include("cmp.php");

The history of Special Branch and the Emergency

My name is Yoong Siew Wah and I was a former director of ISD (Internal Security Department), the name adopted after Singapore became independent to replace Special Branch to divest the department from its colonial connotation. The Malayan Secret Service had no executive power and was replaced by Special Branch with executive power when the Emergency Regulation was declared in June 1948 following the armed struggle started by the Malayan Communist Party to capture power from the British. Malaya included Singapore in the rebellion by the MCP but the Communists could only carry out urban warfare in Singapore because there was no jungle.

Mr Yoong Siew Wah

The situation was extremely turbulent but as they operated underground it really overstretched the security authorities to capture them.They overawed the public with their assassination of so-called traitors and reactionaries including Special Branch officers and the proliferation of arson of buses of the British-owned Singapore Traction Company. The Chinese bus company targeted by them was he Tay Koh Yat Bus Company owned by a prominent KMT figure Tay Koh Yat.

Tay Koh Yat although a septuagenarian was a sprightly courageous toughie who laid in ambush one night to surprise communist arsonists who torched his buses. Sure enough the young communist arsonists unsuspectingly turned up to torch one of his buses. Tay Koh Yat, alone and unarmed, promptly pounced on them and pursued them when they fled, but as it was age versus youth he failed to apprehend any of them. He was praised by the press and sympathetic members of the public, especially the Chinese community. But what really honored him was the personal praise of the British Governor.

Fellow Special Branch officers were in the front line fighting the communists. We were extremely vulnerable as we were prime targets for assassination by their killer squad. We were in the open and they were in the dark and they knew our routine in leaving our homes for the office. However it was fortunate that no Special Branch officer had been assassinated but some CID detectives who were regarded as notorious and corrupt were bumped off by the communist assassins without knowing who or what hit them. The communist killer squad had still not been captured on the Special Branch radar and it was so demoralising and quite challenging to ferret them out and demolish them as they were too elusive. When I was Special Branch duty officer for the first time a pineapple tycoon Lim Teck Kin was assassinated by the communist killer squad. He owned a pineapple factory in Johore and the communist targeted him because he was seen as an oppressor of his workers. So when he left his house in East Coast Road in the morning in his car driven by his Malay driver had to stop at the entrance to see that the road was clear two communist assassins suddenly appeared in front of his car and bumped two bullets into him and he simply perished.The Malay driver was so deeply shocked that he could not remember how the two assassins looked like.

As luck would have it fate too a hand in terminating the murderous career of the head of the communist killer squad known as Tit Fung (the iron spearhead). A police radio patrol commanded by a police lieutenant was making a routine check in Albert Street in June 1952 and came upon three Chinese at a coffee stall. They checked the three Chinese and the Malay corporal was searching one of them when the suspect suddenly decamped and fled along Albert Street. The police lieutenant and the corporal gave chase but the suspect had already fled quite a distance. An Englishman was driving along Albert Street and saw the fleeing suspect and the police officers pursuing behind. Out of civic-mindedness the Englishman drove his car and knocked down the suspect which enable the police to arrest him. Communist documents which were in the form of messages were found on him. He was taken to the Beach Road Police Station and the Special Branch was promptly notified. It so happened that a deputy of Tit Fung was on his way to surrender to Special Branch when he was arrested. He was targeted for assassination by Tit Fung for suspected party betrayal and he immediately identified the suspect as Tit Fung the head of the communist killer squad. This turned out to be a significant capture of a leading communist killer and was a great credit to the police officers who made the capture and the highly commendable public-spirited Englishman who made it possible for the police to arrest the notorious communist.

