Why Coldstore is a hot topic

As part of Operation Coldstore in 1963, the Special Branch raided the Barisan Sosialis headquarters in Victoria Street. The episode was in the spotlight again in March when a Select Committee hearing saw a heated discussion between Law and Home Affai
As part of Operation Coldstore in 1963, the Special Branch raided the Barisan Sosialis headquarters in Victoria Street. The episode was in the spotlight again in March when a Select Committee hearing saw a heated discussion between Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam and historian Thum Ping Tjin.ST FILE PHOTO
Dr Thum Ping Tjin is among a group of scholars who dispute the official narrative about the 1963 arrests and want it revised.
Dr Thum Ping Tjin is among a group of scholars who dispute the official narrative about the 1963 arrests and want it revised.PHOTO: GOV.SG/YOUTUBE

Operation Coldstore is in anything but cold storage. The arrest of over 100 people one morning in 1963 by the Special Branch happened over 55 years ago. Yet, in recent years - and weeks - these detentions have come under intense scrutiny. Insight looks at why.

It was an event that happened before many Singaporeans were even born. One morning 55 years ago, over 100 suspected leftists were arrested by Special Branch police and held without trial on accusations that they posed a serious security threat to Singapore.

Yet, Operation Coldstore - the name given to the police operation on Feb 2, 1963 - has never fully disappeared off the radar. And now, its ripples are being felt again. In March, a Select Committee hearing on deliberate online falsehoods was rocked by a heated discussion on those mass arrests that occurred several months before Singapore became part of Malaysia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 06, 2018, with the headline 'Why Coldstore is a hot topic'. Print Edition | Subscribe