Sunday, July 18, 2010

Racial Riots or Racial Harmony...Your Choice! Part 2

This is the double page spread of the story and interview which appears on Page 10 and 11 of MIX Magazine July 2010 issue.
Titled " Different Races, Same Kampong ".
It was written by Justin Zhuang the Deputy Editor of the same Magazine.
Photos were also done by him.


To read, simply click on the picture and it will enlarge automatically.



This is the first portion of the article on page 10


This is the 2nd portion of the article on page 11.
Next blog...a close up look at the inside pages of my diary.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, Mr Yip, what a brave and quick thinking young fella you were then, coming to the help of your Indian friend. Looking at our present state, it would be hard for anyone to imagine that racial riots could have taken place in Spore. It is our wish that racial harmony and respect for fellow beings will prevail in Spore eternally. Victoria School was an oasis of racial tranquility during the turbulent period, with students of all races interacting very well, studying and playing together "To keep our flag unfurled." VS, from what is widely known, has remained true to its ethos to this day. Nil Sine Labore!

unk Dicko said...

Victoria School was truly something more and cosmopolitan back then. We were all colour and even religion blind. All we ever thought about were the School Flag, the School motto...NIL SINE LABORE ,...yes! and fellow Victorians!
About the rescue of "Mat" my kampong friend, I think it was fate. Later,
he and other Chinese,Malay and Indian kampong friends were invited to my wedding nearly 40 years ago.

Icemoon said...

Uncle Dicko, was your examination in mid-afternoon?

From reading Othman Wok's account, I get the impression trouble started slightly after 3pm, at Kallang Bridge. By the time news reached your school, should be near to 4pm?

Didn't know your school was so near the epicenter of the riot.

unk Dicko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
unk Dicko said...

Icemoon,
There were 2 separate periods of Racial riots. The very 1st time it happened on Tuesday, 21 JULY 1964...it was a public Holiday. Why?
Prophet Mohd's Birthday. So, no school that day.
That day, by 3 pm a crowd of 25,000 Malays/muslims had gathered at the PADANG. It was meant to be peaceful and so it was ( until 2 hours later ).
Trouble only started just after 5 pm at Lor Soopoo, near Kallang Gasworks.
This were collectively labelled as the 1st incidents.
It spread very quickly. At Lor 3,Geylang Rd opp to former Gay World, the fighting is major. The rioters were hell-bent on destruction of stalls, shops, property and whacking Chinese. The Chinese retaliated as best to protect themselves. Rampage continued all the way to where I lived...Lorong 40, Geylang.
The entire kampong was yelling and screaming..people running helter-skelter, everywhere!
I was watching a TV circus show (B/w then) but rushed out to the main road to assess and check what was really happening.
Remember all you modern people today, back in 1964, we did not have handphones or any communicating device with us. Only some homes have the old telephones. Most homes also without fridge or washing machines or a 100 modern appliances we take for granted today!
No way to know what was happening except to check with my own eyes.
It was around 5.45 pm when I witnessed the rampaging rioters at Geylang Rd. They did not enter our Lorong..but destroyed, looted and burned and whacked along the main road of Geylang.
That night curfew was imposed at 9.30 pm.
Schools were ordered closed until 16 Aug. We started school again on 17 Aug.
But BIG trouble resumed on September 4the third day of our Final Term Exams.
In the midst of our Health Science Paper..not finished yet, near or just past noon, suddenly many parents appeared outside our exam rooms and called out to my classmates.." Come out! Come out! Go Home now! repeatedly".
That day, unknown to most of us as students then, the Govt had announced suddenly around noon by radio and tel that a CURFEW will start at 2.30 pm....because of serious fighting again.

Don't blame you for the mix up of time period.
My coming blogposts based on my dairy records will give very detailed info.

Icemoon said...

Thanks for the clarification, Uncle Dicko.

Aiyoh, I think the magazine could have done a better job. They put your personal account beside your diary account. But the former was on Sep 4, while the latter was July 21. The 21 Tue date was so prominent. Of course we try to link both accounts together :P

unk Dicko said...

Not to worry lah.
Readers will see a proper chronology for the 1964 riots in my coming blogposts.
In addition, lots of insights into that period stretching from 21 July right to the the September riots again and beyond.
This will be helpful for students who may be doing research for their NE or History projects.
It will include photos too.

maree said...

Will love to see article when I'm over Dick. How wonderful that you have a written & oral history of these times. See you soon!

unk Dicko said...

Can't wait to meet up again Maree!
Btw...so sorry to hear that dear, beloved Millie has passed on.
So, this year alone, we share some broken hearts.

peter said...

