SBQ CCK Sec Maria Hertogh Riots “Who or what was to blame for the Maria Hertogh Riots?”
Contextual knowledge: 3 groups which contributed to the riots. • British (Insensitivity: Putting Maria in convent + threw out Aminah’s appeal after 15 mins) + incompetence • Media (English + Malay language newspapers: aggravate the situation.) • Malay nationalist leaders (Karim Ghani – Nadra Action Committee)
Question 1a: Study Source A.What is the message of this cartoon? EYA. • Testing Inference. Need to close the question using the issue: “Who or what was to blame or the Maria Hertogh Riots?” • The message of the source was that the British were to blame for the Maria Hertogh riots. L2/2 • This can be seen from the hand carrying the weights in the background, which is a symbol of justice. The author seems to be saying that the British legal system was to blame as it made the Maria Hertogh issue out to be a religious one by bringing in the religion of her father – Christianity, as being the basis for which they renounced any claims of her being a Muslim, as she was still a minor and therefore was legally still under the protection of her parents. Moreover, it may be making an allusion to the British decision to keep Maria in a convent while the custody battle was still on-going. L3/3
Question 1a • Moreover, that the religious element contributed to the riots can be seen from the artist’s depiction of the two paths, one leading to a church and the other leading to a mosque that Maria had to choose between. L3/4 • The perspective of the source is largely one-sided as it simplifies the Maria Hertogh to be that of a religious conflict that was caused by the insensitivity of the British legal system. It has not considered other perspectives, such as the role played by Malay nationalists, or that of the Media in sensationalisng the issue. The fact that the cartoonist portrays Maria in traditional costume also betrays its bias in that it regards Maria as being a thoroughly Muslim girl, who therefore should not be put in a convent, nor given back to her non-Muslim parents. L4/5
Question 1a • As the cartoon is from the Melayu Raya, a Malay newspaper and was published after the riots, its purpose is to attribute blame to the British legal system for its insensitivity in handling the situation, that aggravated the issue from a private custody battle to a public racial riot, so as to absolve the Malay community (the nationalists and media included) of any blame. L5/6
Question 1b: Study Source BCan you believe what this source says about the Maria Hertogh case? • Testing Reliability. Look at source in question (perspective), before going on to cross-ref. • No, I cannot believe what this source says about the Maria Hertogh case, as it exaggerates the situation, and therefore is not truthful. L3/2 • It uses extreme words such as “tragic” and also adds that Maria’s marriage had provoked “VERY critical comments amongst ALL communities” and is thus guilty of sensationalising the case, and giving it so much prominence that the whole situation was blown out of proportions. L3/3
Question 1b • Moreover, although Source B gives the impression that its stand was supported by the Malay community, Source C shows otherwise. There is a clear contrast between the comment made by the Straits Times in Source B that Maria’s case had caused “very critical comments among all communities, including the more responsible members of the Malay community” and that of Source C which says that “the Straits Times, sensationalised the marriage news of Maria Hertogh” and had “reported the event carelessly”, thus provoking the Muslim Community. L4/4
Question 1b • Moreover, in contrast to Source B which says that the “more responsible members of the Malay community” were against Maria’s marriage, source E states that “MANY Muslims in Singapore believed in the legitimacy of…her marriage to a Malay teacher.” • Thus it is clear that Source B is not to be believed as it is contradicted by two neutral sources.
Question 1b • Finally, Source B cannot be believed as it has a hidden agenda in wanting to exaggerate the situation. As it is a newspaper, its purpose is to sensationalise the news of Maria’s marriage, so as to gain increased readership, and by extension more profits. However, what it did was extremely irresponsible, and therefore cannot be believed.
Study Sources 1c and 1dHow similar are these sources as evidence about the Maria Hertogh Riots? EYA • Must provide both similarities and differences. Common criteria. • The sources are similar as evidence about the Maria Hertogh riots as both blame the media for contributing to the outbreak of the riots by misrepresenting the actual situation. L2/2 • Source C reveals that “the Straits Times sensationalised the marriage news of Maria Hertogh” and had “reported the event carelessly” thus provoking the Muslim community into resorting to violent means • Source D also blames the media, and says that “the Malay newspapers became deeply involved and were considered to have substantially contributed to the outbreak of the riots.” L3/3
Question 1c • However, they differ in their attribution of specific blame and degree of responsibility to the different parties. • Source C pins the blame on the English language newspapers, but Source D blames the Malay newspapers. In addition, Source C while blaming the Straits Times seem to suggest that by reporting the situation ‘carelessly’ it was an ultimately an oversight or a miscalculation on their part, as they did not intend for violence to break out. However, Source D seems to suggest that the Malay newspapers, being ‘deeply involved’ were being used by the radical Malay nationalists as ‘a convenient issue’ for increasing people’s resentment against the British. This would suggest that the actions of the nationalists were pre-meditiated, and that they had expected violence to break out, which would help undermine the political authority of the British. L3/4
Question 1c • Ultimately, the purpose of the sources are similar, as they both do not have hidden agendas, despite having one-sided perspectives and therefore are similar as evidence in that both can be believed. L4/5 • Although the historian only blames the English language newspapers, it is moderate in its attribution of blame, as it says that the Straits Times reported carelessly, but implies that it was unintended, and did not pin the blame solely on the paper. L4/6 • Moreover, although the writer in Source D is one-sided in that it blames only the Malay newspapers, it however substantiates its point by pinning the blame on the radical Malay nationalists. That this source can be believed and has no hidden agenda can be seen from the fact that this was written by a Malay writer, who would have no reason to report unfavourably on his own community, unless he really found irrefutable evidence pointing towards the culpability of the Malay nationalists and newspapers. L4/7
Study Source E. How useful is this source in helping you understand why the Maria Hertogh Riots took place? EYA • This Source is useful to a limited extent in helping me to understand why the Maria Hertogh riots took place. • It is useful as it mentions that the Maria Hetogh case was centred around the issues of her adoption by Che Aminah and complicated by her marriage to a Malay teacher. It also tells me that the Malay community were supportive of Maria being returned to Aminah, and that the Malayan nationalists took advantage of this situation to rally the Malays to undermine British authority. L3/3 • It is also useful as it provides a balanced perspective by not only attributing blame to the Malay community but also to the “insensitivity of the British towards Muslim sentiments” which squares with my contextual knowledge as the British decision to put Maria in a convent did provoke Muslim sentiments as it seemed like the British did not respect the fact that Maria had been brought up a Muslim. L3/4
Question 1d • However, it is limited in its utility as it does not mention the role of the Media for blowing the situation out of proportions and inciting the Muslim community into taking violent actions against the British. L4/4 • This seems to be a significant shortcoming of the source, as seen from the fact that the role of the media is dealt with in Sources B, C and D, but is not mentioned at all in E. Both sources C and D blame the English and Malay papers respectively for contributing to the outbreak of the riots, and Source B is an example of how careless reporting by the Straits Times would have inflamed Malay grievances. L4/5
Question 1d • Ultimately, this source is limited in its utility in helping me to understand why the Maria Hertogh Riots took place. Although it explicitly mentions British insensitivity towards Muslim sentiments that was only alluded to in Source A and D, and therefore is useful in throwing light on British culpability, however, it does not mention the role of the media at all, in sensationalising the news, and how the free access of the journalists to the convent exposed the insensitivity of the British to the wider community, and thus inflamed racial and religious tensions, thus leading to the outbreak of the riots. L5/6