"When I was a young rebel in the seventies, I received the news that my brother-in-law and eldest sister were emigrating to Australia with pious indignation. I felt that despite the injustices, Malaysians should stay and fight for our rights while helping to build the country.
It was easy for me to say as a property less and angry young man. But could I honestly feel how my brother-in-law felt as a professor of medicine in University of Malaya, watching the compromises to academic excellence in the name of bumiputeraism and suffering the indignity of being systematically bypassed in his career advancement?
His warning of the possible de-recognition of UM's MBBS degree by the British Medical Council was not heeded and this became a reality in the Eighties. The rest is history…"
"Until today, some people I meet still ask if I’ll be emigrating to the UK since my kids are studying in the UK and I have a British wife. My answer is always: "If I had wanted to emigrate, I would have done so in the seventies!"
When I finally finished my PhD, I returned to "build my homeland" in the early eighties. I could have stayed and enjoyed a good bourgeois existence in Britain enjoying the English countryside, good ale and the arts but my social conscience would have got the better of me ere too long…
Back in Malaysia at the end of 1982, apart from working I wrote profusely in response to many issues confronting our society during that time. It was a period when the press was relatively freer and while it was "owned by the MCA", it was "edited by the MIC for the DAP", as we used to say.
During Operation Lalang in October 1987.
It turned out to be a false spring. The eighties were the heyday of activism in the country which culminated in the "Operation Lalang"crackdown. The BN government showed its appreciation of my nation building efforts by arresting and detaining me without trial."
Detention without trial under the ISA is a good test of one's patriotism. During the first sixty days of solitary confinement when the special branch was trying to 'rehabilitate' me, I remember they had a three-pronged approach to my rehabilitation programme (sic),viz.:
(i) Why don't you emigrate since you have a British wife rather than"cause trouble" here?
(ii) Why don’t you join the Barisan Nasional instead of always siding with the opposition?
(iii) Why can't you be like Khoo Khay Kim instead of speaking for those Chinese educationists?
To the first question, I told them I was a Malaysian who had come home to serve the country.
To the second, I said it was against my principles to join racist political parties.
To the third, I said, "You've already got one Khoo Khay Kim, why do you want another?"
Rest of his article: