This website represents the efforts of a small group of Singaporeans to draw on the legacy of the original Barisan Sosialis, of pioneers like Lim Chin Siong and Said Zahari, to articulate a twenty-first century Singaporean socialism that benefits all and not just the privileged few. Why Barisan Sosialis? Because, now more than ever, we need a socialist front in Singapore. We are not bringing Barisan back as a political party, but rather as a platform for intersectional, socialist politics.
The original Barisan Sosialis was formed in 1961 by left-wing, anti-colonial socialists who were expelled from the increasingly authoritarian People’s Action Party (PAP). Barisan Sosialis emerged as the strongest opposition party, considered likely to win the 1963 elections.
However, several months before the elections, the PAP government and the British colonizers launched a series of mass arrests and detentions of leftist politicians and unionists (Operation Coldstore). This effectively crippled the Barisan Sosialis for good.
As Tan Jing Quee, who was among those arrested, later stated, “the two main pillars of the left-wing movement in Singapore, the Barisan Sosialis and SATU [Singapore Association of Trade Unions], were decapitated.”
The PAP has held Singapore in a stranglehold ever since Operation Coldstore. They and their cronies have profited obscenely on the backs of ordinary Singaporeans and severely exploited indentured foreign labour.
To continue to support the PAP is to continue to oppose the people. This is why we are bringing Barisan Sosialis back to life.