The ballad of Chia Thye Poh

Dr Kua Kia Soong and renowned song composer Chow Kam Leong present “The Ballad of Chia Thye Poh” at the 2011 Lim Lian Geok Spirit Award Giving ceremony at KL Confucian School on 18 Dec 2011.

By Kua Kia Soong

(Adapted by Kua Kia Soong from The H-Block Song, Dec 18, 2011)

“I am a proud yet simple man
In the lion city my life began
A caring teacher I became
In search of truth and peace –
And when my age was tender still
My country’s wrongs my mind did fill
By tens of thousands patriots’ trills
And my questions would not cease …
Chorus: Don’t shed no tears for my plight
I’ll boldly serve my time
Let Harry brand our noble fight
Thirty two years of crime…

“I learned of many years of strife
Of cruel laws, injustice rife
I saw in Vietnam how they ruled
The same colonial way –
Protestors beaten, tortured, maimed
Divisions nurtured, passions flamed
Outraged, provoked, rights, cause defamed
This is the conqueror’s way…

“They locked me up in sixty six
On trumped up charges hard to stick
They tried to force me to confess
To all their made-up lies –
I stand for human dignity
For freedom, just democracy
I know that through those years deprived
My spirit will touch lives…”

Chia Thye Poh, 70, the longest-serving political prisoner in Asian history, was awarded the Lim Lian Geok (LLG) Spirit Award on Dec 18, 2011 by the LLG  Cultural Development Centre. The former Singapore Member of Parliament was detained for 32 years from 1966 to 1998 by Lee Kuan Yew’s government, a much longer term compared to Nelson Mandela’s 28 years of detention. The citation for the award read:

“… for upholding his belief in democracy, without compromising and never losing faith throughout the 32 years of unjust detention without trial.”

In 1963, many activists in Singapore were arrested and detained.  Chia selflessly stood in for a detained candidate in the general elections and was elected Member of Parliament on a Socialist Front ticket. He was thus also a Malaysian member of parliament from 1963 to 1965 when Singapore was part of Malaysia.

A defender of the freedom of expression and justice, he was banned from entering Malaysia after he had delivered a speech at the Perak division of the Labour Party of Malaysia on April 24, 1966.

He was arrested under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) by the Singapore Government on Oct 29, 1966 which allows for indefinite detention without trial.  In May 1989, he was placed under house arrest in the island of Sentosa for nine more years.

After 32 years of incarceration, he was finally granted unconditional freedom on 27 November 1998.  Immediately after his restriction order was lifted, Chia issued a statement condemning the ISA.  Soon after, he went to Netherlands and completed his Master’s and PhD degrees at the Institute of Social Studies at The Hague.

Established in 1988, the Lim Lian Geok Spirit Award is the highest honour in the Malaysian Chinese community bestowed on those who live up to the spirit of Lim Lian Geok, the civil rights leader of Dong Jiao Zong in the fifties and sixties.

His citizenship was revoked by the Alliance government in 1961 because of his opposition to the 1960 Rahman Talib Report that aimed to convert the Chinese secondary schools to national schools. Since his passing in 1985, Lim Lian Geok has been beatified as the “Soul of the Malaysian Chinese”.

Source : Free Malaysia Today (Photo added by webmaster)

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