A journey of ironies

He was a political detainee but was later invited by the PAP to run as a candidate, a radical student activist who became the founder-chairman of Singapore’s third national university. Ho Kwon Ping’s book Asking Why is a collection of speeches and articles from a public intellectual and businessman whose career has sometimes taken improbable turns. Here are excerpts on key chapters of his life.

With a perspective developed from my Stanford days and unfamiliar with the political constraints in Singapore, I wrote freely in FEER about Singapore issues as I saw them.

I should probably have realised, when I was charged under the Official Secrets Act for an article about the SAF (I was found guilty and fined a few thousand dollars, which FEER paid on my behalf), that this was a warning from the Government. But perhaps this was too subtle or I was too headstrong; I did not moderate my writings, which became increasingly critical of the PAP.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 30, 2018, with the headline 'What it was like under ISA detention'. Print Edition | Subscribe