Exhibits tell story of work of Internal Security Department

Dateline: Singapore

AT the end of a quiet slip road off Whitley Road is a double-storey building which houses a collection of over 800 artefacts, documents and photographs that were once classified secret by the Internal Security Department (ISD).  

More documents showing the work of ISD officers will be declassified and added to the exhibits at the ISD Heritage Centre when it adds another wing to the current 9,000 sq ft of exhibition space. 

The present display tells the story through the eyes of intelligence officers of how Singapore waged wars against the communists, communalists, religious extremists, terrorists and spies who threatened its security. 

To declassify documents, senior ISD officers selected those, which would add value to work done by researchers and not compromise ongoing intelligence activities. 

So, for example, the centre has displayed many original documents on how the Communist Party of Malaya held its meetings. But only a few items seized from the terror group Jemaah Islamiah, 37 members of whom are in lock-up, are included in mobile public exhibitions put up by the ISD. 

Apart from academics, another group that has benefited from the declassification of documents has been the ISD officers themselves. 

When some 1,000 serving and retired officers and their family members first visited the centre, they discovered for the first time details about the work of the different ISD divisions. 

As a security measure, officers operate on a ‘need to know’ basis that prevents them from divulging their work to anyone, including colleagues in other units and family members. 

So far, about 12,000 civil servants, Members of Parliament, grassroots leaders and academics have visited the centre. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network  

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