Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The case of Tan Chay Wa

From wikipedia:The Malayan National Liberation Front (MNLF), an organisation of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) was formed in 1968 for its armed struggle to overthrow the government of Singapore and Malaysia, which the communists considered as inseparable. From 1968 to 1974, it perpetuated acts of violence that included planting booby trap bombs in public places. The MNLF was also involved in collecting supplies such as medicine, explosives and assorted equipment for the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), which was the military arm of the CPM operating in the border area of northern Malaysia and southern Thailand.

In 1976, after a prolonged investigation, the Internal Security Department, formerly the Special Branch formed by the British in 1948, arrested hundreds of MNLF members together with massive haul of documents, arms and explosives in a stint operation in Singapore. Twenty-three members were released after interrogation, seventeen were detained without trial under the Internal Security Act (Singapore) and ten turned over to the Malaysian police for suspected involvement in terrorist activities in Malaysia. 

Tan Chay Wa

Tan Chay Wa (1948–1983), a political dissident and a senior official of the MNLF, managed to make a timely escape to Malaysia when the ISD officers closed in on him. Chay Wa was a bus driver and a married man living in Singapore. On 2 June 1979, Chay Wa was arrested at a vegetable farm in Johor together with a .32 Llama semi-automatic pistol and seven bullets in his possession. He was duly convicted under Malaysia's ''Essential Security Cases (Amendment) Regulations'' (ESCAR) by Johor Bahru's High Court, which provides for a mandatory death penalty. During his detention, there was an offer by the Government of Belgium to grant him political asylum should he be allowed to leave Malaysia. Despite the discrepancy between the gun he was alleged to have possessed at the time of his arrest and the number presented as evidence at his trial, he was hanged on 18 January 1983 in Kuala Lumpur's Pudu Prison.

His body was brought back to Singapore by his older brother, Tan Chu Boon, a tropical fish breeder. Chu Boon arranged for his brother's body to be buried in Choa Chu Kang Cemetery on 20 January 1983. However, Chu Boon was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Secret Society Investigation Branch at his flat on 28 May 1983 on suspicion that he designed an elaborate but subversive tombstone, which had engraved on it words glorifying the communist cause.

Tan Chay Wa had known Tan Wah Piow since the early 1970s although it was unsure if Tan Wah Piow was also a member of MNLF. In 1982, TWP and the Federation of United Kingdom Eire/Malaysia/Singapore Students Organisations (Fuemsso) launched a campaign to save Tan Chay Wa from the gallows. 
Published July 1987

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