以下是读者推荐 2023年5月13日 Function 8 的贴文（英中版）：
69TH ANNIVERSARY OF MAY 13, 1954 IN SINGAPORE
Tan Kok Fang
Today marks the 69th Anniversary of May 13, 1954. In answer to questions raised on the most important incident that turned the tide against the colonial master in Singapore, Mr Tan Kok Fang in answer to several questions responded as follows:
On May 13, 1954, members of the riot squad from the Singapore Police Force under the British Colonial Government, armed with batons and ropes were sent to the foot of Fort Canning Hill Park at Clemenceau Avenue to disperse hundreds of students from several Chinese middle schools.
The students were gathered there to render moral support to their representatives who were supposed to visit the Colonial Governor's Office nearby to submit a petition requesting for postponement of national service introduced by the colonial government.
The brutal beatings carried out by the colonial police resulted in severe injuries to the young students. Many female students fled in tears with their uniforms blood-stained and torn. They were in a most disheveled state. Some fifty students were arrested. After the students were forcibly dispersed, the surroundings were left in a state of pandemonium, not unlike that of a war-torn scene. Those vicious acts shocked many onlookers who voluntarily and readily rendered help to the students. For Singaporeans, the scene only served to remind them of the barbarous violations committed by the invading Japanese Imperial Army. Needless to say, the strong-arm tactics of the colonial police caused a backlash of sweeping proportions hitherto unseen in Singapore.
WHY DID THE CHINESE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS OPPOSE NATIONAL SERVICE?
Singapore in 1954 was still a British colony, not an independent nation state. There was no justification whatsoever for a young man to serve in the army of his colonial master whose mission for being there was simply to subjugate him and his fellow countrymen. In addition, young men in that same cohort had had their normal education interrupted by the Japanese and their top and single preoccupation then was to catch up with the time lost. The students were therefore compelled to protest against the colonial national service by any means they could muster under the circumstances.
More than a hundred students from the Catholic High School were expelled for sympathizing with the cause. I was one of them. I was then in Junior Middle II. After pleas from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and members of the management committee of the schools concerned, we were separately accepted to continue our studies in Chong Cheng High School and Hwa Chong.
WHY DID THE STUDENTS SACRIFICE THEIR EDUCATION FOR THE CAUSE?
My answer is simple: If the cause had failed, would there be education left? I think it is because we treasure our education so much that we had to pursue the cause. I remember a slogan which accompanied our struggle when we camped in the school campus in Hwa Chong: We want to study and not be a soldier (我们要读书，不要当兵).
WHY ARE THERE FEWER STUDENT BODIES LIKE THE SINGAPORE CHINESE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS UNION (SCMSSU) TODAY?
To answer this question, we have to examine the larger context of our society today. In the first place, the SCMSSU in its heyday existed for only a very short period of time, from 31 October 1955 to 24 September 1956 when it was deregistered by the Lim Yew Hock government.
HAVE SINGAPORE STUDENTS BECOME DE-POLITICIZED TODAY?
I remember Dr Toh Chin Chye, former Chairman of the PAP and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Singapore had once bemoaned the apolitical inclination of his students. For a person of his position to say that is something we should not wrangle with. I think he should perhaps have a ready answer for that situation too. As the PAP government is known to be a strong advocate of social engineering, we can perhaps safely conclude that it is the deliberate policy of the government to let students be apolitical, for whatever purpose or agenda it may conceive.
In his monumental book: Living In a Time of Deception, Dr Poh Soo Kai introduced a couplet attributed to his grandpa, a great nationalist, philanthropist and industrialist of Southeast Asia, which says: On the rise and fall of a country, everyone has a responsibility. The self and the family may be sacrificed, but between right and wrong there can be no compromise.
I believe the above teaching of such a great man as Tan Kah Kee has imbued many of my contemporaries, indeed, numerous people before and after me, to fight for what is right.
I am suggesting that it is important to read and educate ourselves in order to better distinguish what is right and what is wrong. I am of the opinion that Dr Poh's book is one of the most important book for a good read at this time for understanding the issues confronting us now.
I am now retired and my free time is spent mostly on reading and writing.
Watch Tan Kok Fang giving a speech at the launch of The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore here:
Cover of book Youth On Trial show a woodcut by the late Singaporean artist Choo Keng Kwang
2023年05月15日首版 Created on on May 15, 2023
2023年05月15日改版 Last updated on May 15, 2023