Book reveals Lee Kuan Yew’s account of communist insurgency in Singapore

Visitors look at an exhibit of documents which are reproduced in the reprint of "The Battle For Merger", in an exhibition summarising the content of the 12 radio talks given by former PM Lee Kuan Yew. (Yahoo photo)

A new book launched on Thursday compiles the account of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of the communist insurgency in Singapore leading up to 1961, with some 12 radio broadcasts made available online to the public.

The book, The Battle For Merger, was initially published in 1962, a year after the broadcasts were made, and it was a compilation of the full and unedited transcripts of Lee’s radio speeches. These were read out by him in English, Mandarin and Malay over the period of under a month, starting from 2 October 1961, after the People’s Action Party experienced a dramatic split.

The new reprinted edition launched Thursday contains reproductions of additional material evidence in support of Lee’s accounts, including numerous photographs and documents of letters sent by suspected pro-communist detainees.

Yahoo Singapore understands that the idea for the reproduction of the book was seeded by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean between October and November last year, who was present at the book’s launch on Thursday at the National Library. This set in motion the production of the book, as well as an accompanying exhibition featuring snapshots of the 12 radio talks that will move between libraries over the coming months.

In a speech at the launch, DPM Teo said subsequent writing from top-ranking leaders of the Communist Party of Malaysia like Chin Peng and Fong Chong Pik provided evidence in support of Lee’s argument that “there was a communist conspiracy to take power being played out over the merger issue, which he felt compelled to expose in his broadcasts”.

DPM Teo said that the book is also intended to counter alternative historical accounts that postulated the scenario of the struggle being more of a peaceful and democratic disagreement over the type of merger Singapore should participate in.

“I hope it will awaken interest in younger Singaporeans in the events of this crucial period in our history, educate them into what actually happened, what the battle was about, and why it was so crucial that the right side won,” he said.