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Door opens for return of political exile


South China Morning Post February 27, 1999
BARRY PORTER in Singapore

POLITICALl exile Ho Juan Thai has been told he is welcome to return after 22 years - if he is prepared to be interviewed over his allegedly racially inflammatory speeches during the 1976 general elections.

However, Malaysian opposition politician Abdul Razak Ahmad is still persona non grata.

Mr Ho fled to Britain in 1977 after unsuccessfully standing as a candidate for the opposition Workers Party during the 1976 election, which now Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew's People's Action Party won hands down.

While campaigning, Mr Ho lambasted the government's promotion of the use of English over Chinese. He fled before police could detain him under the Internal Security Act as a national threat.

He allegedly doctored his passport to help him leave the country. Mr Ho has since repeatedly challenged the government to arrest him.

Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng told parliament yesterday: "Although no warrant of arrest has been issued against Mr Ho, the authorities would like to interview him over his racially inflammatory speeches."

If Mr Ho was obliging, the Singapore High Commission in London would issue him with a one-way document to return home.

Mr Wong was responding to a parliamentary question by Workers Party leader Joshua Jeyaretnam as to why the Singapore immigration authorities had been reluctant to issue Mr Ho a new passport.

The minister said Mr Ho had not been given a new passport because he had failed to respond to Immigration Department queries.

Mr Wong said: "Mr Ho had publicly declared that he amended the expiry date of his passport to enter the UK in July 1977. This may constitute an offence of forgery."

Mr Jeyaretnam also asked why Mr Abdul Razak, deputy president of Parti Rakyat Malaysia, a Malaysian pro-democracy party, was still barred after 33 years.

Mr Wong said it was because he had taken part in "subversive activities" while studying law at Singapore University. "It is the view of this government that Abdul Razak is an undesirable person", he said.

Published in the South China Morning Post. Feb 27, 1999

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