The procession through Kallang Road (Lor Soopoo) which sparked the riots was not simply a case of someone throwing an acid bottle. It only provided the excuse for starting the fight. One has to examine the "background actors" behind the riots.

For example:

1. The Kallang Bahru area was "no man's land". The Chinese Secret Societies occupied the Gay World area and all the lorongs up to junction with Paya Lebar, and the Malay Secret Societies occupied Geylang Serai all the way to Paya Lebar junction (including Ubi) and the Kg Crawford areas. The Chinese SS occupied Lorong Tai Seng. Both Chinese and Malay were bent on occupying Kallang Bahru.

2. The Works Bridge was one of the elemnts who provided crowd control during the procession but were composed of x-SS members form Malay and Chinese communities. The ones allocated for procession were Malays who axe to grind with the government bcos of poor pay and living conditions - Works Brigade was created by PAP

3. There was a Police Reserve Unit from Singapore who comprise all-Chinese under ang mo ASP. They were on crowd control that day. The Singapore Police Reserve Unit must not be confused with the Federal Reserve Unit who were from KL and who were later despatch to Singapore. I cannot remember the number of units sent down but they were housed at Queenstown Base now our police tactical team base.

4. Also there were Javanese elements from Indonesia who hid behind the Malays to stir trouble. At that time we had Confrontation with Indoensia.

So what Uncle Dicko said about rampage was bcos the Malay SS entered the Chinese sector.

peter said...

The P Mohd procession which errupted into a riot was an event waiting to happen.

1. Geylang Serai and Ubi were strongholds of the Malay secret scoeities. The Chinese SS occupied all lorongs from Paya Lebar down to Gay World. "No Man's Land" whichwas the subject of the gang clash between Malay SS and Chinese SS wa sover the Kallang Bahru territory.

2. The Works Brigade on duty during the procession were Malays. The Works Brigade was a PAP creation to reform x-SS members. The Police Reserve Unit on duty that day were Chinese (later of course reinforced by the Federal Reserve Units from KL and Malacca who were mainly Malays).

3. The Indonesian illegal immigrants - the Javanese - who took cover among Singapore Malays. Indoensia was at war with Singapore bcos we were part of Malaysia.

So all the actors were on stage that day which turned into a riot.

When you have provocateurs, loose mouth canons and instigators, the ground was ripe for a riot. Our government is right to keep a close watch on extremists and deviants in our Singapore religions - be they Islam, Hindus or evangelistic Christians. I doubt anybody wants to go back to 1964.

unk Dicko said...

Peter..your historical understanding and assessment of the '64 riots as a layman is above average!
You have a better grasp than most people I know.
After more than 4 decades of deep research and especially with direct oral interviews with important key persons involved in those years ( 1963 -1965), many biographies, books, reports have pin-pointed the MAIN CAUSES and contributory factors that led to what you have stated so rightly..." an event waiting to happen".
I may share some of this " MUST KNOW and MUST TELL" reasons just to SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT..so that in future our younger population as well as those who want to indulge in politics..may fully understand and therfore NEVER to use or exploit the potential destructive danger of playing the RACE and RELIGION cards...esp not in this tiny paradise island of ours.

Thimbuktu said...

Thanks to Unk Dicko to revive the memories of a past pleasant racial history of Singapore, based on the first person record from his personal diaries, written his feelings, thoughts and perspective of how he had written. This is a grim reminder for Singaporeans to understand that peace and order in a multi-racial society cannot be taken for granted. The Harmony Day in Singapore is necessary for younger Singaporeans to learn the tumultuous and turbulent period of Singapore past, a lesson of a nation from history.

Unk Dicko's series of blogs and the MIX Magazine, July 2010 issue.
titled " Different Races, Same Kampong " from his personal diaries has inspired me to blog on "Colour of Harmony" (1 & 2) .

unk Dicko said...

Thanks for your own inspiration James.
Though peace and order in S'pore has largely prevailed since those rioting years...it does not mean there were a total abscence of racial or religious flareups or incidents that could have the potential of starting another racial/religious riot.
From time to time, if you remember, some incidents of a racial/religious nature make it to the news...mostly caused by ordinary people, in the heat of the moment, uttering some racially sensitive slurs or diaparaging remarks against one another...that could have provided the kind of "spark" for another flareup.
Most of such incidents never made it to the news...for obvious reasons.
Even our schools are not free from it.
In some related posts, I might share a couple of such incidents of how serious the "incidents" were ...if they had not been properly handled or if I had not been able to convince the "racial firestarters" about the LAW.