Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unk Dicko talked about the Racial Riots at Gongshang Pri School

It was sometime last week when I received an email from Mdm Sharifa from Gongshang Primary School, in Tampines, expressing her excitement and surprise when she saw the feature article in MIX Magazine and asking me whether I had seen it yet. No, I had not received it yet. She then arranged for it to be delivered to me personally!
On behalf of her school and principal, she invited me to be the guest speaker at their Racial Harmony Week talk about the 1964 Racial Riots based on my story in MIX Magazine as well as my diary.
So on Monday 19 July 2010, for about 4o minutes, the staff and students of this school got to hear first hand about what transpired on that fateful day that is now officially observed as RACIAL HARMONY DAY annually. That fateful day was 21 JULY 1964...a day that changed our outlook and history forever.
Since my main audience are primary school kids, I chose the story-telling approach with the article and my blog flashed on the large screen as backdrop.
Before I started, I was curious as to how many pupils actually subscribed to the Magazine. So asking for a show of hands, I was pleasantly surprised that the majority thrust their hands sky high. Justin Zhuang and his editorial team from MIX should be pleased!
My story also touched on the 2nd incidence of rioting in early September 1964 and what life was like under police and military curfew.
The kids were superbly well-behaved and attentive throughout the talk, responding well when I asked some questions in humour. Like what?
" Since there was rioting and big trouble what happened to school days, well anyone? "
" No school. Holidays lah! "...they chorused.
" Is that good? "
" Very Good lah!" They rang out with much laughter. The staff and unk Dicko laughed with them. Haha!
However, when I described a little of what I saw during the rioting and the fear, anxiety and helplessness of those dark and terrible days...I could sense by their stillness and quietness that I had achieved the effect.
The talk may be about the Racial Riots but the reality today and over the last 46 years is about how to build on Racial and Religious Harmony through a culture of respect for one another, better understanding and tolerance between all stakeholders in Singapore.
And on that note, I ended my talk to these wonderful kids from Gongshang.
I would like to thank Mdm Sharifa, the Principal, VP, staff and pupils of the school for allowing me to share the historical importance of that July 21 day and its aftermath, with them and helping to raise everyone's level of awareness.

The pupils of Gongshang Primary on 19 July 2010 in the School
hall facing me on stage.
The lively kids of Gongshang

They were very appreciative and knew how to show it!

An eyewitness and survivor of the riots with Mdm Sharifa.


Anonymous said...

This is an excellent civic lesson for the young students to learn about the fallout from a breakdown in inter racial relationship and the importance of keeping racial harmony intact in our society of diverse ethnicities, religions and cultures. Reading the account of Dick's talk and seeing the photo of the students in rapt attention, it would seem that the message has been put across. Dick must be thanked for this, and the teacher too, for inviting him to give the talk.

unk Dicko said...

Thank you "Anonymous" for your observations and conclusion.
My 6th sense tells me I might know you from somewhere, somehow.