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The thick bushy eyebrows point to vigour and vitality. This was once a strong man.
There is a reason for the sad look on his face. This picture was shot on 2 February 2013 at an event to mark the 50th anniversary of Operation Cold Store - codename for a government action that resulted in over 100 people being arrested and detained without trail under the Internal Security Act.
Those detained were branded “communists” and “dangerous”. They included Chia Thye Poh - not Nelson Mandela - who hold's the world record for being the world's longest kept political prisoner. He was imprisoned for 23 years and kept under house arrest for another 9 years.
Like many Singaporeans, I grew up believing the government's reasons for their arrest and detention. Until the Internet, Facebook and YouTube came along, and I listened to some of these people speak. I now feel that they merely held different political viewpoints. No. I don't think there were dangerous communists out to create havoc and destruction.
There were lots of old folks in their 80s and beyond at the commemoration, held at Hong Lim Park, Singapore's "Speaker's Corner", the only place where public demonstrations and events such as this could be held.
I don't know who this man is. But I believe many in the audience were former political detainees, or their friends / relatives.
He must be quite closely associated with the group. One of my Facebook buddies recognise him for having attended a memorial service last year for Singapore's second longest ex- political detainee, Dr Lim Hock Siew.
Some have died.
Others have wilted.
Their spirits live on.
Also by Richard Seah
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