Expressive Piece: What is worse than physical torture? [Political activists / detainees]

  • I was inspired to write this expressive piece based on personal accounts of Singaporean political detainees I have read up (which may or may not be entirely true), as well as after reflecting on the way our mainstream media portrays local political activists and detainees which can strongly influence how we as the public view them. As such, I placed myself in their very shoes to express out the struggles and torment I think they might feel or go through.

What is worst than physical torture? ….

Psychological torture.

They place you in solitary confinement with little stimuli. They interrogate you. They take turns to question you. They do things to you you can’t say. Not because it was your hallucination, not because it did not happen, not because no one would believe you. But because.. you’re afraid, you’re afraid of what are the consequences or outcomes of doing so? What can they do to your family and friend? And is the justice system really as blind as it is supposed to be? Or maybe, it is indeed blind to injustice?

But ironically, it is the interrogation, the questioning, the things they do, that keeps you sane, that reminds you of your physical presence, that breaks the monotony of the scary silence. You just want it to end, but, you can’t give in to them. Your soul keeps fighting to live, when your body is dying like a dry leaf. Are you going to admit and sign something you didn’t do? Be locked up and left out of mainstream history like a propaganda tool. Giving you labels and unkind deeds, placing your identity as a grey seed.

They bankrupt you. They turn mainstream media against you. They make your family afraid. Even when facts is brought up to play. Everything should be kept silent, or I’ll make you a deviant. The public is going to view you differently, companies going to ignore you. You become black-marked. Your family members opportunities get dark. No one knows the other side of the story, your personal accounts. When you try to bring it up in court, ignorance was what you got.

Why psychological torture? 

1) How do you prove that they have tortured you? *when there’s no evidence since the effects are in your head
2) Even if its proven, how do you proof your perpetrators?
3) Even if the mental institution has proven your psychological torture and the perpetrators, Who is the mental institution under? Whose orders do they have to take from?
4) Just say if your case do make it to the judiciary system, who is it under again?

Ending Poem:

I’ll take away your survival needs.
I’ll take away your reputation.
I’ll take away your sanity,
All these becomes our priority.

And what is left is family, if there even is…
With history fading into the black hollow screens.

Other relevant Offbeat Perspective’s articles


Interview with Jason Soo, Director of 1987: Untracing The Conspiracy on the Marxist Conspiracy, and ISA


Lim Hock Siew: A life without conviction, without idealism, is a mere meaningless existence.


Xperimental Pathways: (Sean Francis Han) Radical, Intellectual, Activist.


Said Zahari on his detention, Lim chin siong, Communist label, and Lee kuan yew [Investigative journalism]


[Investigative Journalism] 6 Political Videos & Singapore’s Censorship


Investigative Journalism: Minister Tan Chuan Jin, ISA, Marxist Conspiracy, Civil Society, Governmental Fundings ((*In the bottom page of this article link, are relevant  Operation Coldstore/Spectrum articles and videos)


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[Articles for reading]

 1994 – 2015: A Chronology of Authoritarian Rule in Singapore

An open letter to PAP : Torture and the abuse of ISA

More ex-detainees speak out : Political violence and the abuse of the ISA in Singapore

Surviving long-term detention without trial

The life and times of Ho Piao : The torture of a political prisoner

23 years after Operation Spectrum : Ex-detainees recall mental and physical abuses

Political detention in Singapore : Prisoner case histories

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Photo Source: Being Liberal


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