List of Detainees, Singapore

According to Mr. Teo Chee Hean, a total of 2,460 arrests were made from 1959 to 1990, of which 1,045 persons were detained under the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance (1959-1963) and Internal Security Act (1963-1990).

Mr. Teo also added that “many of these individuals and their families have put the past behind them and carried on with their lives over the past several decades.”

Screenshot of Webpage (20 March 2015):


Link: Ministry of Home Affairs

Table 14.1 (page 432) of The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore contains a list of 1,190 names of political detainees in Singapore from 1950-2013.

Edited by Poh Soo Kai, Tan Kok Fang and Hong Lysa; 2013

I have added some pictures of the list here — for the full list, do check out the book (and some other links at the bottom of this post). You can also download a PDF with the list (PDF: List of Political Detainees in Singapore, 1950 – 2013).

Political Detainees in Singapore, 1950-2013 (Numbers 1 to 48); from “The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore (pub. 2013)”
Political Detainees in Singapore, 1950-2013 (Numbers 1181 to 1190); from “The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore (pub. 2013)”

On Page 489 of the book, historian Hong Lysa writes:

“We would thus want to emphasise a simple fact: the government has a duty to make public the names of the political detainees and information about their detention. The people have a right to know!” (– Hong Lysa)

Contrary to Mr. Teo’s statements in the second paragraph, Dr. Poh Soo Kai (Assistant Secretary-General of Barisan Sosialis; imprisoned twice under the ISA for a total of 17 years by Singapore’s PAP government; called LKY a “political pimp” in 1963) said in 2014:

“I have rebutted the High Commissioner’s first response of 18 December 2014. With reference to his second response of 22 January 2015, it would be flogging a dead horse no less for me to reply to his attempt at a ‘holistic’ reading of the archives. Quite clearly he is happy to display his understanding of how he uses historical documents and makes sense (or non-sense) of them.

The High Commissioner would do well to monitor debates in Singapore. Neutral third parties have emerged, with no stakes in the 1963 events except for the truth. Recent articles carried in “The Online Citizen” and “TR Emeritus” continuing series (now 7 parts) have effectively demolished each and every piece of his so-called documentary evidence by simply going through the sources he cited, and showing what they actually said.

I have every confidence that the aspiration for decency and humanity in ordinary Singaporeans will prevail and we will build a society based on solidarity and respect for human rights and democracy. It has been too long overdue!”
(– Dr. Poh Soo Kai)

A Yale-NUS student had this to say in Feb 2015:


[Full article at TR Emeritus]

“The rule of law in Singapore is a mockery, because the ISA, despite all the checks and balances, still allows for the detention of political opponents and social activists without an open trial. . .

[Ho Kwon Ping] does not speak for my generation today.

We will continue to speak out bravely against injustice and the ISA. We won’t forget the sacrifices of leaders and activists in the past. Most importantly, we won’t back down without a fight. Even Malaysia has recently abolished its own ISA. We will work for the day when Singapore abolishes this outdated and brutal piece of colonial history.”
(– Denny, Yale-NUS student)

During an event back in 2012, where over 400 people gathered to mark the 25th anniversary of ISA arrests in 1987-1988:


“People in Singapore are getting concerned [about] a lot of issues that matter to them, and are willing to stand and speak up for these issues…I think we will have a better civil society who will engage the government on issues that will matter to them.”
(– MARUAH president Braema Mathi)

“The turnout is beyond my expectations. I think the young people are the most important in the crowd. The younger ones may not know (about what happened).”
(– Teo Soh Lung, one of the 24 who had been detained)

A modest collection of links is listed below for more information on these (dark) chapters in Singapore’s political history.

Thanks to TR Emeritus reader, Mr. Chong Wen Wah, and TR Emeritus readers’ comments on a TRE post about Ms. Loh Meow Gong, which prompted me to compile some of the info here.

* * *

More Information:

1. Buy the Book: Operation Coldstore (Select Books | Kinokuniya | MPH)
2. Editors of the book (Dr. Poh Soo Kai | Tan Kok Fang | Dr. Hong Lysa)
3. Operation Coldstore (Wikipedia)
4. Operation Coldstore (Singapore Rebel)
5. S/pores (Community of Singapore ‘Home Scholars’)
6. “Which amounts to 80 arrests/year and 35 detentions/year, over a span of 30 years.” (TOC)
7. Function 8
8. That We May Dream Again
10. Reluctance to open official records discredits government’s rebuttal on ISA detainees
11. Detention without trial: Going beyond Coldstore? (Dr. Poh at TOC)
12. Conversation on FB post on political detainees (TR Emeritus)
13. PDF List of Political Detainees (PDF List: 950 – 2013)


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