Tit Fung, whose real name was Wong Fook Kwang, was the mastermind of all the assassinations of police officers and so-called traitors and reactionaries by the communist killer squad the he commanded. Therefore he had to be rigorously interrogated but fate was on his side when the doctor certified that he was seriously ill with tuberculosis and may not stand up to rigorous interrogation. He was sent to the lock-up ward of the General Hospital in Outram Prison. The Special Branch slipped up badly by not forbidding a woman claiming to be Tit Fung’s mother from visiting him. The Malay police guard at the lock-up ward could not be expected to be vigilant enough to spot any messages passed on by the mother to Tit Fung. So on the night of 4th March 1953 when it was raining heavily Tit Fung was rescued by two of his subordinates who cut the wire netting and one of the iron bars of the lock-up ward and thus enabled him to escape. It was a heavy blow to the Special Branch but quite amazingly there was no witch-hunt to find a scapegoat to take the blame.

DSP John Fairbairn was the officer in overall charge and it became his crusade to hunt down Tit Fung. He enlisted all the resources required for his mission including RAF reconnaissance when he finally received reliable information where Tit Fung was hiding. It was in a secondary forest in Pasir Laba in Jurong. So a massive operation was mounted at midnight on 9th July 1954 with the deployment of three hundred policemen surrounding the area and sweeping inwards. I was with British ASP Bob Phillip leading a party and we stumbled upon Tit Fung who was huddled together with his mistress in a lean-to shelter behind some undergrowth. He had a considerable amount of communist documents and drugs to keep him alive. He was captured with his mistress and brought to Special Branch, He was subjected to a series of criminal prosecutions but nothing to connect him with the assassinations. As it was undesirable to keep him in solitary confinement for any length of time he was eventually banished to China.

The MCP armed struggle dis not go well for them. They suffered heavy casualties at the hands of British and Allied soldiers. In October 1951 chin Peng, MCP secretary-general convened a central committee meeting to discuss solution to their battle losses. They decided to open up a second front to complement their armed struggle. This was indeed a watershed decision as later events could show. They issued an edict which was proclaimed as “October Resolution” to all their divisions and branches all over Malaya and Singapore. In Singapore it was 1953/54 that the directive prominently manifested overnight in the proliferation of hundreds of pro-communist trade unions and organisations like the Brass Gong Society, the Singapore Women Federation, Chinese Middle School OBAs and others. Although it did not take Special Branch by surprise it was nevertheless a ommunist crusade of such a magnitude that it was extremely overawing. But Special Branch was unfazed as we had veteran top-notch security specialists like Alan Blades, Richard Corridon and Ahmad Khan and they were strongly backed by well-trained officers and inspectors. Out of this massive evolution of the Communist United Front out of nowhere emerged mystically a dynamic leader in the person of Lim Chin Siong. It was obvious that he could not be the undisputed leader of the CUF without the imprimatur of the MCP leader Chin Peng. That he became a major security threat to Singapore could only be gauged from his domination of the Chinese mass base with his charisma and prowess in directing and organising the CUF.

A promising Cambridge-trained lawyer Lee Kuan Yew with highly ambitious political ambition but handicapped with the lack of a mass base latched on to Lim Chin Siong to provide him the mass base. But Lim Chin Siong was a sharp operator and not easily taken in by flattery and guile and Lee Kuan Yew soon found to his horror that Lim Chin Siong was indeed his insurmountable adversary. Both were trying to make use of one another. Lee Kuan Yew for communist support to capture power and Lim Chin Siong for providing a democratic cover for the communists to pursue their subversive activities to capture power. Lee Kuan Yew and his gallant political comrades could never be able to match Lim Chin Siong in any contest for power and would only end up in the wilderness. It would not be unimaginable that God played the part of a Divine Samaritan to rebound them back from the precipice.

Special Branch with the imprimatur from Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock came to the rescue. Special Branch was able to take preemptive action by incarcerating Lim Chin Siong and all his leading activists so that Lee Kuan Yew and his PAP cronies escaped from being devoured by the communists. Dr. Toh Chin Chye and Dr, Goh Keng Swee promptly acknowledged that Lim Yew Hock had done them a great favor. It was obvious that this would pave the way for Lee Kuan Yew to make a landslide victory for the PAP in the 1959 general election and propelled him to become the prime minister of Singapore thus fulfilling his ambition.

