Wednesday, July 30, 2008

9:56 PM

ISD talk + GP Paper 1 test

NYJC was very privileged today to have a senior official from the Internal Security Department to take part in a closed forum. Due to the classified nature of the detailed information he released to us, I cannot divulge anything except those that is already common knowledge to the public.

Lets start with a short intro. According to its website, it was spun off from the Ministry of Interior and Defence in 1966. Since then, its primary goal in summary, is to ensure the safety of Singaporeans and to protect the interests of the state.

One thing I dun like about the ISD of both Singapore and in many other countries is that it has the power to arrest people and detain them indefinitely without trial. Granted, the ISD has to go through many layers of bureaucracy before it can take such an action. But the feeling that such decisions are "up to the jurisdiction and discretion" of the state simply makes me uncomfortable.

But I have to agree, given the current climate of fear, some freedoms have to sacrificed (as if Singapore is free enough in the first place!) in the name of security. The debate on where to draw the line is best left for others to do, not here. I just hope Singapore does not go down the road of the US government by instituting the Uniting and Strengthening Singapore by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, which is my satirical version of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Its no guarantee that the ISD or even the ruling party will be clean forever. Is it certain that the ISD will always remain impartial in the years to come? I also wonder if the ISD can come under the purview of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau if the need arises? This and many other questions.

SDP secretary-general Chee Soon Juan was never arrested by the ISD, but he went to jail several times after being tried and convicted under the (very impartial...) court of law. Nevertheless, although one's political affiliation is not supposed (in my view) to affect ISD investigations, I wonder how far is this true.

I first heard of Operation Spectrum from my father some years back. In 1987, 22 people were detained by the ISD on suspicions of a Marxist political conspiracy. That wiki entry has more details including torture allegations. As PW teachers like to tell us, Wikipedia may not always be accurate, so just read it but don't treat it as sacred fact. Further details appear sketchy to me so I won't state anymore facts which I am unsure of. Singapore window has a post about it too. Gopalan Nair which was recently arrested in Singapore for defaming a judge (presiding over Chee Soon Juan's defamation trial) has a list of ISD accusations in his blog.

Another case I heard was when former Jurong MP and Barisan Socialis member Chia Thye Poh was arrested in 1966. Singapore Window stated that he was detained without trial for 22.5 years. Thats the second-longest "political" detainee in the world after Nelson Mandela's 27 years. Notice, I did not state the reasons of his arrest? Because many websites I visited did not pin their speculation to an official/reliable source. Its up to you to interpret the reasons for his arrest.

Ok, its time to end this section. You may shoot me on why I did not question that official when I had the chance. Well, right then, I did not think of all these and was unsure about the accuracy of my knowledge. So I did not want to go up to ask questions which at best, would make a fool of myself, or at worse, end me up in a libel suit. Even more so when the school only informed us about this talk TODAY. If we had time to prepare, MAYBE I would have gone up.

--------------------------------------------------

Took the first part of the GP Common Test 2 today. Seriously, I have never felt so uncertain about my essay before. The topic I wrote on was "Education is no longer about learning, it is about economic survival. How far fo you agree?"

This question was hard enough, but the rest were harder. Its the first time for any essay exam which I have to pause and think after each sentence. Normally, I can keep writing continuously, more worried on whether my writing can catch up with my chain of thoughts.

An overall A for the Common Test 2? I have to pull off another 35 for this which is highly unlikely. The 35 for mid years was written under the question which combined the elements of my strongest knowledge centres. This, nah... would be happy if I got above 25.

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