Activists stage rare demonstration against ISA detentions of 1987 in Singapore MRT

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picture credit: Jolovan Wham FB

Social activist Jolovan Wham shared in his Facebook several pictures of a demonstration which happened in an MRT train. The demonstrators were protesting the Internal Security Act detentions of 1987, framed as “Marxist Conspiracy to overthrow the Government” by the authorities. The demonstrators stood blindfolded in the train with signs posted behind them, on the window of the train. They also held up a book titled, ‘1987: Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy 30 Years On‘, and pretended to read.

A netizen who responded to journalist Kirsten Han’s Facebook post of the protest remarked that it looked well planned. Others chided the demonstrators for taking their protest to the MRT trains.

A rare protest on Singapore's MRT today: seeking answers for Operation Spectrum, the so-called Marxist Conspiracy of 1987.(Photo credit: Jolovan Wham's Facebook page)

Posted by Kirsten Han on Saturday, 3 June 2017

Facebook user Soh Yong Bin Matthew said that the purpose of the MRT is “to move people (and) not move people’s mind.”

Other commenters to the journalist’s post suggested that with the terror attacks happening in public spaces in many parts of the world, the most recent being London’s terrorist knife-attacks, it was irresponsible of the demonstrators to alarm the commuting public.

Responding to questions if the authorities will come down on the demonstrators, Ms Han said: “we’ll have to keep an eye on this to see what the authorities do!”

On 21 May 1987, 16 social workers were arrested and accused of waging a “conspiracy” to topple the government. 6 more were arrested for the same reason later. The accused were never charged in open court, neither were they allowed to defend themselves.

The former detainees continue to maintain their innocence, and accuse the government of faking the “conspiracy” for political reasons. The Government on the other hand, continues to maintain that the ex-detainees were subversives, driven by communist ideology.

Public demonstrations are rare in Singapore due to laws that make it illegal to hold cause-related events without a valid licence from the authorities. Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park is the only designated space in Singapore for citizens and permanent residents to hold demonstrations.

26 COMMENTS

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    Cham liao lah. LTA and SMRT are going to ban the reading of books, magazines and newspapers after this. All who wish to read on the trains on any particular day will have to apply to the police for written approval at least 7 days in advance. 🙁

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    Without t ISA ..SG would hv become what UK n other countries face each day of terror attack.This stupid protester were sucking their mum nipple when S’pore face threats frm the communist whom restort to violent in the 70s n 80s.I still can remember the car bomb blast in Tiong bahru..Faber house..Go n find history b4 protesting..not happy go join ISIS.

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      You cannot tell the difference these actons by terrorists and by State on citizens?
      People living under authoritarian govts for too long have no iinkling of what freedom of speech is.
      UK may be under successive terror attacks recently but their people freedom to speak, assemble and demostrate are still very much sacrosant.

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    “Facebook user Soh Yong Bin Matthew said that the purpose of the MRT is “to move people (and) not move people’s mind.””
    It’s not even moving people these days … might as well put it to better use right?

    “Other commenters to the journalist’s post suggested that with the terror attacks happening in public spaces in many parts of the world, the most recent being London’s terrorist knife-attacks, it was irresponsible of the demonstrators to alarm the commuting public.”
    Oh ya right, a bunch of people reading books is as alarming as terrorist attacks. Sinkies are so fragile huh?

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    “it was irresponsible of the demonstrators to alarm the commuting public” Can be alarmed by peaceful demonstration. What would happen of there’s a flash mob singing and dancing? Run for cover? lol

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    Well done! Now the PAP will say that no more than 1 person can read a book of the same title in the train, bur or public! Hahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa……….

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    ISA is useful as long as it protects the country from suspected terrorists and not abused by the G on dissenters. In this current world climate of religious idealogy where a misled group is targeting to achieve a caliphate I would certainly prefer ISA to stay.

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    All those complaining should be happy that Singapore is a very safe place compared to other countries! It is an UNDENIABLE FACT that the ISA has kept Singapore safe from threats of any kind! Would you prefer to live elsewhere where even young children attending a concert can be targets? I DON’T!!!

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    Why u need to hide your face. Is it what u protesting has some lies in it that u dare not let people know or u afraid police can recognize u and charge u for spreading false info. If u telling the truth u no need hide your identity. Stupid action

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    LHL take note, lots of us are GETTING IMPATIENT.
    Keep fooling us to secure ur pay n position will nOT WORK.
    More b joining WP to SPEAK UP. B ready 2b labelled as TRAITOR like NATHAN>!

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    i always have trouble believing how a group of social workers could be marxist conspirators bent on overthrowing the gamen using violence.
    but, i also have trouble when i note that they organise theatre n operate bookshop. and even campigned with jbj’s then political vehicle – wp.
    why would social workers, out to do good (applause) organise themseves along these lines? would it not be more appropraie if they organise halfway houses, children’s charities and other charitable works?
    why were they in theatres? and into social and political activism?

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