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浅谈关于陈六使公民权问题的报导

── 江学文 ──


海峡时报虽然也是官媒,但我发觉它有时比华文官媒(特别是近几年的联合早报)显得稍有个性,所以这回报导陈六使公民权问题,并不令人奇怪。这篇由卓名扬(Elgin Toh, Ming Yang,2008年在美国大学毕业,2010年在北京大学拿政治学硕士学位,曾任总理公署国家安全统筹秘书处助理主任) 所写的报导,对南大和陈六使所持的态度可算公正,只是对网上事件导致刘程强在国会问讯的报导未免过于片面。比如报导说,陈六使公民权问题在网上引起“热烈争论”,(我只听到支持的声音,哪里有什么争论?)而且也根本不提起那封在网上广泛流传而引起刘程强注意的《给区如柏学长的联名公开信》

区如柏告诉海峡时报记者卓先生说:“对陈六使最公道的做法是为他身后恢复公民权”,这是她间接隐约地承认她的2003年报导的确是“假新闻”。

区如柏也告诉记者她是在和中华总商会名誉会长陈永裕做访谈时得到这项消息。诸位请注意:在这里她并没有直接说是陈永裕告诉她,而只说在“做访谈时得到这项消息”,如果不是陈永裕,究竟是谁告诉她这“假新闻”呢?

即使假设是陈永裕告诉她的,可是大家都知道,李光耀在世的时后,所有关于陈六使的官方动作、特别是要恢复陈六使的公民权,肯定是一件必须李光耀本人首肯的大事。疑点是:身为“资深记者”的区如柏不可能不明白这点。既然如此,怎么可以凭一面之词、不进一步调查就写成新闻?这样的大事,即使没有官方文告、没有公布在宪报,起码也会有一份内政部发出来的公函通知陈六使家属呀(总不致于会打电话叫陈永裕什么时候有空来内政部走一趟把陈六使的公民权证书拿走吧)?

这疑点只有当事人区如柏才有能力破解。如果疑点无法破解,就很难把这乌龙解释为区如柏的无心之错,而很容易让人怀疑这是一场骗局的有意安排,目的是方便于说服南大人接受徐冠林关于南大复名/盗名交易的推销。

也有人怀疑海峡时报报导这事的动机,特别是由于记者在总理公署的身份。鉴于区如柏本身和女儿沈泽玮在媒体的人脉(她是早报多年的北京特派员,而卓名扬也在海峡时报做过三年多的外放——可能是北京——通讯员,两者之间的挂钩并非不可能)所以不能排除者报导是有人在背后造局的可能性。我只能猜测,如果是造局,也许就是区如柏间接回应公开信的一种方式,然后逼使联合早报随后跟进(没有有什么理由不跟进)、到时只刊登海峡时报报导的译文,这样就可以避免直接答复、也以可避免认错道歉。

〖附录一〗:
Remembering Tan Lark Sye

Elgin Toh
Insight Editor

Published
Sep 21, 2017, 5:00 am SGT

An important historical fact for the Chinese community was finally settled last week - bringing back to view a longstanding discussion over how to remember a past leader of the community.

This leader is the late Tan Lark Sye, founder of the former Nanyang University - also known as Nantah - and a prominent leader of the Chinese community from the 1940s until his death in 1972.

Tan's citizenship had been cancelled by the authorities after the 1963 General Election, a well-known fact.

But was it ever reinstated?

That ought to be a fairly straightforward issue, one would think. Strangely enough, it was a hotly debated matter on the Internet, which led Workers' Party Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang to file a parliamentary question at this month's sitting, to shed light on the issue.

The Government's answer was short and straight to the point: "The late Mr Tan Lark Sye was deprived of his Singapore citizenship in 1964. He had engaged in activities prejudicial to the security and public order of Malaya and Singapore, in particular, in advancing the Communist cause.

"There has been no change in his Singapore citizenship status since then."

The discussion stems from an article published in 2003. Veteran Lianhe Zaobao journalist Au Yue Pak wrote in the Chinese daily that Mr Tan Eng Joo, nephew of Tan Lark Sye, had once gone to the Home Affairs Ministry to collect the elder Tan's restored citizenship.

It created a buzz among the Chinese-educated, but people did not quite know what to make of it.


Nanyang University Council chairman Tan Lark Sye addressing students
at the university's convocation ceremony in 1963.

On the one hand, there was scepticism as it was the only known instance of such a claim being made. On the other hand, nobody refuted it.

Online forums were also far less active in 2003. The issue hummed in the background for years until a month ago, when it went viral, with Nantah alumni calling on Madam Au to clarify the issue.

This prompted Mr Low, the only Nantah alumnus in Parliament, to file his question, which in turn drew the definitive answer from the authorities.

Madam Au, who has retired, told The Straits Times she got the information from interviewing Mr Tan Eng Joo, a prominent businessman who was at the time honorary president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It will remain unclear what Mr Tan Eng Joo was referring to - on collecting Tan Lark Sye's restored citizenship - as he died in 2011.

But one thing is clear: Tan Lark Sye remains an important figure to some Chinese-educated Singaporeans. His place in history and how he is remembered is still of significance to them.

Tan was born in 1897 in Fujian province, China, in Jimei town, which was also the birthplace of philanthropist Tan Kah Kee.

Tan Lark Sye left China in 1916 to seek a better life and, shortly after arriving in Singapore, he began working for Tan Kah Kee, who was 23 years his senior and already an established rubber tycoon.

