Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Riot That Wasn't

The oft quoted racial riots cited as excuse for being booted out of Malaysia took place in 1969. In that sense, the Little India uprising of 2013 was a 1-in-50-year event. Close enough anyway, since 2019 is still a few years away. But stranger things have happened. Lee Siew Choh was arrested for being in a riot he didn't take part in, and didn't take place. In April 1963, he was detained for “attempting to overawe, by means of criminal force, the Prime Minister at City Hall.”
"He (Fong Sip Chee) said things which are untrue. He says that I was marching in front of the demonstration. I was never there! I was not there at all!

I tell you this so-called City Hall Riot was also a big humbug. Not only a misnomer. A terrible humbug. There was no such thing! You see, it all depends on who controls the radio and who controls the press.

What happened was this. Many of our party leaders and union leaders were arrested in February 1963 under Operation Cold Store, and they were put into prison and treated badly. They were put into solitary confinement. And in hot, suffocating cells. They were complaining! And the parents were not allowed to see them. The parents were complaining and asking that better treatment be given to the detainees. But the PAP government ignored our complaints.

And in order to let people know about it, some of our Assemblymen and the families of the detainees held a peaceful demonstration. It started from the party headquarters in Victoria Street, going around to North Bridge Road, to South Bridge Road, and then to City Hall.

Of course, they wanted to see Lee Kuan Yew. They wanted to ask him, why don’t you release them? Or give them better conditions of treatment? Don’t ill-treat them! So, holding their placards, they walked up the steps to his office in City Hall. The police said that he was not in his office. But everybody knew that he was in. So the families of the detainees refused to believe the policeman.

Thev continued up the steps. And when they went up the steps, the policemen who were under the charge of an inspector who I believe is the Police Chief today, pushed back the group of detainee's families, including old women and young girls. Some of them fell! And what do you expect when people push you? Of course you push back!

That was the so-called City Hall Riot ! "

("Leaders of Singapore", Melanie Chew, page 126)

Lots of things untrue have been said about what happened at Hong Lim Park. Fortunately Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob has recognized that comments on the event will fall foul of sub judice laws and should not be allowed in the House. When Khaw Boon Wan refrained from Parliamentary discussion of the subject - specifically, addressing questions tabled by MPs Denise Phua and Zainal Sapari concerning Speakers Corner’s rules and the incident on 27 September 2014 - he simply said, "It is not appropriate". To admit that it is plain illegal was apparently too much a bitter pill for him to swallow.


  1. I do not know on what evidence you say that "fortunately Speaker of the House Halimah Yacob has recognized that comments no the event will fall foul of sub judice laws and should not be allowed in the House." There is no report of her alleged action. Indeed it was M.Ravi who had to write to her to remind her of the sub judice laws, not unlike Eugene Tan's reminder of the lack of quorum. As a matter of Parliamentary practice it is the duty of the Speaker to disallow any discussion of matters which are sub judice. In the present instance, the questions were written questions filed by MPs and it would have been incumbent upon the Speaker to reject them and not allow them to be tabled in the first instance..

  2. I think our leaders are just plain cunning and then play innocent when questioned.

    Just like those Sim Lim Square or People's Park Complex bosses who sold handphones to innocent customers & tourists and then secretly charge a bomb for warranties which should have been included in the 1st place.

    Some more those in the Tourism Board ask those affected to report errant ones even when knowing for a fact that the cheating problem has not been solved for decades, just like Operation Coldstore.

  3. "Lee Siew Choh was arrested for a riot he didn't take
    part in, and didn't take place." This reminds me of Tan Wah
    Piow who was also arrested for a riot he didn't take part in and didn't take place. I think he was found guilty and jailed
    for a year.

    1. "leegal" and "illeegal" are not in the dictionary.

    2. M Ravi was real lucky he wasn't arrested after the riot in Little India! He wasn't there of course. And the riot wasn't a real riot too - more of an angry response against only the inapt policemen. Someone must have been sleeping and missed the opportunity to fix him. Haha.