By: Howard Lee
If you were writing your memoirs which includes the history of your grandfather, who also happens to be a pioneer with an auditorium named after him, would you not want to have your book launched in that same auditorium?
So thought Dr Poh Soo Kai, founding member of the current ruling People’s Action Party, former assistant secretary-general of Barisan Sosialis, and a political detainee under Operation Coldstore, whose grandfather also happens to be Chinese businessman and philanthropist Tan Kah Kee.
Which led his publisher, social enterprise Function 8, to try and book the Tan Kah Kee Auditorium at the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), for Dr Poh to launch his memoirs, “Living In A Time Of Deception”.
The plan went well initially, with SCCCI confirming the booking on 23 December 2015, sufficient time for Function 8 to organise the event planned in mid-February.
However, the company received word from SCCCI seven days later, stating that their booking has been cancelled.
“I am sorry to inform you that your Application for Venue Rental at our Auditorium has not been approved by our council members,” wrote SCCCI. “I shall proceed with the refund process for your application. Thank you for your kind understanding.”
As the venue was the most appropriate venue that they could match to Dr Poh, Function 8 tried to appeal the decision. Emails were sent to SCCCI’s president, Mr Thomas Chua and various council members.
The final response on 13 January, another seven days after the appeal was first made and written on behalf of Mr Chua by SCCCI’s assistant secretary-general, gave the same answer: “We regret to inform you that there is no change in the decision of our council. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.”
TISG (this publication) understands that Function 8 has requested for SCCCI to provide an alternative date for the same venue, but received no alternative proposal.
No reasons were given as to why the booking was cancelled, nor any clarification provided as to why SCCCI’s council, consisting 56 members, should have any inputs on a single booking of the Tan Kah Kee Auditorium.
While the publisher has managed to find another location for the launch, Mr Tan Tee Seng, a member of Function 8, felt that SCCCI’s actions reflected badly on how the Chambers conducts it activities with business entities.
SCCCI’s current president, Mr Thomas Chua, was a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) in the last term of government and was slated to represent the interest of the business community. With the new government elected since GE2015, he has recently expressed his interest in renewing his term as an NMP.
“As the President of the Chinese Chamber, I do have a lot of opportunities to engage with businesses and trade associations. So, this is what I did in the previous term, I tried my best to reflect the problems and challenges faced by businesses, and SMEs in particular,” he was quoted by media as saying.
NMPs are not elected by the people but nominated by their community and approved by Parliament for their term. NMPs must not be members of any political party at their time of appointment, although their political affiliations are normally unquestioned.
The ruling People’s Action Party mooted the idea of NMPs as a means of increasing diversity of voices in Parliament, and the scheme was implemented in September 1990.
TISG has sent a few questions to SCCCI asking about how the Chambers conducts its business of renting out its premises to business entities. At time of publishing, SCCCI has not responded. We will publish their reply in a separate article when we receive it.
Dr Poh Soo Kai plans to travel to Singapore from his residence in Malaysia to speak at the book launch. “Living In A Time Of Deception” is expected to cover his personal account of Operation Coldstore. As a result of the cancellation, the book launch has been changed to 13 February and will be held at Holiday Inn Singapore (more details HERE).
Your chance to meet with Dr Poh Soo Kai.'Living In A Time Of Deception"Book Launch13th February 2016, 2pmHoliday Inn Singapore Atrium, Outram Roadhttps://m.facebook.com/events/214541525557653?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A3%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D&aref=3——————————————Dr Poh Soo Kai was a founding member of the PAP and was subsequently detained twice without trial under the ISA – for a total of 17 years.Here, in this talk given to a Malaysian audience in KL, he explains how he first met Lee Kuan Yew, why the PAP split, how LKY was instrumental in stirring up communal tensions which led to the racial riots, the reason for Separation, a Singapore under Lim Chin Siong and the his view on the current PAP Government."Reforming PAP under Kuan Yew is not possible, but after Kuan Yew's death there may be a fight between three factions in the PAP."Original full video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=151&v=YVcZADHF6kI————————————————————Dr Poh Soo Kai : I would not shake Lee Kuan Yew's handshttp://singaporerebel.blogspot.sg/2009/12/dr-poh-soo-kai-i-would-not-shake-lee.htmlLee Kuan Yew a "political pimp" : Dr Poh Soo Kaihttp://singaporerebel.blogspot.sg/2015/02/lee-kuan-yew-political-pimp-dr-poh-soo.htmlThe 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore – Poh Soo Kai https://youtu.be/Ntfats1da4IOperation Coldstore Roundtable – Dr Poh Soo Kai https://youtu.be/nrYyj3_TN6MOperation Coldstore Roundtable – Why did Dr Poh trust Lee Kuan Yew?https://youtu.be/YyJCOozB_Ek
Posted by Martyn See on Thursday, 18 June 2015