Straits Times, May 17, 1955
Goode tells Assembly of the
events leading to the riots:
Prolonged fiery speeches at bus
depot whipped up hatred towards the police
The Chief Secretary, Mr WAC
Goode, yesterday gave the Legislative Assembly a
diary of the events leading up to the rioting in
Singapore last Thursday and an official version of
the riot itself.
Srtikers of the Hock Lee Amalgamated Bus
Company attempted to stop the buses from leaving the
depot by sitting on the ground, completely blocking
the main gate with a human barrier.
The management of the company appealed
to the police to obtain their right of free passage
in and out of the depot.
On both mornings, the arrival of strong
police formations persuaded the strikers to give up
their attempt to stop the buses and no force was
About 150 strikers again formed a human
barrier in front of the main gate. The police asked
them to move and gave them repeated warnings that
they were going against the law by physiaclly
preventing freedom of movement to the buses. But they
did not move.
A squad from the police Reserve Unit was
then asked to move the strikers away from the gate.
"This they succeeded in doing
quickly and efficiently, without any undue force
being used and the buses were able to move
unmolested," Mr Goode said.
Stones were thrown at the police during
Mr Goode continued: "Many of the
strikers, who had been manhandled away from the gate,
feigned injury and two of them lay on the ground near
the gate, being tended to by friends and complaining
that they were seriously hurt."
An ambulance was immediately called but
the "injured" men could not be found when
the ambulance arrived.
Throughout the rest of the day, Mr Goode
said, there were large congregations of strikers,
sympathisers and students outside the depot.
Indignation meetings, supported by large
groups of students and addressed continuously by
agitators through loud-speakers, continued for
several days and were deliberately designed to whip
up hatred and hostility towards the police force as a
"Throughout this period of growing
tension," Mr Goode said, "the police did
everything in their power to prevent any incident
occurring which might provoke a clash and thereby
nullify the great efforts being made by the Chief
Minister and the Minister for Labour to reach a
settlement by negotiation."
The two weeks of negotiation broke down
and the police were ordered to by the Government to
take such action as was necessary to ensure the right
of passage of buses where the company was prepared to
The strikers again resorted to their
manoeuvre of forming a human barrier in front of the
gate. The Commissioner of Police himself, accompanied
by two magistrates, exhausted all means of peacefully
persuading them to move.
The magistrate ordered the police to
disperse the strikers as they were an unlawful
assembly. The Commissioner of Police dispersed them
by means of hoses from trailer pumps.
The buses were then able to resume
service to the public. Then persons complained of
injuries in this police operation, and eight of them
were carried into ambulances on stretchers.
These stretcher cases were treated in
the hospital. The medical report, received two hours
later, stated that except for one man, who was
suffering from mild concussion, the remainder had no
The extremists, Mr Goode said, used the
stretcher cases as propaganda to fan further hatred
against the police.
Although the strikers got into position
again to block the gate, they changed their minds
when the police arrived. The buses were able to come
There was a further 24 hours of more
meetings outside the depot, addressed by agitators
condemning the police and threatening concerted
action by all labour if the police should again
This succeeded in stiffening the morale
of the strikers.
The strikers again tried to stop the
buses from coming out. Once again, the efforts of
senior police officers and magistrates failed to
persuade them to obey the law and once more the
police were ordered by the magistrate to disperse
them by force.
They were again dispersed with water,
but on this occasion the crowd gathered around and
bricks and stones were hurled at the police.
One police officer was injured in the
face and others received minor injuries. The buses
came out but three of them were damaged by stones
hurled by the crowd and had to return.
Next: The Black Day
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