Marker to remember anti-communist struggle

Marker to remember anti-communist struggle

SINGAPORE - Mr Simon Barter was walking home from work on Oct 30, 1951 when he felt cold steel pressed against his head.

He ducked instinctively as a shot rang past his ear. The gunman pulled the trigger a second time, but the pistol jammed.

The 24-year-old clerk ran home as the reality of the communist threat sunk in.

"After that day, I was fearful. I realised that something like this could happen any time, anywhere," the 86-year-old Singaporean recalled yesterday.

The attack was a retaliation for his role in helping to nab a communist arsonist during Christmas the previous year.

His experience was one of several recounted to The Straits Time yesterday, at the launch of a marker to commemorate Singapore's struggle against the communists.

The granite-and-steel marker is dedicated to the 8,000 people killed or wounded in Malaysia and Singapore and those who fought for a democratic, non-communist Singapore.

It stands at Esplanade Park in Queen Elizabeth Walk, next to the Tan Kim Seng fountain and Lim Bo Seng Memorial and close to the Cenotaph.

Former president S R Nathan and National Trades Union Congress co-founder Mahmud Awang unveiled it yesterday. Both had, in the 1960s, waged a battle for the hearts and minds of workers against the now defunct pro-communist Singapore Association of Trade Unions.

The unveiling was also significant as December marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the 1989 Haadyai Peace Agreements between the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and the governments of Malaysia and Thailand.

They marked the end of the CPM's four-decade campaign of violence and subversion.

Also at the ceremony were several ministers, including Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong. He told Parliament the marker was partly the result of feedback from retired police officers, who wanted recognition for the people who stood up to the communists. He also said a memorial to victims of Konfrontasi will be unveiled next year at the Dhoby Ghaut Lawn, across from MacDonald House. This was where two Indonesian saboteurs set off bombs that killed three people and injured more than 30 in March 1965.

Others at the ceremony included families of survivors of the communist insurgency.

Ms Norain Abdul Wahid, 55, whose father Abdul Wahid Baba was paralysed after being shot at by two communist gunmen in 1950, remembered the incident from the diary of her late father.

"The first and second shots missed him but the third hit his spine and he collapsed," said the technical officer with a telco.

Mr Abdul Wahid went on to become a decorated paralympian. His achievements include a gold in javelin at the 1962 Paralympic Games in Australia. He died in 2011 aged 83.

Lives lost in battle against communism
"One crucial fight Singapore went through on the road to nationhood was the fight against communism, specifically the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM). The CPM sought to oust the governments of Malaya and Singapore, and replace them with a communist regime. It launched a campaign of violence and intimidation which lasted four decades. Fortunately the CPM failed, but 8,000 civilians and security officers lost their lives in the struggle... Today, the CPM is a distant memory. But we should never take our peace and harmony for granted."
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a Facebook post on the marker's unveiling

yanliang@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Dec 9, 2014.
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