As expected there could not be without some witch-hunting by the over triumphant Lee Kuan Yew and his PAP cronies in flexing their muscle. Even Special Branch could not escape his scrutiny. And of course the docile civil servants were made an example of by having their salries docked quite hurtfully. Civil servants took the punishment in their stride as willy nilly they had to accept the PAP as their political masters. Lee Kuan Yew and his cronies realised that badgering the civil servants would not be in their interest in the long run and things gradually returned to be more humanitarian.

Lee Kuan Yew told a group of leading world newspapermen that this was like a James Bond movie. American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tried to recruit me as their intelligence agent in1961. I played along in a ambivalent role and at the right moment a Special Branch task force which was lying in wait swooped on the CIA officers who were just finishing a final round of discussion on the mutual authenticity of intention in a safe house.The three CIA recruiting officers were arrested. A CIA officer working under cover of an Embassy First Secretary was declared a persona-non-grata and returned to the US. A polygraph was seized after a car chase. The high precision of the operation carried out by the Special Branch task force simply overawed the arrested CIA officers.

The earth-shattering effect of this operation reverberated up to the White House and rattled the American President John Kennedy and his coterie of ministers. Lee Kuan Yew took the opportunity to raise his world political standing to such a dizzying height that it overawed President Kennedy. There was a demand for USD thirty million as some kind of compensation but President Kennedy offered USD one million which Lee Kuan Yew considered an insult and did not accept. The three CIA officers were detained for a short period and released after Lord Selkirk, the British High Commissioner pleaded with Lee Kuan Yew on behalf of the American government.

Lim Chin Siong and his leading CUF activists like James Puthucheary and Fong Swee Suan were released when Lee Kuan Yew’s PAP assumed power after a landslide victory in the 1959 general election. Lee Kuan Yew appointed Lim Chin Siong and Fong Swee Suan as political secretaries to constrain and keep an eye on them. As political secretaries they cannot get themselves involved in CUF activities. Lee Kuan Yew could not be so naive as to expect that they could be constrained for any lengthy period. With their ingenuity they were soon back to their former subversive leadership role in the CUF. This was something that Lim Chin Siong would be an invincible factor in the CUF which could lead to his Waterloo. This was not idle thinking of the potentiality of the invincibility of the CUF under the dynamic leadership of Lim Chin Siong to capture power eventually could not be averted. Lee Kuan Yew could only pray for God’s help notwithstanding whether he was a believer. And sure enough his prayer had been answered in the person of George Bogaars as his Director of Special Branch. Although without security background he proved to be the most outstanding director that Special Branch had produced. He had in a very short time as the savior saint of Lee Kuan Yew carried out a complete modification of the CUF and enabled Lee Kuan Yew and his merry ministers to sleep peacefully without any communist phobia.Lee Kuan Yew relied heavily on George Bogaars for his survival and existence from the communists as well as the Malay ultras during Malaysia.

Lord Selkirk, the British High Commissioner, was a genial and affable personality who was not unfriendly to Lim Chin Siong, James Puthucheary and heir leading activists. James Puthucheary was able to enchant Lord Selkirk to invite them to a tea party in the High Commission where James Puthucheary with his gap of the mouth managed to elicit a not indistinct assurance that the British would not be unamenable to the pro-communists capturing power in Singapore. This was like a fortune from the sky to the CUF leaders. They now have the British assurance from Lord Selkirk to go for broke to capture much to the horror of Lee Kuan Yew.

Lord Selkirk was something of a maverick and would stand for his principle against anyone. This was so painfully clear to Lee Kuan Yew especially in the Internal Security Council (ISC) meeting to decide on whether to give approval to the execution of “Operation Coldstore”. It was a brain- child of Lee Kuan Yew to cripple the CUF and he could only carry it out with the approval of the Internal Security Council. There was hard bargaining in the council with Lord Selkirk taking a firm stand of what he described as his minimalist stand. This meant the Lee Kuan Yew must produce evidence to show that the pro-communists were resorting to violence to capture power. Because the pro-communists had adopted a hands-off to violence after the 1956 riots which resulted in the incarceration of Lim Chin Siong and all the CUF leaders there could not be any evidence of impending violence by the CUF. Lee Kuan Yew was in a dilemma and depended entirely on the goodwill of Tungku Abdul Rahman to persuade Lord Selkirk to consent. After what seemed an eternity Tungku Abdul Rahman with all his rhetorical argument was able to convince Lord Selkirk to agree and the decision was passed at the ISC to give approval to “Operation Coldstore”.

