ISA Detainee Teo Soh Lung Publicly Challenges Dr Janil Puthucheary


Obbana Rajah

In her Facebook post, former ISA Detainee Teo Soh Lung openly issued a challenge to Dr Janil Puthucheary.

She asked PAP MP and Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information, “Can Dr Janil Puthucheary tell us if his father was a communist and hence by his logic, a terrorist in 1963?”

Dominic and James Puthucheary, Dr Janil’s father and uncle were detained during Operation Coldstore under the Internal Security Act, for participation in subversive activities.

Her entire public challenge:

“I am sure Dr Janil Puthucheary knows as many victims of Operation Coldstore as me because his father Mr Dominic Puthucheary and uncle, the late Mr James Puthucheary were also victims.

I do not know if Dominic Puthucheary was a communist who believed in violence and admits that he was rightly imprisoned in 1963.

All the victims I know and these include the late Dr Lim Hock Siew, A Mahadeva and Pak Said Zahari, and those who are active today like Dr Poh Soo Kai do not admit that they were or are communists. They spent years in prison, much longer than Dominic Puthucheary who I understand was booted out of Singapore shortly after his arrest. They say that they were and are socialists and anti colonialists. They wanted to rid the British from Malaya and that was why they helped found the PAP.

Can Dr Janil Puthucheary tell us if his father was a communist and hence by his logic, a terrorist in 1963? As Singapore citizens we have a right to know from our politicians the truth of Operation Coldstore. His sharing of his father’s belief and actions will help us understand our history and the perpetual need to use the ISA.

Dr Janil Puthucheary should not make light of the years of sacrifice of the victims of Operation Coldstore by his essay in The Straits Times. He should not undermine the sacrifices of his late uncle James Puthucheary who was detained in 1951 and again for three years in 1956 before Operation Coldstore. I firmly believe that his uncle was a true Nationalist, totally committed to an independent Malaya which includes Singapore and not a communist or a terrorist.

All detainees deserve a fair and open trial. If the PAP have evidence against the detainees of Operation Coldstore, they should have been tried in open court back in 1963. The PAP and Dr Janil Puthucheary should explain to the people of Singapore why they, his uncle and father were deprived of a fair trial.”

Netizens’ reactions were a mixed bag.


    • This lady is mixed up with facts. There is more but at the moment I can say that Janil’s dad and Uncle were not arrested by the BRITISH because they were communists.

      She is actually a nice person mixing with the wrong people. A social worker who was made use of by vincent cheng under wah piow directions.

      Problem with these people is that they use rhetoric. Explanations were already given on why the detainies were not put to trail, but each one was released once it was determined that they are now harmless.

      I heard that her ears are very light. Someone probably put her up to it.

  1. I think its a question best not asked but analyze why would the PAP, knowingly put Janil up as part of the committee that would examine coldstore and have him put up a statement together with Desmond Lee regarding it. Definitely more than meets the eye

  2. Are we looking at the face of yet another dishonorable son? Junior is expected to simply answer Yes, or No. Any attempts at clarification we will come to that later! Why? It is more important to look at the motive and the intent; why is Junior doing this? For this there are three parts to get to the bottom of all these. One, has Junior ever been told by Senior, -“Son. In 1963, nine years before you were born, Me your daddy was thrown into jail without trial by my political comrade, are you glad that you are not the son of a communist, my Son?” Two, “Son, these people with whom, you are eating and sharing from the same rice bowl, still owes me, your Father an apology, Son are you glad that you are not the son of a communist?” And three, ” My dear little kutu cherry Son, do you think the PAP will still trust you if you are indeed the Son of a communist. Are you glad that I am and never was a communist?”

  3. At that point, the Communist Party was split between those who believed in winning power through having a United Front with the PAP, and those who believed that the British colonial Governnent (Singapore was still a colony in 1963) would never allow a Left or Communist govt and therefore a violent struuggle was necessary.

    The Comintern (an international communist movement) had called for armed struggle to liberate colonial territories such as Malaya and Vietnam.

    Although the PAP were beneficiaries, they may not necessarily be the initiators of many initiatives against the communists.

    The prime movers of Coldstore include the British colonial authorities, leaders of UMNO and obviously, Tengku Abdul Rahman the PM of Malaya.

    What’s the difference between a communist, a sympathizer, a supporter, a mole, a spy, an informant , an activist, an advocate, an academic like Thum pitching for the communist united front?

    Do you think any of them would carry a platinum card and proudly declare, “ I am a communist!”?

    Remember, in those days, if you are a Commie, you are an enemy of the colonial master. But are there people backing a communist cause? Yes!

    History is not as simple as being about who’s right or wrong? Good or bad? Honest or lying?

    There are 50 shades of grey and the nuances between two polarities, if there are even polarities, make fact-finding and seeking of evidence challenging and subject to interpretations.

    Having said that, not to revisit the past is to be blinded to valuable lessons that can help us build a better future. To over-glorify heroes and over-vilify villains (if there are even true heroes and villains at every moment), and over-emphasize hurts and harms in the past, we may end up entangling ourselves in a time warp.

  4. Puthu ! Ur Father was put into the Coldstore with so many of his pap friends by Dictator Lee ! So u can so easily forgotten ur Father’s suffering & be a running dog of his Dragon Son ! U r really a unfaithful Son if u don’t take revenge for ur poor Father below!!

  5. I am not pro PAP but pro reality. It is not fair to expect Janil to carry on the burden of his Father ‘sins. The Chinese culture in old imperial system will destroy the entire clan of a traitor which I detested such kind of vengeance . The fact that PAP recruited Dr Janil despite his Father ‘s past history, I find it honourable as our system recognises a person ‘s character and talents to serve individually and not the history of his family ‘s sin.