Chapter Six

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Published on March 22, 2008

Author: theracie

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How did the local people respond to British rule after WWII?

chapter six How did the local people respond to British rule after WWII?

Lesson Objectives The response of the local people to British rule Steps taken by the British government to prepare Singapore for limited self-government The Maria Hertogh Riots and the anti-National Service Riots (the reasons and impact)

The response of the local people to British rule

Steps taken by the British government to prepare Singapore for limited self-government

The Maria Hertogh Riots and the anti-National Service Riots (the reasons and impact)

Effects of post-war Conditions What were some of the post-war conditions that the people faced? Strikes Change in political attitudes towards the British

What were some of the post-war conditions that the people faced?

Strikes

Change in political attitudes towards the British

The Strikes The poor living conditions during the post-war period explained why there were numerous strikes and work stoppages by thousands of workers from the factories, port, transport and business companies. More than 300 strikes by almost 70, 000 workers were held in 1947 (‘The Year of Strikes’)

The poor living conditions during the post-war period explained why there were numerous strikes and work stoppages by thousands of workers from the factories, port, transport and business companies.

More than 300 strikes by almost 70, 000 workers were held in 1947 (‘The Year of Strikes’)

The Strikes With the involvement of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) , these strikes worsened. The communists were able to stir up anti-British sentiment through the trade unions. This was easily achieved by blaming the British for the post-war problems. The communists also goaded the workers to join Communist-controlled trade unions to fight for higher pay and better working conditions .

With the involvement of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) , these strikes worsened. The communists were able to stir up anti-British sentiment through the trade unions.

This was easily achieved by blaming the British for the post-war problems. The communists also goaded the workers to join Communist-controlled trade unions to fight for higher pay and better working conditions .

Change in political attitudes towards the British Those who were concerned about the future of Singapore changed their attitude towards the British government. They felt that since the British ruled Singapore for over a hundred years and yet failed to protect, they should, therefore, leave Singapore.

Those who were concerned about the future of Singapore changed their attitude towards the British government.

They felt that since the British ruled Singapore for over a hundred years and yet failed to protect, they should, therefore, leave Singapore.

Change in political attitudes towards the British The transformation of respect to disdain for the British was partly due to external events . After the Japanese Occupation, many countries shook off the chains of colonial rule and attained independence. One example was India, the largest colony of the British Empire. Significance: The Japanese Occupation had shattered all notions of British superiority and increased the local people’s desire to govern themselves.

The transformation of respect to disdain for the British was partly due to external events . After the Japanese Occupation, many countries shook off the chains of colonial rule and attained independence.

One example was India, the largest colony of the British Empire.

Significance: The Japanese Occupation had shattered all notions of British superiority and increased the local people’s desire to govern themselves.

British action Strikes  Control of trade unions Change in political attitudes towards the British  Implementation of political changes

Strikes  Control of trade unions

Change in political attitudes towards the British  Implementation of political changes

Control of Trade Unions Upon realizing that the strikes were organised by the communists to create disorder, the British government passed laws to control trade unions. This took effect from 1947. Significance: The government was able to monitor the membership of unions and ensure that money was not used for communist activities

Upon realizing that the strikes were organised by the communists to create disorder, the British government passed laws to control trade unions.

This took effect from 1947.

Significance: The government was able to monitor the membership of unions and ensure that money was not used for communist activities

Implementation of Political Changes The British had no intention to give up complete control over Singapore after the Japanese Occupation. However, they knew that they would eventually have to transfer some political power to the people. To win the support of the people, the British decided to implement gradual change .

The British had no intention to give up complete control over Singapore after the Japanese Occupation. However, they knew that they would eventually have to transfer some political power to the people.

To win the support of the people, the British decided to implement gradual change .

1948 Election The British allowed some locals to be elected into the Legislative Council . For the first time, the people were able to have some choice in deciding who was going to represent them in government. Although the 1948 election was the first sign of progress towards democracy, it was extremely low-key. A mere 13, 800 people voted out of a population of 940, 000. This was partly because many were not eligible to vote.

The British allowed some locals to be elected into the Legislative Council . For the first time, the people were able to have some choice in deciding who was going to represent them in government.

Although the 1948 election was the first sign of progress towards democracy, it was extremely low-key. A mere 13, 800 people voted out of a population of 940, 000. This was partly because many were not eligible to vote.

1948 Election Only those born in Singapore were eligible and others chose not to take part in the election since voting was on a voluntary basis. Not many parties contested in the election. Only the Singapore Progressive Party (SPP) took part in the 1948 election. SPP won three out of six elected seats in the Legislative Council. The other three seats were won by Independents .

