The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore
Editor: Hong Lysa, Poh Soo Kai, Tan Kok Fang
Publisher: SIRD & Pusat Sejarah Rakyat
Operation Coldstore remains the most contentious event in the history of postcolonial Singapore. Despite attempts by the state to silence ex-detainees, by warning that they would not be permitted to rewrite the state’s official version of history, the authors in this volume have done just that.
They have placed on record their own perspective of events. The autobiographical element in the narratives brings to life what these individuals went through as left-wing political actors who responded to the call of anti colonialism and the challenge of shaping a new society. Their accounts of life in prison are a sober reminder of the deprivations and tortures inflicted to break their spirit. These stirring accounts are supplemented by academic contributions that provide contextual depth to the historical events and a critique of history writing in Singapore.
‘Fifty years after Operation Coldstore is certainly not too soon a time for us to speak about our understanding of our imprisonment. I maintain that I was imprisoned for being part of a slate of left-wing anti colonialists who were going to pose a challenge to Lee Kuan Yew in the election of 1963. The charge of communism and subversion, used to frame people like me, has simply been chanted repeatedly to this day. Our rejection of the charge has been ignored outright, without any attempt to supply evidence or specific details which we could answer. But answer we must. I particularly feel it is a duty I owe to all my friends who have passed on. I owe a duty to all of them to describe the conditions of our time, the struggle we were engaged in, the consequences that befell us, because we were in it all together.’
- Poh Soo Kai