Operation Coldstore executed on 2nd February 1963 completely wiped out the upper echelon of the CUF including Lim Chin Siong, James Puthucheary and Fong Swee Suan. Dr. Lee Siew Choh was spared to expose him as a caricature of a puppet exploited by the CUF to divert government recrimination.It took Lee all the ingenuity of Lee Kuan Yew to get the approval and put into action Operation Coldstore as a panacea for his continued political rule in Singapore without any further impediment from the CUF. His inhuman treatment of political opponents like Chia Thye oh and Dr. Lim Hock Siew could evoke a big question mark in the mind of the Singapore public and maybe some of the world leaders. Historians could not reconcile with their conscience to write an obituary after Lee Kuan Yew’s demise.

His impetuous adventure to prevail the PAP style of democracy in Malaysia had cused such a great uproar and horror to Tungku Abdul Rahman and his Malay Cabinet not to mention the Malay ultras that they finally decided to cut out Singapore from Malaysia. It was such a monument disaster to Lee Kan Yew’s dream to spread his domination to Malaysia. But the break-up was a blessing to the Chinese community, especially the Chinese businessmen, who felt that they had been living under oppression under the Malaysian Administration.

So Singapore became an independent country in August 1965 which should be a time for jubilation. But the economic situation had never been more gloomier. There was no common market and we were entirely at the mercy of any invaders as we had practically little or no defence. And above all we needed to have more foreign investments to survive. But we were fortunate to have top civil servants, Sim Kee Boon, JYV Pillay and others who performed titanic service to turn the fortune round. We had consummate help from the Israelis to build our  our army from scratch to what it is today. And Singapore became gradually prosperous to become the first class nation today. Could there have been some Divine benevolence?

Lee kuan Yew relinquished his premiership to wooden Goh Chok Tong who to all appearances was a seat-warmer. But to his credit he dis quite a good job in enhancing the prosperity and standing of \Singapore. Lee Hsien Loong as the anointed heir of Lee Kuan Yew to succeed Goh Chok Tong as prime minister in Still in command of Singapore Administration. He tries to emulate his inimitable father Lee Kuan Yew but he needs to show more kindness and compassion and less avariciousness. I do not want to mention my case of grave injustice to avoid lessening his public standing.

 

Yoong Siew Wah

 

* The author was the Director of Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) from 1971 to 1974. He was Director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in the 1960s, and had a distinguished career in the Singapore Special Branch in the 1950s. Mr Yoong has granted TR Emeritus exclusive right to his memoir, to be published on an independent website (work in progress), upon his passing. All the above historic information and more details will be revealed in his memoir.

 

 

 

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

9 Responses to “The history of Special Branch and the Emergency”

  • I_am_not_mike:

    What are you trying to prove? That lky firing you is wrong? Wake up. Although lky is a bad human, he did right by firing you. Stop your post humous self justifications. You are a snake, no different from lky.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Interesting:

    Interesting history.
    Good for our young to know…

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • inoowatosay:

    If Tit Fung was the murderer of CUF’s traitors and reactionaries and many police officers, he should be hang. Why was he sent back to China?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • xoxo:

    Frankly,the power play between LKY and LCS was normal for people struggling to gain power.
    We will never know if LKY and his men would be persecuted shud LCS be the victor.
    Even the americunts *fought* each other in a long-drawn Civil War; so did Kuomintang and the Chinese Communists.