Only those born in Singapore were eligible and others chose not to take part in the election since voting was on a voluntary basis.

Not many parties contested in the election. Only the Singapore Progressive Party (SPP) took part in the 1948 election.

SPP won three out of six elected seats in the Legislative Council. The other three seats were won by Independents .

1948 Election The structure of the government in Singapore evolved as a result. The SPP worked closely with the British government in the Legislative Council. The party fought for equal treatment of local and European civil servants . The SPP introduced proposals to provide financial security for workers in their retirement or for those who were no longer able to work . However, the SPP was not popular among the Chinese-educated due to its composition of English-educated members. This made it pro-British and it was not in hurry to press the British for more changes since it believed in self-government.

The structure of the government in Singapore evolved as a result.

The SPP worked closely with the British government in the Legislative Council. The party fought for equal treatment of local and European civil servants .

The SPP introduced proposals to provide financial security for workers in their retirement or for those who were no longer able to work .

However, the SPP was not popular among the Chinese-educated due to its composition of English-educated members. This made it pro-British and it was not in hurry to press the British for more changes since it believed in self-government.

do-whatever-you-want break . your one minute begins now.

Riots in the 1950s This marked a turbulent period in Singapore’s history as many social and economic problems caused the people to be discontented with British rule . Possible reasons for riots: Social (poor housing, low standard of living), Political (communist involvement/influence) and Racial (Insensitive government decisions)

This marked a turbulent period in Singapore’s history as many social and economic problems caused the people to be discontented with British rule .

Possible reasons for riots: Social (poor housing, low standard of living), Political (communist involvement/influence) and Racial (Insensitive government decisions)

Maria Hertogh Riots

Maria Hertogh Riots During the tense period, there was widespread coverage of the custody battle in the English, Malay and Tamil papers. This fueled the anger in the races . On 11 December 1950, large crowds gathered outside the court at the Padang to await the verdict. The judge rejected Che Aminah’s appeal for custody of Maria.

During the tense period, there was widespread coverage of the custody battle in the English, Malay and Tamil papers. This fueled the anger in the races .

On 11 December 1950, large crowds gathered outside the court at the Padang to await the verdict. The judge rejected Che Aminah’s appeal for custody of Maria.

Maria Hertogh Riots Many Europeans and Eurasians were attacked, as it was believed that they were responsible for Maria’s plight. Many vehicles were also burned. It was a sign of the growing unhappiness with British rule in Singapore and with the failure of the British to be sensitive to the feelings of the Muslims . The riots continued for three days and a curfew was imposed for two weeks. Troops were called in to maintain law and order . By the third day, the situation stabilized. About 18 people were killed and 173 were injured during the riot.

Many Europeans and Eurasians were attacked, as it was believed that they were responsible for Maria’s plight. Many vehicles were also burned.

It was a sign of the growing unhappiness with British rule in Singapore and with the failure of the British to be sensitive to the feelings of the Muslims .

The riots continued for three days and a curfew was imposed for two weeks. Troops were called in to maintain law and order . By the third day, the situation stabilized. About 18 people were killed and 173 were injured during the riot.

Anti-NS riots

Anti-NS riots In 1954, the government introduced National Service, which required all males aged between 18 and 20 to register for part time military service. Offenders who failed to register would be jailed or fined . National Service was not popular with secondary students from Chinese schools. The influence of the communists in Chinese schools had stirred up anti-British feelings among the students. The students were not willing to defend a foreign government which ignored the Chinese students’ interests .

In 1954, the government introduced National Service, which required all males aged between 18 and 20 to register for part time military service. Offenders who failed to register would be jailed or fined .

National Service was not popular with secondary students from Chinese schools. The influence of the communists in Chinese schools had stirred up anti-British feelings among the students. The students were not willing to defend a foreign government which ignored the Chinese students’ interests .

Anti-NS riots Very few students from Chung Cheng High School and Chinese High school turned up on the first day of registration. On 13 May 1954, more than one thousand students gathered in front of the Government House to present their petition to the Governor. Soon, the peaceful demonstration turned violent when the police were called in to disperse the crowd. About 26 people were injured and 48 students were arrested.

Very few students from Chung Cheng High School and Chinese High school turned up on the first day of registration.

On 13 May 1954, more than one thousand students gathered in front of the Government House to present their petition to the Governor. Soon, the peaceful demonstration turned violent when the police were called in to disperse the crowd. About 26 people were injured and 48 students were arrested.

Other riots 1955 - Hock Lee Bus Riots 1956 – Singapore Chinese Middle School Students’ Union Riots

1955 - Hock Lee Bus Riots

1956 – Singapore Chinese Middle School Students’ Union Riots

Learning Lessons The period after the war was a trying time for Singapore as it struggled to recover economically from the war. Singapore was vulnerable to influences such as communism. The communists had taken advantage of the situation in Singapore to create disturbances.

