actually friend with "The Plen" (Fong Chong
Pik or Fang Chuang Pi) without knowing it! You see, I
knew this reporter from a small Chinese paper. I knew
him as Fan, quite a common Chinese surname. He was a
thin man, slightly taller than I -- I am about five
foot three inches (about 1.6m).
He was very friendly,
and I saw him many times because we did things
together as reporters. We would go together to the
police station or to the courts to get stories for
our respective newspapers. If there were any big
stories, he would call me up, tip me off. We often
covered assignments together, we went in my small
If there was a big
case, all the reporters present would have lunch
together at the invitation of the defence lawyer. For
instance, I remember there was once a big case where
more than 100 people were charged with belonging to
an illegal society. After covering the story, we all
had lunch together, including Fan.
Only much later did I
find out he was what Lee Kuan Yew called "The
Plen" or plenipotentiary. I always knew him as a
reporter, and we were friends. At that time, I
thought he was a good man, very friendly.
One night, Fan rang me
and asked me to go with him to the CID to check their
diary. (It was the night reporter's job to check for
any incident reported at CID.) There, he pointed out
a diary item about a factory fire.
Then we went together
to the factory and interviewed the watchman. By the
time we got there, the fire had been extinguished. He
alerted me to the fire, so that I could report on it
too and interview the watchman.
Now, thinking back,
perhaps Fan didn't want his paper to be the only one
to have the story, otherwise he would be questioned
as to why he knew about the fire so quickly (which
could expose his Communist links as the fire involved
the Communists). So he made me an accomplice!
congratulated me for writing a good story.
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