Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Review of the book "Living in a time of deception"

This is in response to requests to make a review of Dr. Poh Soo Kai's book "Living in a time of deception". The book has been successfully launched recently but no serious attempt has been made by any quarter to review it. The Straits Times has attempted to make a rather feeble review by its journalist Leong Weng Kam which does not quite capture the essense the author has tried to convey.

Quite apart from giving a biography of his maternal grandfather Tan Kah Kee in the opening chapter, it gives a powerful insight of the intricacies and complicities of his former comrade-in-arms and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew from the time of the Fajar sedition trial in the 1950s up to his two detentions under the ISA in the 1960s and 70s.

Quite startlingly, Dr, Poh had been privy to the numerous so-called underhand manoeuvres against PAP interests by Lee Kuan Yew including his alleged collaboration with the then Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock leading to the detention of CUF leaders like Lim Chin Siong and company. But what is puzzling to the public was Dr. Poh's reluctance or inaction in exposing such machinations to his PAP members at the right opportunity. Perhaps it could be the magnitude of the problem that he faced which could have devastating repercussions he was unable to predict or handle.

Dr. Poh has a remarkable memory and the book is very informative on the interplay of forces between Lee Kuan Yew and his highly suspicious so-called comrades-in-arms like Lim Chin Siong, Fong Swee Suan and other similar so-called CUF leaders who controlled the mass base which was critical to Lee Kuan Yew in his quest for political power. They were strange bed-fellows, perhaps in a kind of modus vivendi, but Lee Kuan Yew had control of the State Apparatus and there was nothing Lim Chin Siong and his comrades could do but to bide for time which turned out to be in vain.

For those who have a superficial knowledge of the PAP saga, Dr. Poh's book gives a ringside view of the battle of minds of the protagonists of both sides which had been unknown to the public but nevertheless intriguing. It may be surprising to many how Dr. Poh could have been so privileged in observing all these epoch-making events and is now so forthcoming in regaling the public with these tales. His intention may not be to portray Lee Kuan Yew intentionally as a villian who betrayed his comrades-in-arms in order to sustain his one-man rule but is a sincere effort in presenting history as he saw it. There is a Chinese saying:When a war is won, tens of thousands will have perished (一仗功成万骨枯)。

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