Living in a Time of Deception: a Historical Memoir of Singapore 1945-65

Barisan Sosialis, Operation Coldstore

Living in a Time of Deception: a Historical Memoir of Singapore 1945-65

Wednesday, 4 May 2016 - 2:00pm
Venue: 
Deakin Room
Speaker(s): 
Dr Poh Soo Kai (Former Political Prisoner; Independent Author)
Chair: 
Dr Ping Tjin Thum
Convenor: 
Dr M J Walton
Series: 
Southeast Asia Seminar

Living in a Time of Deception is a study of Singapore history from the post-war period to 1965, which the author describes as a historical memoir. Part of Singapore’s agitation against colonial rule, Dr Poh Soo Kai remains one of the most respected former political prisoners in Singapore.

While the establishment’s account of Singapore’s history maintains that the battle was one between the communists and non-communists, Dr Poh firmly puts anti-colonialism, nationalism and socialism as the forces that drove the young men and women who were his contemporaries. He also delves into how being imprisoned without trial, potentially indefinitely without any recourse, leaves none of them unscathed.

The People’s Action Party, Singapore’s only ruling party to date, continues to justify the mass arrests and imprisonment of the most able left-wing leaders as security measures against communist subversion.

In this seminar, Dr Poh will discuss his book, his political career, and the lessons drawn from his long experience.

Dr Poh Soo Kai was the president of the University of Malaya Socialist Club in 1954-55 and its secretary general in 1955-56. He was a member of the eight-person editorial board of the Socialist Club newsletter, Fajar, who were charged by the colonial government in 1954 with sedition. He was a founding member of the People’s Action Party in 1954 and was later the Assistant Secretary-General of Barisan Socialis when it was established in 1961. In 1963, he was detained without trial under Operation Coldstore and was held for a total of 17 years. He has recently published his memoir, Living in a Time of Deception, which has just launched in Singapore and Malaysia.