By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Many readers asked who was Chong mentioned in my article last week translated with the title "Two former ISA detainees".
Many were touched by his unfortunate experience and inspired by his positivity and optimism.
I did not mention his name in the original article mainly because I was worried that he might not wish to be identified. However, after pondering over it again and taking considerations that the question of the readers should be answered while Chong has never tried to conceal his past, I think Chong would not mind it even if I identify him. He is Chong Tong Sin.
Chong and another former ISA detainee Tan Kai Hee showed us how they overcame difficulties and challenges in opening a bright chapter of life even in a turbulent era and under a cruel and unfair environment.
The article does neither rationalise the ISA nor belittle other unfortunate ISA detainees.
On the contrary, Chong's and Tan's positive attitude has reflected the injustice of the ISA while showing us the unjust and brutal treatment received by many detainees.
I dare say that 99.9% of readers can understand such a way of presentation. However, 0.1% or 0.01% readers have might actually misinterpreted the article due to their limited ability to think or narrow-minded mentality.
There is a long article on the Internet criticising that Tay Tian Yan is using Chong and Tan while beautifying the ISA.
I dismissed the allegation with a laugh and believe that Chong and Tan have done the same.
I have criticised the ISA in many of my previous articles. As early as a decade ago, I have consistently criticised the Act, from the Operation Lalang to the use of the Act against Reformasi activists, as well as members of the opposition and journalists after the 2008 general election.
However, I do not need to repeat the criticism from the same angle, or the articles would no longer be profound and fail to provide new inspiration to readers.
Discussing the Act from a different angle can actually depict the absurdity of the ISA.
Just like after many directors have criticised the old German Nazism and Adolf Hitler's cruel eradication of the Jew, it has become a formula. Although they are politically right, they lack fresh ideas.
Moreover, we can hardly find a stronger and more tragic critical strength after Spielberg's Schindler's List and Polanski's The Pianist.
However, Italian director Roberto Benigni filmed Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella), a comedy telling stories in a Nazi concentration camp.
In the movie, a father and his five-year-old son were detained in a Nazi concentration camp. To eliminate his son's fear, the father told his son that the concentration camp was just a game, in which the first person to get 1,000 points won a tank.
The child believed it and enjoyed himself. He joyed through the hurried days and avoided the pains and suffering along the years in the camp.
Such an irony approach allows audiences to feel brutality and cruelness in the concentration camp more accurately, while reflecting the bright side of human nature. It is hilarious, yet touching.
The movie won the Oscar's Best Foreign Film and Best European Film. People might forget many anti-Nazi movies, but not this one.
Of course, some people could not understand the movie and criticised it for not condemning the Nazi, but denigrated the victims instead. Such a cognition is actually only a joke itself.