Socialism, Fear, and the Singapore Angle

I noticed, the newspapers keep calling people like Dr Poh Soo Kai and the others detained under the infamous Operation Coldstore, as 'socialists of their time' as though socialism is a bad thing. A quote from the recent Straits Times article, writes "Dr Poh admits he is a socialist, even a Marxist, but denies being a communist, that is, being a card-carrying member of the Malayan Communist Party." (As I do not have access to the ST Digital Archive, here's a repost of the article on The Temasek Review)

Remember folks, socialism is not the same as communism and is a respected form of political idealogy practiced by many European and North American nations like France, Germany and Canada for example. I think the biggest irony of all is that the newspapers try to subtly demonize 'socialism', when its political masters, the People's Action Party is by-and-large a socialist party. The name of the party itself reveals its socialist roots.

So what went wrong? What happened to PAP or did the newspapers suffer some kind of amnesia? Why the attempt to demonize and create fear over 'socialism'? Is it because the recent public attention to books like the 'Fajar Generation' which brings 'Operation Coldstore' to the public eye for scrutiny? Is it because the whole reason these men were detained for over decades is because of their alleged communist ties, which could never be proven, but still detained anyway?

In the United States, Conservative Republicans are constantly using 'socialism' as an tool and reason to demonize President Obama's policies. Is the same thing happening in our very own local newspapers?

At the end of the day, fear does nothing to the political process. It destroys ideas and kills the spirit. Fear, is the product of old politics. After 4 decades of being constantly told to be afraid of, racial disharmony, riots, the destruction of Singapore's economic livelihood, isn't it time to stop being afraid?

I'll leave you with a famous quote by our very own Minister Mentor:

"Repression, Sir is a habit that grows. I am told it is like making love-it is always easier the second time! The first time there may be pangs of conscience, a sense of guilt. But once embarked on this course with constant repetition you get more and more brazen in the attack. All you have to do is to dissolve organizations and societies and banish and detain the key political workers in these societies. Then miraculously everything is tranquil on the surface. Then an intimidated press and the government-controlled radio together can regularly sing your praises, and slowly and steadily the people are made to forget the evil things that have already been done, or if these things are referred to again they're conveniently distorted and distorted with impunity, because there will be no opposition to contradict."

- Lee Kuan Yew as an opposition PAP member speaking to David Marshall, Singapore Legislative Assembly, Debates, 4 October, 1956