The period after the war was a trying time for Singapore as it struggled to recover economically from the war. Singapore was vulnerable to influences such as communism. The communists had taken advantage of the situation in Singapore to create disturbances.

Learning Lessons The strikes and riots that broke out affected the post-war recovery of Singapore. We learn that when there are strikes and disorder, the whole country can be affected. People’s daily lives are upset, business is disrupted and the economy suffers. The period was also marked by racial tension when the different racials did not attempt to understand each other’s culture and customs. The Maria Hertogh Riot is an example showing the importance of this.

The strikes and riots that broke out affected the post-war recovery of Singapore. We learn that when there are strikes and disorder, the whole country can be affected. People’s daily lives are upset, business is disrupted and the economy suffers.

The period was also marked by racial tension when the different racials did not attempt to understand each other’s culture and customs. The Maria Hertogh Riot is an example showing the importance of this.

Preparations for limited self-government 1948 Elections The Rendel Constitution 1955 1955 Elections

1948 Elections

The Rendel Constitution 1955

1955 Elections

Preparations for limited self-government The British decided to grant more political power to the locals in 1953 in order to win the hearts and minds of the people . In July 1953, a commission, led by a British diplomat, Sir George Rendel , was formed to recommend possible changes to the constitution. The Rendel Constitution recommended limited self-government for Singapore. It proposed that certain powers of the government would be given to local leaders who were elected by the people .

The British decided to grant more political power to the locals in 1953 in order to win the hearts and minds of the people .

In July 1953, a commission, led by a British diplomat, Sir George Rendel , was formed to recommend possible changes to the constitution.

The Rendel Constitution recommended limited self-government for Singapore. It proposed that certain powers of the government would be given to local leaders who were elected by the people .

The Rendel Constitution Areas of Government under elected local ministers: Housing, Health, Trade and Industry, Education Areas of Government under nominated British ministers: Internal Security, External Defence, Law, Finance, External Affairs Significance: It was an important step to full self-government for Singapore despite its limitations. More political parties emerged, with two standing out – the Labour Front (LF) and the People’s Action Party (PAP).

Areas of Government under elected local ministers: Housing, Health, Trade and Industry, Education

Areas of Government under nominated British ministers: Internal Security, External Defence, Law, Finance, External Affairs

Significance: It was an important step to full self-government for Singapore despite its limitations.

More political parties emerged, with two standing out – the Labour Front (LF) and the People’s Action Party (PAP).

1955 Election 79 candidates contested 25 elected seats in the Legislative Assembly . The various political parties worked hard to stir up the public’s interest in the election and to win votes. This was done through house-to-house visits, distribution of newspapers and pamphlets, rallies and speeches . Because of the greater degree of self-government promised and the greater number of political parties represented, there was keen interest in this election .

79 candidates contested 25 elected seats in the Legislative Assembly .

The various political parties worked hard to stir up the public’s interest in the election and to win votes. This was done through house-to-house visits, distribution of newspapers and pamphlets, rallies and speeches .

Because of the greater degree of self-government promised and the greater number of political parties represented, there was keen interest in this election .

1955 Election The number of eligible voters had also increased significantly. The focus of many election campaigns was anti-colonialism. Unlike the SPP, the LF and the PAP targeted the Chinese-speaking majority . They succeeded in making the ordinary people believe that they could put an end to British colonial rule .

The number of eligible voters had also increased significantly.

The focus of many election campaigns was anti-colonialism. Unlike the SPP, the LF and the PAP targeted the Chinese-speaking majority . They succeeded in making the ordinary people believe that they could put an end to British colonial rule .

1955 Election 160, 000 people turned up to vote on polling day The LF won 10 out of 25 seats. The LF had impressed Singaporeans with their strong anti-colonial stand and the charismatic leadership of David Marshall . David Marshall went on to become Singapore’s first chief minister.

160, 000 people turned up to vote on polling day

The LF won 10 out of 25 seats. The LF had impressed Singaporeans with their strong anti-colonial stand and the charismatic leadership of David Marshall . David Marshall went on to become Singapore’s first chief minister.

1955 Election The PAP, which fielded 4 candidates, won 3 seats. Significance: The outcome of the election proved that politics in Singapore had shifted from a pro-British stance to one that was strongly against colonial rule.

The PAP, which fielded 4 candidates, won 3 seats.

Significance: The outcome of the election proved that politics in Singapore had shifted from a pro-British stance to one that was strongly against colonial rule.

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