Living in school
"We were together
everyday and there were activities such as debates,
dance classes and picnics. Many students liked this
of communal living and so we stayed on."
Relaxing over a cup of
fragrant jasmine tea, Wong recalls those days in
"We broke up into groups during study
hours. The more senior students spoke to the
rest of us about current affairs, local and
abroad, especially about the developments in
Communist China. They also disseminated
banned texts, such as books on Chinese
"We had many debates to discuss the
ideas, concepts and problems mentioned in the
texts. Several classes would be combined for
these sessions as the leaders wanted to
listen to different views. These sessions
could become very intense as the speakers got
Click for a report on the students'
of tea and biscuits
"We slept in the classrooms. We arranged the
chairs and desks together. Some would sleep on the
desks, others took the chairs. Usually, each class
had about 40 students. But not all the students
joined the sit-in.
There was enough room
for everyone. We were a co-ed school. The boys and
girls slept in different classrooms.
No. At home, I slept on wooden boards. In those days,
there was no Dunlop mattresses for us. Supporters
sent us blankets, so we used those to keep warm at
"We were disciplined. We got up on our own each
morning without prompting."
"I packed a few items like shirts in my school
bag. When my clothes got dirty, I washed them, just
like all the other students."
"Everyday, we ate da wo fan (literal
translators: rice in big pots) together. We took
turns to go to the canteen for meals...
"Food was simple,
just vegetables and maybe a bit of pork. Most of us
didn't eat that well at home either. People like the
Hokkiens and Teochews ate even more simply than the
seeing stacks of food, like rice and noodles, all
stored in the canteen. Of course, you wouldn't find
titbits there!" (laughs).
"The heavier responsibilities, such as cooking,
were shouldered by those students who were more
involved in the organisation of the movement. Many
students, like myself, were less involved. We usually
just helped with light chores such as arranging the
tables and chairs and fetching plates during meal
"Our school had three gates. One was closed off.
We took turns to stand guard at the other two. I also
did a bit of gate duty. The student guards were
relieved every few hours.
"When a student
wanted to leave, the guard simply asked which class
he was from. It was not very rigorous checking.
Anyway, after a while, we all knew each other and
there was never any trouble coming or going.
"The students did
not carry any weapon, nor were there any barricades
except the school fence, as we felt there was no
need. Concerned parents and well-wishers such as
trade union members often visited us."
"We gathered in small groups around the
campfires.... Bedtime came early, at nine or slightly
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