"Original Sin"? Revising the Revisionist Critique of the 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore

"Original Sin"? Revising the Revisionist Critique of the 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore
Date of publication:  2015
Publisher:  Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Number of pages:  168
Code:  BM518
Soft Cover
ISBN: 9789814620437
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Professor Thomas J. Bellows, Political Science, University of Texas at Austin, USA.

"....book is relevant and an excellent piece of analysis." 

S.R. Joey Long. Bijdragen Tot De Taal-, Land - En Volkenkunde 173 (2017) 382-387.

"In crafting his narrative, Ramakrishna seeks to respond to recent works on the subject. Underpinned mainly by declassified British and Australian archival records, these studies challenge the scale of the communist threat to the city-state. They argue that the Lee government overstated the menace of communism. 

Ramakrishna contests that narrative, and goes to significant lengths to acquit Lee and his allies of political skullduggery. He details the theory of communism, highlighting the ploys initiated by communists to assume power. He then narrates the history of the Malayan Communist Party and the seditious intent of the communist united front in Singapore. 

This is an admirable study of Singapore's postwar history. Ramakrishna's book is significant because it brings into sharp focus the arrival of the history wars onto Singapore's shores. Detailed in the volume are the brickbats and heated arguments among scholars and historical figures over the interpretations of Singaporean history. Countering those who challenge the conventional narrative, Ramakrishna's book will undoubtedly enliven the debate."

About the publication

"Revisionist" or "alternative" historians have increasingly questioned elements of the Singapore Story — the master narrative of the nation's political and socioeconomic development since its founding by the British in 1819. Much criticism focuses especially on one defining episode of the Story: the internal security dragnet mounted on 2 February 1963 against Communist United Front elements on the island, known to posterity as Operation Coldstore. The revisionists claim that Coldstore was mounted for political rather than security reasons and actually destroyed a legitimate Progressive Left opposition personalized by the charismatic figure of Lim Chin Siong — rather than a dangerous Communist network as the conventional wisdom holds. Relying on both declassified and some previously unseen classified sources, this book challenges revisionist claims, reiterating the historic importance of Coldstore in helping pave the way for Singapore's remarkable journey from Third World status to First in a single generation.


  • "Original Sin"? Revising the Revisionist Critique of the 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore
    [Whole Publication, ISBN: 9789814620444], by Kumar Ramakrishna, author
  • Preliminary pages with Introduction
  • 1. Government Sources: Who Uses Them, and the Alternates' Unarticulated Ideological Outlook
  • 2. Was There Really a Dangerous Communist United Front?
  • 3. The Curious Case of Lim Chin Siong
  • 4. Why "Was Operation Coldstore Driven by Political and Not Security Grounds?" Is the Wrong Question
  • Conclusion: The Enduring Need for a Singapore Story 2.0
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author

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