detention without trial

My grandfather was a political detainee under the Internal Security Act back in the 1960's. It was in the wee hours of 2nd February 1963 when a couple of officers from the Special Branch together with burly looking fully armed gurkha guards banged on his door and took him away from the arms of his loving wife and two kids, a son aged 6 and a daughter aged 5, and not forgetting the 6 month old baby that had yet to come into the world.

Who would think that he would only then see the light of day after a gruelling 16 years in prison and a year of exile on a secluded island off the island of Singapore.

He was accused of being a communist, a traitor of the land, when all he did was to stand up for the people's rights. And being charged under the infamous Internal Security Act, there was no need for a trial and for him to be officially charged in court, this being a gross violation of the most fundamental aspect of human rights.

As a 35 year old editor in chief of one of the leading papers of the nation, he was a young and bright mind who fought for what he believed in - for freedom of the press. He was not about to let his paper be run by the people who fabricated the truth. These people he despised and retaliated against. And what he got out of it was a 'banishment', from his country, his people and most importantly his family.

Months of solitary confinement, forced feeding and deadly threats were not about to break him. Though some may think him selfish to not think of his family's welfare, he was indeed making a statement, not only for himself but also for the masses. He was upholding his rights and all that he stood for. How can that be called selfish?

Prison never stopped him. He wrote poems on pieces of toilet paper when he could and mastered the Mandarin language from his cell mates among others. A year of exile on the island of Pulau Ubin further strengthened him physically and psychologically. He regretted not one second of the entire ordeal.

Today, he is a respected figure among his peers and the upcoming generation. Being the second longest serving political detainee, he has encouraged many young visionairies to keep fighting - for the people's rights and for their freedom. Through his two memoirs published in the 3 main languages - English, Mandarin and Malay - he has spoken about his life, his experiences and most of all his struggle. Currently working on the final part of his trilogy of memoirs, he is stronger than ever and determined to have his voice heard.


How many tears been shed,
screams suppressed,
every minute, every hour
in this dungeon of horror!

How much blood has flowed?
countless broken bones
scattered on this mute floor
in island Singapore.

It is ominously serene.
The air is unclean
a foul odor hangs about
with no way out.

My mind's eye sees
monstrous faces,
ugly yearnings,
human moanings.

Exulting, these savages
imagine victory is theirs.
Hear them laughing?
Wishful thinking!

Every drop of tear,
every clot of blood,
every piece of bone,
never forgotten.

Instead of oblivion
into revolutionary seeds
they are transformed,
now sprouting
into a gigantic force.

They will grow
to wipe these savages out
and the people will
fear no more.


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