Headlines, Lifelines

1956 - student riots

Parents giving supplies and moral support
Parents giving supplies and moral
support to students staging a stay-in
demo at Chung Cheng High School
The Lim Yew Hock government took stern measures to put a clamp on communist activities.

With the cooperation of the British Governor and Commissioner of Police, "Operation Photo" was carried out. Roadblocks, troops and helicopters were used to deal with the outbreak of violence.

In September 1956, Lim Yew Hock deregistered and banned two pro-communist organisations -- the SWA (Singapore Women’s Association) and the Chinese Musical Gong Society. The SCMSSU (Singapore Chinese Middle School Students Union) was also dissolved.

This sparked off the violent student riots of 1956.

Riot police
Riot police clear the barricades set up by
the students.
The students camped at Chung Cheng High School and Chinese High School. They organised meetings and held demonstrations. This went on for about two weeks.

On Oct 24, the government issued an ultimatum that the schools be vacated. As the deadline approached, rioting started at the Chinese High School.

The riots spread to other parts of the island. They lasted five days. 13 people were killed and more than 100 were injured.

Hundreds of people were arrested, including Lim Chin Siong, who remained in detention until the Lee Kuan Yew government freed him in 1959, after winning the elections.

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