Defiance in Singapore

FA3_PSK_Cover_19Jan16.pdfEditor emeritus of JCA, Peter Limqueco has contributed a new review. He takes a look at Living in a Time of Deception (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1243253) by former political prisoner Poh Soo Kai and edited by Hong Lysa.

Published in Singapore and Petaling Jaya by Function 8 and Pusat Sejarah Rakyat in 2016, this book “challenges the official [Singaporean government] interpretation but also rewrites part of Singapore history.” As Limqueco notes. “Poh Soo Kai, having been a victim of state repression and having had to spend a total of 17 years in jail without trial, is well qualified to challenge state hagiographers.” For Limqueco, this “historical memoir,” is “part of the suppressed histories of Singapore, as well as that of Southeast Asia.”

The book traces the author’s family history as it becomes his political history and how this becomes intertwined with anti-colonialism and the negotiations for independence. In that period, the author maintains that Lee Kuan Yew “… was under the wing of British intelligence through Alex Josey since 1952.”

This is not simply a memoir, for the author has gone back to archives and looked at colonial era documents in making judgements about this important period.

In the end, “Poh is still defiant after all these years. Dr Poh left prison angrier, instead of happy. He did not capitulate to the wishes of his jailers and came out all the more defiant. Neither did he accept nor follow any of the conditions the PAP government sought to impose on his release.” The final chapters review his political activism, meetings with a younger generation of activists and “his renewed commitment to socialism.”

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