Calvin Cheng was a former Nominated Member of Parliament. He blogs at www.beyondtheemotive.com. The views expressed are his own.
Every Singaporean should agree with Minister of Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim that it was fortunate that the Communists lost the battle for Singapore in the early days of our state; as it turned out Communism proved to be a fatally flawed political system that eventually collapsed.
The victory of Capitalism over Communism is so utter and so final that it is hard to imagine a communist revolution taking place anywhere in the world today; as a beacon of capitalist success, Singapore is no different. A bourgeois nation such as Singapore is hardly fertile ground for the communist provocateur. It is thus extremely strange that the Government would ban the documentary “To Singapore, With Love” on the grounds of national security concerns.
Comintern, the organisation tasked with spreading communism in the world can now only be found in history books; young Singaporeans are unlikely to have even heard of it. The Communist Party of Malaya, an armed revolutionary group was no doubt guilty of many deaths in its decades-long insurrection – but with its surrender to the Malaysian government in the 1980's, they are also a relic of history.
Many of the exiles from the 60s are also octogenarians in the twilight of their lives; unlike the detainees of Operation Spectrum of the '80s, they have little or no hope of making a comeback.
The government’s argument, however, is that some interviewees distorted the truth by denying they were ever communists.
I fail to see how this matters. Even if they were not communists, there is no doubt that most were left-leaning activists whose vision for post-colonial Singapore was at least a socialist one; however, no post-colonial country which adopted left-leaning, socialist policies has prospered. Each of the four "Asian tigers” — Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea — developed first-world states by embracing capitalist, market-economies. Socialism, on the other hand, proved to be a bankrupt ideology for poor, new nations that had nothing to re-distribute.
Whether they were communist revolutionaries or socialist radicals, everything they have stood for has been proven wrong by the passage of time.
Throughout history, at the birth of every nation, there is always a struggle between competing ideologies. Often, blood is shed. In Singapore's case, the losers were exiled and the victors, the PAP government, cemented their victory with 50 years of prosperity, taking its people from Third world to First.
The triumph of its vision versus those of the exiles could not be any more absolute.
The Singapore government should be secure enough for the stories of those it long-ago vanquished to be told. Almost 50, Singapore is no longer a new nation and understanding what-could-have-been, if things turned out differently half a century ago, may well help a new generation of Singaporeans better appreciate just how far we have come.