Dr. Chia Thye Poh

Dr. Chia Thye Poh, a former teacher and politician, became known best for serving one of the world’s longest sentences as a political prisoner. A member of Singapore’s opposition party in the 1960’s, Thye Poh was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for alleged pro-communist activities. He was sentenced without charge or trial. Refusing to sign a forced confession implicating him in violent acts which he did not condone, Dr. Chia spent 23 years in prison followed by 9 additional years under house arrest before his full freedom was finally restored. Following Thye Poh’s release, he called for an immediate repeal of the ISA. In 2011 he was awarded the Lim Lian Geok Spirit Award. Dr. Chia was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015, cited as being an inspiration for activists speaking up for political and other freedoms.

Illustration by Anne Di Lillo

Singapore

Even as the days of his imprisonment blurred together, Dr. Chia Thye Poh’s hold on his integrity and commitment to non-violence remained in clear focus. In this portrait, his iconic thick-framed glasses sit amongst a sea of tic marks, representing his long years in confinement.

Total Area
719 km2 (176th)

Demonym
Singaporean

Government
Unitary dominant-party parliamentary republic

Population
5,751,191

Capital
Singapore

GDP (PPP)
$82,762 (3rd)