Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 1964 Racial Riots in pictures...part 2

The photos on this blogpost are courtesy from the National Archives website and are meant for online viewing only.
When racial riots broke out on the evening of Tuesday 21 July 1964 as a result of a huge Muslim procession that went out of hand, it essentially caught most people off guard. The general populace and the police had no inkling such a thing would happen on such an important day as the Prophet's birthday. But not to those who were behind it...the planners and the instigators who were out to do Singapore in. Our own Singapore leaders such as PM Lee Kuan Yew had quietly asked John Le Cain the Commisioner of Police and George Bogaars, Head of Special Branch for their assessment on whether anything would happen on 21 July 1964. The police replied in the negative while Special Branch had received unconfirmed reports that the Malays in the southern and city areas were expecting TROUBLE on that day and they were told to wait FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.
What were the major causes of these racial rioting?
The question is easy but the answer is not.
To fully comprehend the scale and complexity of the situation, one would have to go back to the period before 16 September 1963...that was when we formally "joined" the Federation of Malaysia. And from that date, the ultra racial politics of UMNO in Singapore vs the Malaysian Malaysia approach of the PAP.

Many books have devoted chapters to the Racial Riots and their probable causes. There are also official reports from neutral people...ambassadors, high commisioners, journalists, writers, researchers all giving their honest assessment of the situation.
It is not my intention here to find or provide probable cause.
It will take up far too much time and space.
But I may point out certain things to....separate fact from fiction so that our own Singaporeans of whatever background will understand better and not suffer from gossips and hearsays of the other side. And when I do so, I will quote from official reputable books or journals by reputable persons with full details.

Acting M'sian PM Abdul Razak and S'pore Dy PM Dr Goh
Keng Swee visiting the Malay Kampongs in Geylang Serai,
July 1964.

This was the Joo Chiat open market area when curfew was lifted
in the morning.
July 1964

Houses that were affected by arson and destruction in Kg
Melayu area.

Many cars, lorries, buses and taxis were overturned and burnt.

The Geylang Police Station at the junction of Geylang Road, Guillemard
Road and Paya Lebar Road.
July 1964.

Curfew was lifted for about 3 hours so people can go out to buy
whatever they needed. That was also the time when many people
got whacked and some killed.

Rubbish and refuse removal was suspended. So they just piled
up everywhere.

Police and military soldiers were on active duty. The internal security
of S'pore was handed by KL ( we were in M'sia then). They had full control.
But again like the time of the Maria Hertogh riots, there were serious allegations
of biased policing and abuses. Many of these FRU ( Federal Reserve Unit) were
recruited from across the causeway.

No one was safe and definitely no vehicle too.


jlow said...

Uncle Dick, part 3 please!

unk Dicko said...

Part 3 and Part 4 will be coming out shortly.
In part 3, I will attempt to trace HOW the actual incidents began near the Kallang Gasworks, who were the "shadowy figures" who were involved, what years of investigation had proven.
In Part 4, I will separate fact from fiction and focus on some of the MAIN CAUSES behind the rioting. No need to guess too was NOT Religion neither was it Racial differences between Chinese, Malay or Indians.
Religion, Race, Language and Culture were issues that were EXPLOITED by those ULTRAS and RACIALISTS from just one POLITICAL party and further manipulated by their subservient crony organisations.

Thimbuktu said...

"EXPLOITED by those ULTRAS and RACIALISTS from just one POLITICAL party and further manipulated by their subservient crony organisations".

A painful history lesson for the peace of a multi-racial country and the importance of harmony for all peoples, ever conscious and heedful. The peace-loving people have to be careful of fanatics of a minor group of self-interest and ulterior motives through exploitation.

peter said...

Politicians as they are, won't survive if there are no issues to fan - regardless who they are. Politicians need to stroke issues of major concern to people. Thus the study of political sceinece differes from the study of history.

The important lesson for all of us to recognize that politicians exist everywhere, not necessary in politics but in trade unions, religions, societies, schools and even families.

Issue # 1:

Singapore in the 1960s was in the midst of unemployment and a housing problem. The government saw it necessary to implement legislations that would evict people as part of of its first 5-Year Building Plan to build housing units under the HDB. The Kallang Basin area (between Lavender Street and Aljuneid Road) was identified as one area. For today's generations if you are not aware of Kallang Basin's history, there was no Upper Boon Keng Road, no HDB flats (behind Kallang MRT Station) nor JTC flatted factories in Kallang Basin in those days. The whole place was a swamp and occupied by Malays. The Malays were compensated with $300 for moving expenses but found the HDB rental flats more than what they could afford - each Malay family earned $42/month.

This was a lesson that our HDB later learn when you resettle people you can't do it with a bureaucratic approach. The next time HDB resettled those tenants and families who once lived in the Kreta Ayer Road, Sago Lane and Banda Street to Chin Swee Road, they had learnt their lesson.

Issue # 2:

Singapore when it joined Malaysia was offered 15 Federal seats which were taken by the PAP because it was the party that control Singapore. Likewise when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaysia, they too got those Federal seats (So that it why UMNO depends on its Sarawak and Sabah Barisan Nasional partners to survive in the Malaysian Parliament today against Anwar Ibrahim's PKR which has PR, DAP and PAS)

There was an agreement that Singapore's PAP would not contest the Federal Elections in West Malaysia in April 1964 but we eventually did with Devan Nair winning Bungsar Constituency. The PAP lost 8 in that elections.

Issue # 3:

The PAP won the hearts of the Malay community in Singapore in the 1963 General Elections. The biggest losers were UMNO, Partai Rakyat Singapura and MCA. The UMNO and MCA at that time were component parties under Lim Yew Hock's Singapore Alliance Party. Only the Barisan Socialis (which split form the PAP) came through as second best winning a number of constituencies. This was a shock to "Abang" as Uncle Dicko calls it. So Khir Johari the Malaysian minister was made the head of Singapore UMNO.

Do read these books by:

Kwa Chong Guan - The Value of oral Testimony"

Nancy McHenry - "The Separation of Singapore from Malaysia"

Mohd Noordin Soopie - "From Malayan Union to Singapore separation"

Pang Cheng Lian - "Singapore's People's Action Party"

Zainuddin Maidin _ "Di Sebalik Jendela Utusan: Surat Keramt Ulangtahun Utusan Melayu Bhd".

Housing & Development Board Annual Report 1961.