|23 Oct 1947-20 Nov 2011|
In 1977, the twin spacecraft Voyager 1 and 2 blasted off to take advantage of a planetary alignment that occurs once every 176 years. Travelling a billion miles every 3 years, they flew past Jupiter (1979), Saturn (1980), Uranus (1986), Neptune (1989), and onward to infinity and beyond. After 34 years in space, Voyager 1 is 18 billion km away; Voyager 2 is 14.5 km away. That's close to the theoretical 19 billion km distance where the solar system ends. The spacecraft carries messages from earth, music and greetings, etched in old styled phonographs. In 1977, nobody heard of a CD.
Francis Khoo Kah Siang spent those 34 years in exile.
In an obituary notice on Friday 25 Nov, Mrs Khoo said that her husband was involved in the legalities of forming a Citizens' Co-op to save the doomed Singapore Herald.
"On May 27, 1971 - after the Wee Cho Yaw fiasco - a pro-tem committee of "five concerned citizens," namely University of Singapore's economics lecturer Dr Lee Soo Ann, lawyers Francis Khoo Kah Siang, political scientist Patrick Low, bank officer Mok Kwong Yue, and architect Tay Kheng Soon, stepped forward and issued a statement calling upon the people and government to "support our efforts to set up a co-operative to purchase the Singapore Herald and turn it into a Citizens' Paper."
(The Media Enthralled: Singapore Revisited, Francis Seow, page 95)
Although Lee Kuan Yew had reluctantly absolved the CIA of "direct involvement" in the operation of the Singapore Herald, he had persisted in his stubborn belief that other U.S. propaganda agencies were likely financiers, such as the U.S. Information Service and the Voice of America. The Singapore Herald was accused of creating unwelcomed "pressure points on the government" and had to be stopped at all costs.
The international reaction was scathing:
"Singapore is a one-party State and bears the injuries that all one-party States do to themselves.
Those who see the power of the Singapore government and the lengths to which Lee Kuan Yew is prepared to go to hang on to it are frightened by what is likely to be the result of it. In Singapore the question is being asked more often these days: what is the point of being the best fed, best administered, best education nations in Asia if that nation is also one of the least free."
(The Australian, 21 May 1971)
Francis Khoo is free at last. At 64, he takes his place among the heavenly stars.