one of his administration’s biggest crisis in 1987.

But he was convinced by the police that some arrests would have to be made to prevent another May 13. Dr Mahathir writes that he thought only a few people would be detained, but was flabbergasted by the final number, which was 554.We are sure many Malaysians were also flabbergasted.

He also claimed he was not told that newspapers such as The Star, Sin Chew Daily and Watan would be banned. That’s a good one Doc.

As for the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President in 1988, Dr Mahathir makes a fantastic revelation.He claims that Salleh was actually removed because the latter had complained about the noise coming from the renovation works of the King’s private home.

Dr Mahathir says he does not have a copy of the letter and acknowledges the fact that the Attorney-General did not use it during Salleh’s tribunal hearing. He wrote that it would be the A-G who would be in the best position to verify his claim.

That’s convenient. These are just two examples of Dr Mahathir’s amazing stories.He has been an amazing story-teller after all for most of his life. And his book is certainly ‘unputdownable.’ So go ahead. Buy the book. It is a must-read.