Friday, 16 December 2011

The Late S Rajaratnam - "Is God a Liberation Theologian?" [Part II]

"I believe that Karl Marx could have subscribed to the Sermon on the Mount," says Fidel Castro to liberation theologian Frei Betto as he draw similarities to martyrdom of early Christians and the pantheon of Communist martyrs. In the rest of his speech to NUS upon the arrest of the Marxist Conspirators, the late S Rajaratnam makes his argument of an alliance of anti-capitalists comprising of Marxist, Leninist, Maoist, Nihilist and Liberation Theologians. In his view, Leninist and Maoist do not adhere to Marxist principles closely but merely use it to acquire state power. Ideologies are simply tools of political agitation; individuals can legitimise the use of them creatively just as liberation theologians have creatively used Christianity as  a cloak. S Rajaratnam argues that the axis of Marxist-Leninist-liberation theologians are the new revolution of nihilism looking to create a new Heaven on Earth with the demise of evil capitalism.

The below is the rest of his speech that appeared on ST dated 20 Aug 1987:

Friday, 9 December 2011

The Late S Rajaratnam - "Is God a Liberation Theologian?" [Part I]

With the waning of the communist threat in the late 1980s, the opening up of China under Deng Xiaoping, the disintegrating Soviet Empire, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Singapore shocks the international stage by arresting 22 persons under the harsh ISA for a "Marxist Conspiracy". Many cried: What Communist threat? This is the government trying to silence its critics and strike fear in political opposition!

The respected PAP ideologue and co-founder S Rajaratnam, himself a Marxist during his days in London when he joined the Marxist Left Book Club, puts forth his argument of a new Marxist-Communism that will continue the struggle against capitalism using Christianity as a cloak of legitimacy. Liberation theology as it was termed, was active in certain impoverished parts of the dominant Catholic Philippines and South-America, Rajaratnam argued that the communists subverted the Christian idea emancipation for the under-privileged as a means for the communists to gain political power. Rajaratnam further argued that support for these Marxists would no longer come from Beijing or Moscow but from western democracies under the guise of "human rights".

While one can't win an argument with a dead man, his thoughts are plainly laid for debate. 

His speech to NUS students was carried in the Straits Times on 20 Aug 1987 and the first part reproduced here. Do stay tune for the rest of his speech.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Why 1987?

This blog was started out of my interest in the events of May 1987 where 16 Singaporeans were arrested and detained under the ISA for a "Marxist Conspiracy" that plotted to toppple the PAP Government. 6 more were arrested in Jun 1987 bringing the total to 22. According to the official account, the conspiracy was orchestrated by Tan Wah Piow, a student activist who had fled Singapore in 1976 after evading National Service. Those arrested served between one month and three years of detention without trial; in fact, all were released by Dec 1987 except for Vincent Cheng who was said to be the main perpetrator.

As a keen student of history, I began to read up on the available accounts online as the Marxist episode is barely covered in our education syllabus and not even bothered by those who attend local universities (mostly). In our studies, we seem to take a very critical approach to the study of Chinese, American, Indian and European histories. But somehow when talking about our own Singapore's history, it comes across as binary opposites, a battle of 'us' vs 'them', PAP vs The Rest. No doubt, to a certain extent, history is an account of battles and contestations but it is only with a closer inspection of events and persons that we may come to a better understanding of how we came to be.

These days, it's easy to read the accounts of those detained under ISA with the Internet and social media and the many opinions of those concerned over the debate to abolish the ISA. Let's just say as much as I am interested in those issues, I would leave them out for now as I would try to delve into what and why May 1987 happened.

So readers, I hope you would enjoy some of my research as much as I have enjoyed it myself.