Saturday, May 29, 2010

NUS History Seminar: Why has Mr Vincent Cheng been barred from speaking?

Prompted by my friend Fong Hoe Fang, I sent this letter in to all the board members of the National Library Board. You should too. Their addresses are at the bottom of this mail.

Basically, the issue is that Vincent Cheng was invited to speak at a National University of Singapore History Seminar. He was detained by the Internal Security Department in 1987 as part of a round-up of activists called Operation Spectrum.

A few days ago, news came that NLB had forbidden him to speak at the seminar. Details of the situation are over at Martyn See's blog here.

Dear Sirs and Madams,

I'm a writer and journalist who often uses the National Library
Board's resources and participates in its activities. I've also been
active in working with the NLB to design and execute such activity,
namely the Experiencing Singapore Literature symposia of 2008 and

I'm therefore extremely concerned by the news that the NLB has banned
a Singapore citizen, Vincent Cheng from speaking and attending an NUS
History Seminar on 4 June at the National Library.

I do not know Mr Cheng personally. But I do know that by law, he
should be free to speak about his experiences, given that more than 20
years have passed since the events of his detention. What better
occasion is there for this to happen than at an academic event hosted
by the National Library?

Therefore, I must ask: why is the National Library Board blocking this
flow of information? Why is a Singapore citizen being prevented from
sharing knowledge with other Singapore citizens? Are your hands being
forced by another authority? Is this authority blind to the fact that
its actions of censorship are tarring the name of Singapore across the

I strongly urge you to do all you can to reinstate Mr Cheng at the
Seminar. If you need help, please tell us library users. We are
citizens who loves knowledge, and believe in the spreading of
knowledge, and will do what we can to make sure that knowledge is not
destroyed. We trust that you share these values, too.

Yours faithfully,

Ng Yi-Sheng.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh look - the token Malay and Indian among the NLB's Board Members!