A few years later, the entrepreneurial Tan Lark Sye left Tan Kah Kee's employ to start his own firm with his brothers, trading rubber. Before long, he became a millionaire rubber merchant himself. The two men were close, with the younger Tan looking up to his kinsman as a mentor and fatherly figure.

After the Communists took power in China in 1949, Tan Kah Kee decided to return to help develop a "New China".

He anointed Tan Lark Sye his successor as chairman of the powerful Hokkien Huay Kuan - the association of the largest Chinese dialect group in Singapore.

In the same year, Tan Lark Sye was also elected president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, making him "the undisputed leader of the Chinese in Singapore", wrote one historian.

In the 1950s, he was among those leading the fight for citizenship for Chinese who, like himself, were born in China but had lived in Singapore for many years.

He also represented Chinese businesses in negotiating with the British for more equal trading rights vis-a-vis British firms.

He is, however, best remembered among the Chinese-educated for founding Nanyang University.

He rallied the community around Nantah's cause and made a personal donation of $5 million to its building fund. The Hokkien Huay Kuan, led by him, donated 212ha of land in Jurong as the university's campus.

He famously said during the Nantah campaign: "When the tide rises, channel it for irrigation to nourish the farmland, and it will reward you with rich gains. But hurry, because it will soon recede. Similarly, why not help poor students study while you are still capable of doing so?"

As Nantah's chairman, he steered it in its early years and did what he could to support Nantah graduates when they started working.

Madam Au, 76, who graduated from Nantah in 1963, said that thousands of Chinese-educated students like herself would never have gone to university if not for Tan Lark Sye.

At the fateful 1963 General Election, he supported several Nantah alumni running as candidates under the banner of Barisan Sosialis, the main opposition party to the People's Action Party (PAP). The PAP won that election.

The Government said Tan had taken part in activities that "jeopardise the peace and prosperity of Singapore" and issued a statement accusing him of playing "stooge to the Communists". By 1964, it had cancelled his citizenship - which, as we now know, remains cancelled. He continued to live in Singapore, and remained leader of the Hokkien Huay Kuan until he died of a heart attack in 1972.

In many interviews with Chinese-educated Singaporeans over the years, I have found in the community a deep gratitude towards Tan. This is especially true among those who are older and remember the 1950s, when the campaign to build Nantah succeeded against all odds. It was Tan's "finest hour", as one historian wrote.

It is unlikely that last week's revelation about his cancelled citizenship will end calls from the Chinese-educated for the man to be further rehabilitated.

Madam Au said to me over the phone that, in her view, the best way to do right by Tan is to posthumously restore his citizenship. This seems unlikely, given what he has been accused of (although it is also not impossible, and would likely go down well with the Chinese ground).

But there are other ways to honour his memory. In 1998, a professorship in Chinese language and culture at Nanyang Technological University was named after him. It was established through donations from Chinese groups and Nantah alumni.

Those wishing to eulogise him can also set up scholarships or bursaries in his memory, or donate to name other institutions after him.

But the strongest tribute that can be paid to any person is for people today to identify his positive contributions and to try to do the same in this generation.

This surely outweighs putting his name on more labels.

Singaporeans who wish to pay homage to Tan can, and should, emulate the values he held dear: entrepreneurship, philanthropy and a devotion to education.

(Source:http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/remembering-tan-lark-sye)

〖附录二〗:
海峡时报关于陈六使公民权文章的重点摘译(新版)

陈六使的公民权在1963年之后被当局取消,这是众所皆知的事实。

但是公民权后来有被恢复吗?

你以为这应该是个直截了当的问题。奇怪的是,这事在网上被热烈的争论,导致刘程强(工人党秘书长)在国会询问此事,使到这事得到澄清。〖江注:我们在脸书群组的“给区如柏学长的联名公开信”受到众人的支持而流传,才受到刘程强学长的注意。我并没有看到什么争论。〗

事缘早报资深记者区如柏2003年在报纸上写道:“内政部恢复陈六使的公民权,他的侄儿陈永裕到内政部领回他的公民权证书“。对这项报导当时华校生为之哗然,但不知如何理解此事。

人们一方面存疑因为这是当时是唯一所知的个案,另一方面没人出面反驳。

在2003年,网上不是那么活跃。多年来人们只在暗地里嘀咕这事,直到一个月前有些南大校友公开呼吁区女士出面澄清时,这事才炽热化而成为大事。

这促使刘先生(国会里唯一的南大生)呈案询问此事时才从当局得到肯定的答案。

已经退休的区女士告诉海峡时报她在和中华总商会名誉会长陈永裕做访谈时得到这项消息。〖江注:在这里区学长并没有直接说是陈永裕告诉她,她只说在“做访谈时得到这项消息”。即使是陈永裕告诉她,我真不明白身为“资深记者”,这么重要的大事,怎么可以凭一面之词、不进一步调查就写成新闻?即使不在宪报公布,起码也有一份内政部的公函呀?〗

区女士在电话上这样跟记者说:她认为对陈六使最公道的做法是为他身后恢复公民权。从他迄今被控的罪名来看,这似乎不可能(虽然也不是绝对不可能、这样做会被华社所接受)。



自强不息 力争上游

2017年9月22日首版 Created on September 22, 2017
2017年9月24日改版 Last updated on September 24, 2017