    What is important is after gaining power and control,what these leaders do for the people at large and for Country.
    To be fair,1G leaders had done a good job.
    GCT has had the benefit of smooth-sailing by making good use of our human capital then BUT the greatest DISSERVICE was to corporati$e Sg into $in Inc .
    Greed grew within the G leaders and making money becomes THE MAIN CONCERN rather than the welfare of the COMMON PEOPLE.

    CHINA’S XJP sees the same *greed* emerging in China among the elite$ and is trying to correct it via his COMMON PROPERITY policy.

    This is the difference between good leaders and mediocre$.
    1G were good leaders despite and inspite the sufferings that seem unfair and somewhat extreme that our forebears like LCS et al were made to bear.

    Sg needs to be for Sgs again.
    Not that we do not welcome genuine FTs but sgs interests MUST COME FIRST.
    Who can argue not?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • knnn:

    Pinky wants to be bigger than his dad, just like Xi wanting to surpass Mao. So there is a lot of marketing and promotional video about Pinky’s achievements and philosophy on Tiktok to market himself as a global statesman revered.

    Pinky metrics is only economy GDP, he believes GDP is the key indicator of his leadership and success. This is why day in and out, the only focus is growing economy. Unlike his papa, his leadership was largely on meritocracy, he was quick to fire anyone who did not achieve his standards. So when papa was around, rarely anything fails. But his papa wanted to ensure his son has full control of Singapore, removed all the capable leaders as they were threat and instead install army of paper generals and dogs. This is why there is no debate in parliament, it has become a rubber stamp, dogs say yes to everything that Pinky proposed, no one dared to challenge.

    Pinky largely under thumb of Empress Dowager, many plans were hatched behind the iron curtains. Many stats had disappeared and things had become non transparent due to the massive losses and also policies destroying this island.

    Unlike papa, who commanded global respect and respect even from oppositions, he just another clown who inherited from his papa special arrangement.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Temusik Patriot:

    Bro in Christ,good insight about our past
    A bastard like lky is truly a swine n backstabber worshipped by idiots

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Temusik Patriot:

    Had wooden Goh as PM dig in his heels instead of BEING BEHOLDEN I couuld have had R
    ESPECTED HIM but NO!!!..he left his marbles @Pasir Panjang night soil carrying Home
    HOME

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • only stupid people vote pap:

    knnn:
    Pinky wants to be bigger than his dad, just like Xi wanting to surpass Mao. So there is a lot of marketing and promotional video about Pinky’s achievements and philosophy on Tiktok to market himself as a global statesman revered.

    Pinky metrics is only economy GDP, he believes GDP is the key indicator of his leadership and success. This is why day in and out, the only focus is growing economy. Unlike his papa, his leadership was largely on meritocracy, he was quick to fire anyone who did not achieve his standards. So when papa was around, rarely anything fails. But his papa wanted to ensure his son has full control of Singapore, removed all the capable leaders as they were threat and instead install army of paper generals and dogs. This is why there is no debate in parliament, it has become a rubber stamp, dogs say yes to everything that Pinky proposed, no one dared to challenge.

    Pinky largely under thumb of Empress Dowager, many plans were hatched behind the iron curtains. Many stats had disappeared and things had become non transparent due to the massive losses and also policies destroying this island.

    Unlike papa, who commanded global respect and respect even from oppositions, he just another clown who inherited from his papa special arrangement.

    you have said it very well.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • @knnn

    From my observation having spent a decade with TRE, I don’t think ANYONE in the current 4Gs is even near to 20% of what the late Mr Lee was.

    Of those that I especially don’t like and see no up are mostly SMOS and MOS, they are the ones who especially turn me off. Every day talk cock and sing song, with no real substance, all NATO.

    There are two particular millisters whom I especially also see no up, but I won’t mention his and her name, I think many already know who me talking about. lol

    GD Star Rating
    loading...

Leave a Reply

 characters available


Scroll Down For More Interesting Stuff


Official Quick Links
Members LoginContact UsSupport Us
Sponsored Advertisement
Search On TR Emeritus
Sponsored Advertisement
Announcement
Advertisements
Visitors Statistic
Latest Statistic

UA-67043412-1