Sunday, 23 November 2014

Ho Juan Thai: What the Hansard said

A PAP MP Sam Tan has decided to counter the claims made by self-exiled Singapore opposition politician Ho Juan Thai. 

Read it here and here.

While many know of HJT's version of events and feels that he was unfairly treated by the Singapore government, not many know of how he escape Singapore and landed up in London. These details are actually available in the Hansard of Parliamentary reports. Kudos to WP's JBJ for always asking the tough questions in Singapore.

It is noteworthy to remember that besides being accused of making election speeches that incited racial disharmony (HJT accused the government of murdering the Chinese language), HJT was also wanted for suspected links with A communist terrorist. HJT was said to be linked with Tan Chay Wa, who was eventually sentenced to death in Malaysia for possession of firarms. HJT had hid in the house of Tan to escape arrest and HJT (together with Tan Wah Piow) would later campaign for Tan's case when the latter was facing the gallows. 

Dec 1982 Hansard link here

Minister for Home Affairs Chua Sian Chin: He (Ho Juan Thai) was out to incite the Chinese-speaking population and to stir up communal and chauvinistic emotions.

Mr Ho knew the well-established and clearly stated policy of the government that action would be taken against those who exploit sensitive issues of race, language and religion that would pose a security threat in our multi-racial society. He also knew from the 1972 and 1968 elections that such action would be taken by the government after the elections. Thus on Polling Night, on his own initiative he immediately went into hiding.

On Polling Night, 23 December 1976 when the police went to find him at Block 48A, 123X Dorset Road, Singapore 8, the address he had registered as his place of residence, they could not find him there. The police then looked for him at several other places he frequented including No 64D Nanyang Avenue. But he had managed to flee. The police wanted Mr Ho to answer questions relating to the speeches he had made, and to determine whether he was acting alone or in concert with more dangerous and violent men.

In Mr Ho's letter which was published in the Straits Times on 14 October 1982, he said that he had championed the cause of Mr Tan Chay Wa, a communist terrorist tried and convicted for possession of a firearm and seven rounds of ammunition by the Malaysian courts, in his appeal for reprieve against the death sentence. Mr Tan was a district committee member of the underground Malayan National Liberation Front, a satellite organisation of the Communist Party of Malaya. This is an indication of Mr Ho's political sympathies and possibly, also his affiliations.

No 64D Nanyang Avenue was one of Mr Ho's hideouts. It was next to No 58D Nanyang Avenue which was the official address of Mr Tan Chay Wa. Mr Tan was then wanted for arrest for involvement in Malayan National Liberation Front activities. The police subsequently ascertained that Mr Ho frequently went to Mr Tan's house. When he escaped from the police who went to look for him, he sought refuge in Mr Tan's house for two days. He subsequently telephoned a member of Mr Tan's family through a pre-arranged code to indicate that he had escaped safely.

Mar 1982 Hansard link here

Minister of Home Affairs Chua Sian Chin: The Member (JBJ) for Anson has now produced a statement by Mr Tan Chay Wa which Mr Tan gave on 16th January 1983 before his execution. The Member for Anson had not, however, disclosed how he came into possession of this new statement of Mr Tan Chay Wa. In the statement, Mr Tan claimed that Mr Ho did not have 'the slightest organisational relationship' with him and that he "absolutely did not know Ho Juan Thai and had never seen him".

On the contrary we have evidence that casts very grave doubts on Mr Tan Chay Wa's claim. The Malaysian authorities had informed us in 1979 that when Mr Tan was arrested by the Malaysian Special Branch, he gave the following statement on Mr Ho Juan Thai and I quote:

'Since 1976, a Nanyang University graduate named Ho Juan Thai stayed at Nanyang Avenue area in Singapore. He stayed near our house and used to borrow telephone.

In 1977 (sic), Ho Juan Thai stood in general election on a Workers' Party ticket. As he gave a prejudicial speech during public rally, the police came to arrest him at his rented place. Ho escaped and hid in bush, and was wet because of heavy rain. Subsequently, he sought refuge in our house for two days. Before departed our house he mentioned that he was going to look for his friend (details not known) in West Malaysia. If he was not arrested he would telephone by hitting at the telephone 3 times which meant he had safely escaped police arrest. Later, Ho Juan Thai did make such call.'

Why should Mr Tan Chay Wa discuss Mr Ho Juan Thai at all in his statement to the Malaysian Special Branch if he did not know Ho as he claimed? From his statement Mr Tan Chay Wa clearly had intimate knowledge of Mr Ho Juan Thai, how he had avoided police arrest, was harboured in his house for two days and escaped safely to West Malaysia.

Mr Tan Chay Wa was an important cadre of the CPM underground organization. He remained steadfast to his communist ideology even up to his execution. It was therefore natural for Mr Tan, a communist, to do a good turn for Mr Ho Juan Thai by disclaiming any underground organizational links with him. Mr Tan had good reasons to do this out of gratitude to Mr Ho who had, through FUEMSSO, tried very hard to save him from the gallows. It also made good sense to him to use his last breath to protect and defend Mr Ho his ardent supporter. By doing this, he would also be advancing his communist cause. According to the communist ideology, it is justifiable for any of its followers to use any means including telling a lie and even committing murder to advance the communist cause. A staunch communist terrorist does not believe in afterlife but only in the existence of this world.


Feb 1999 Hansard link here

The Minister of State for Home Affairs (Assoc. Prof. Ho Peng Kee) (for the Minister for Home Affairs): Mr Jeyaretnam is fully aware of the reasons why Singapore Immigration and Registration (SIR) has not issued Mr Ho Juan Thai a passport. Mr Jeyaretnam had been closely associated with Mr Ho, a member of the Workers' Party, and had acted as Mr Ho's counsel previously.

SIR has not issued Mr Ho a Singapore passport for the following reasons:

a) Mr Ho is required to respond to SIR's queries over the renewal endorsement in his expired Singapore passport. Mr Ho had publicly declared that he amended the expiry date of his passport, which expired in December 1976, to enter the UK in July 1977. If this is true, this may constitute an offence of forgery.

b) Mr Ho has been an Exit Permit defaulter since August 1986. He is therefore required to answer for his Exit Permit offence upon his return to Singapore.

c) Although no warrant of arrest has been issued against Mr Ho, the authorities would like to interview him over his racially inflammatory speeches at election rallies during the December 1976 General Election in which he ran as the Workers' Party election candidate in Bukit Panjang.

Mr Jeyaretnam, acting as counsel for Mr Ho, was informed in 1986 why Mr Ho could not be issued a passport. Mr Ho himself was informed of the reasons in writing by the Singapore High Commissioner in London and MINDEF in 1992, when he applied for a new Singapore passport. The High Commissioner has also told Mr Ho that SIR is ready to issue him with a one-way Document of Identity to facilitate his return to Singapore if he so wishes.