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Lim, Ivy Maria Mui Ling
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The decade of the 1950s in post-war Singapore represents one of the most tumultuous and perhaps misunderstood periods of Singapore’s history. It was a decade marked by not only British attempts to implement a policy of political tutelage through a series of guided constitutional reforms and elections beginning in 1948, but also by a rise in protests, strikes and riots, fermented, according to traditional narratives, by pro-communist or communist-influenced trade unions and student activists. This narrative of communist-inspired political activism, particularly among the Chinese-educated in post-war Singapore, has very much become entrenched in the national history of Singapore. This has made reassessments of the 1950s difficult especially when one considers the paucity of information, given that much of the official sources remain embargoed and inaccessible to most scholars. However, more sources have been made available in recent years, especially by those who were actively involved in the events of the 1950s, thus giving a more intimate insight into the political, economic and social environment of the 1950s. This thesis therefore aims to reassess the traditional narratives of communist influence in 1950s Singapore, particularly among the Chinese-educated political activists, in light of information shed by the new publications.

This paper examines two case studies, the first being the 1954 Anti-National Service Riot in which the Chinese middle school students were a part of, and the 1955 Hock Lee Bus Riots which involved the trade union workers from the Singapore Bus Workers’ Union (SBWU). As schools and trade unions were the two main groups which the communists infiltrated in the 1950s, these two case studies are representative of the how communism has influenced the students and trade union workers. However, this paper also asserts that many individuals were “useful idiots”, a term coined in 1930 by the Comintern, referring to those who were merely implicated or influenced by the activities of the MCP without knowing that they were aiding in the communist operations.
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DS610.25.C5 Hu
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Appears in Collections:Bachelor of Arts

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