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Hwa Chong Institution. Chapter 7 How did the local people respond to British Rule after World War Two?. Post-War Conditions that affected the local people. Shortage of food Disruption of Water, Electricity and Gas Supplies Change of Currency Unemployment Shortage of Housing

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hwa chong institution

Hwa Chong Institution

Chapter 7

How did the local people respond to British Rule after World War Two?

post war conditions that affected the local people
Post-War Conditions that affected the local people
  • Shortage of food
  • Disruption of Water, Electricity and Gas Supplies
  • Change of Currency
  • Unemployment
  • Shortage of Housing
  • Poor Health Conditions
  • Disruption of Education


  • In spite of the efforts by the British Military Administration, many were inadequate and ineffective
  • Rapid population growth, food shortage, unemployment and poor housing continued well into the 1950s
  • Caused discontent and many became increasingly unhappy with British rule
political and socialchanges that affected the response of the local people
Political and SocialChanges that affected the response of the local people
  • What is Communism?
  • What is Nationalism?
  • Influence of Communism
  • Communist Activities 1945-1948
  • What is Communism?
  • A system of society where property belongs to the whole community
  • Each member work for the common good of the community according to his capacity and receiving according to his needs
  • However, since 1917, the term has come to denote those who regard the Russian Revolution as the model for all communists to follow
what is nationalism
What is Nationalism?
  • People began to have a sense of belonging to Singapore.
  • They felt that Singapore should be ruled by people that share the same interests and ideals for the country as their own.
  • Many people were influenced by nationalist leaders around Southeast Asia and Asia.
communist activities 1945 1948
  • Communist activities in Singapore and Malaya
  • Trade Unions, Chinese newspapers and student leaders in Chinese schools
  • Members : teachers and students in Chinese schools, Chinese workers

Lim Chin Siong

strikes and disorders
  • Stirred up feelings of the people
      • to demand higher rice rations and cheaper foodstuffs
  • Formed many trade unions
      • to demand for better working conditions and higher pay
      • influenced TU leaders to organise strikes
      • British way of dealing with strikes made the workers even angrier
singapore 1948 british views
  • Cautious about giving more power to the locals – unsure about loyalty.
  • Did not want to give up their control of Singapore because of investments in the country.
  • Singapore was still useful as a free port and a military base
  • Singapore still faced threat from the communists
1948 elections gradual change
1948 Elections – Gradual Change
  • British feared that rejection of the people’s demands might lead to a revolution.
  • They decided to transfer some power to the people.
  • Look at the chart in the next slide to understand the gradual changes made to the government from 1948-1955.
rendel constitution 1954
Rendel Constitution 1954
  • In 1953 the colonial government appointed Sir George Rendel to head a commission to review the Singapore constitution
  • The commission recommended partial internal self-government for Singapore, with Britain retaining control of internal security, law, finance, defense, and foreign affairs.
1955 elections
1955 Elections
  • Although the new constitution was a long way from offering Singapore full independence, election fever gripped the country as new political alliances and parties were formed.
the labour front
The Labour Front
  • Lim Yew Hock and a prominent lawyer, David Marshall, formed a new political party, the Labour Front, in July 1954.
  • Under the leadership of Marshall, a staunch anti-colonialist, the party campaigned for:
  • immediate independence within a merged Singapore and Malaya,
  • Malayanization of the civil service within four years (by which time local officials would take over from colonial officials)
the labour front1
The Labour Front

First Chief Minister, David Marshall

Lim Yew Hock, the Second Chief Minister

the peoples action party
The Peoples Action Party
  • The party was formed by a group of British-educated, middle- class Chinese who had returned to Singapore in the early 1950s after studying in Britain. Led by twenty-five-year-old Lee Kuan Yew, as secretary general, Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee, and S. Rajaratnam.
the peoples action party1
The Peoples Action Party
  • They shared similar goals with the Labour Front but they concluded this could be accomplished only with support from the Chinese-educated public and the communist-controlled trade unions.
  • The PAP, calculating that a united front with the communists was necessary to end colonialism, declared itself noncommunist, neither pro- nor anticommunist, preferring to put off until after independence any showdown with the communists.
in the meantime on the streets of singapore
In the Meantime… on the streets of Singapore….
  • Due to the unhappiness of the local people, many strikes and riots broke out between 1948 to 1955.
  • Among the two most prominent ones were:
  • The Maria Hertogh Riots (1950)
  • The Anti-National Service Riots (1954)
maria hertogh riots 1950
  • Riots broke out between 11 and 13 Dec 1950 over a 13-year old Eurasian girl named MARIA BERTHA HERTOGH
  • Born in 1937 to Dutch parents in Java
  • Parents captured by Japanese during WWII
  • A Malay woman, CHE AMINAH, and her husband looked after Maria
  • Brought her up as a Muslim and named her NADRA
maria hertogh riots 19501
  • With the defeat of Japan, Maria’s mother was released
  • Unable to locate her daughter in Java
  • Finally found Maria in 1949 and wanted to claim her back
  • Dutch Consul-General requested Maria to be put under the care of the Social Welfare Dept in Singapore
  • Maria’s case was brought to the legal court in Singapore
maria hertogh riots 19502
  • May 1950 : Court ruled that Maria be returned to her natural parents
  • Che Aminah opposed and sent in an appeal
  • 2 months later, the court returned Maria to Che Aminah
maria hertogh riots 19503
  • When Maria was 13 years old and under Che Aminah’s care, she married a Malay teacher
  • Nov 1950 : Judge did not recognised the marriage
  • Returned Maria to her Dutch parents who put her in a Catholic convent
  • Muslim community was upset; felt that Muslim law was not respected
maria hertogh riots 19504
  • Next two months : many newspaper articles on Maria
  • Stirred up feelings of anger among the Muslims
  • Che Aminah appealed again in Dec 1950 but was turned down
maria hertogh riots 19505
  • Many Singapore Muslims felt betrayed by what they saw as the British taking the side of the Dutch
  • The court order was seen as a direct attack on Islam by a court under Christian control
  • After the verdict was announced on 11 Dec 1950, a large crowd of mainly Malays outside the Padang starting rioting
maria hertogh riots 19507
  • Many Europeans were attacked. Many vehicles burned
  • A sign of growing unhappiness with British rule in Singapore
  • Also a sign of British failure of British to be sensitive to the feelings of Muslims


  • Besides the workers, the communists also concentrated on getting the support of students from Chinese-medium schools
  • Situation in Chinese-medium schools
  • Why were the students unhappy?
  • By the 1950s, anti-British feelings among the students grew stronger
  • They started strikes and supported many strikes organised by workers


  • A good example of how the communists stirred up anti-government feelings among Chinese-educated students
  • May 1954 : Chinese students demonstrated against the British government’s decision to make young men aged 18 to 20 do part-time national service
      • Many were above 20 as their education had been disrupted by the war
      • Not willing to defend a government they were trying to drive out
  • Demonstration led to rioting and police had to put down the riots
lessons learnt
  • Whole country can be affected by strikes, disorder and riots
  • People’s lives are upset; business disrupted; economy suffers
  • Today, 40 years after it faded into history, the Maria Hertogh provides us with timely reminder of how easily a society can be torn apart by the unwise handling of sensitive issues.
  • Maria Hertogh Riots show us how important it is to know, learn and appreciate the culture and customs of other races