Connect with us

Civil Society

Former Barisan Socialis MP Lee Tee Tong passes away at 92

Lee Tee Tong, former Barisan Socialis MP for Bukit Timah, passed at 92.

Mr Lee won in the 1963 General Election but faced arrest during “Operation Pecah” before assuming office.

He was detained without trial under ISA until 1 June 1981, amounting to 18 years under the PAP government.



SINGAPORE: Lee Tee Tong (or Lee Tse Tong, 李诗东), a former Barisan Socialis Member of Parliament for Bukit Timah, who was once detained for 18 years under the Internal Security Act (ISA), has passed away at the age of 92.

According to Singapore’s Chinese media outlet Lianhe Zaobao, Mr Lee’s wife, Huang Liang Qin, revealed during an interview at the wake on Monday (18 Dec) that Mr Lee passed away in the early hours at Tan Tock Seng Hospital due to pneumonia.

Mr Lee was born in 1931 in Wenchang, Hainan. At the age of eight, he crossed the seas to settle in Singapore.

Struggling against impoverished circumstances, he entered the workforce at 16, holding diverse roles such as a construction worker, a power saw operator, an employee serving Westerners, and a baker.

Lee Tee Tong held several significant positions throughout his career, notably serving as the Paid Secretary of the Singapore Bus Workers’ Union and a Central Committee Member of the Singapore Association of Trade Unions (SATU).

Mr Lee joined the People’s Action Party (PAP) when it was a left-wing party.

However, he later realized that the PAP did not adhere to its socialist principles. Despite this, he supported the party in the 1959 general election to collectively pursue the expulsion of the British.

After the PAP’s triumph, he and numerous other left-wing members faced expulsion from the party, presumably due to the non-renewal of their memberships.

Under the guidance of Mr Lim Chin Siong, those departing from the PAP established the Barisan Sosialis in 1961.

Amid the arrests of more than 130 opposition leaders, including the entire central executive committee of the Barisan Sosialis, Mr Lee, alongside other trade unionists, Nanyang University graduates, and undergraduates, found themselves compelled to lead the party into the general election on 21 September 1963.

Mr Lee contested in Bukit Timah, the constituency previously secured by Mr Lim Chin Siong, who had been arrested during Operation Coldstore.

At 32, Mr Lee clinched victory with a 52.39% vote share in a three-cornered fight against Chor Yeok Eng from the People’s Action Party and Ong Tiong Kuan from the United People’s Party (UPP).

However, before assuming office, he was arrested on 8 October during “Operation Pecah.”

He tendered his resignation from his seat in a letter dated 12 November 1966, while still in detention, addressed to the Speaker of Parliament.

On 15 February 1980, the Ministry of Home Affairs transferred Lee Tee Tong to Pulau Ubin.

At that time, the authorities stated that Lee Tee Tong refused to promise not to continue subversive activities.

However, the Internal Security Department (ISD) assessed that he could be released to Pulau Ubin without excessive risk.

Lee Tee Tong was held without trial until 1 June 1981, amounting to 18 years under the PAP government.

Upon receiving permission to return to the Singapore mainland, Lee pursued work as an electrician, retiring in his fifties and dedicating himself to reading.

Mdm Huang emphasized his unyielding commitment to his political ideals, describing him as resolute. Friends lauded his integrity, citing him as “upright and straightforward.”

“Lee Tee Tong didn’t read much and found writing challenging, but he was good at impromptu speeches. Whenever a friend passed away, he could speak off the cuff.”

Mr Lee’s wake is situated at Block 157, Lorong 1 Toa Payoh.

His funeral is scheduled for Friday (22 Dec), with cremation at Mandai Crematorium Hall 1 at 11:25 AM.

His legacy endures among those who stood against neo-colonialism

On Tuesday, a heartfelt tribute by Chan Wai Han, a member of Singapore’s civil society group Function 8, was shared on Facebook.

Ms. Chan’s tribute included a photo captured during the 50th-anniversary commemoration of Operation Coldstore in 2015 at Hong Lim Park.

She recalled Mr Lee’s impassioned Mandarin speech at the time, delivered without a script, which left a lasting impression.

She emphasized the irony of Mr Lee’s victory in the 1963 election, unable to assume his rightful place in the parliamentary chamber due to detention under the guise of containing communist threats.

“Mr Lee Tee Tong was incarcerated under the Internal Security Act and detained without trial for a total of 18 years and at the prime of his life!”

Ms Chan concluded by underscoring Mr Lee’s enduring legacy, asserting that he would be remembered by those who fought alongside him against neo-colonialism and for the betterment of the lives of his fellow citizens.


Share this post via:
Continue Reading
1 Comment
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

no commies pls. go sleep with your ex-“partner”, KY the Lee.


Discover more from Gutzy Asia

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading