- about singapore
- discover it
- just do it
- best of singapore
The Japanese imprisoned all the Europeans found in Singapore. The prisoners-of-war (POW) were kept in various camps of Changi Prison, Selarang Barracks, Siam Road Camp and others. Some were sent to Thailand for the railroad construction. Force to work with simple tools and long work hours with less food to eat. The railways was completed within 16 months despite the estimated 5 years of railroad construction, it cost the lives of thousands of people. Thus, the railways became known as the Death Railway.
The other prisoners who were in the prison camps were made to clean up the city, bury the dead bodies and restore water and electricity supplies. The food shortage and poor health conditions in the prisons led to the death of many POWs.
The law and order in the country was critical during the occupation. Looters caught were shot to death and had their heads displayed at Dhoby Ghaut, Anderson Bridge and Kallang Bridge.
Cloud of suspicion also arise dues to the spies of Kempeitai or Japanese Military Police that encourage people to give information in return of reward and privileges. Harsh measures were given to those arrested and suspected as anti Japanese. Mass executions claimed about 50,000 in Singapore. The populace suffered severe hardship throughout the three and half years of Japanese Occupation.
In August 1945, the World War II ended. The British forces led by Lord Louis Moutbatten returned to Singapore to receive formal surrender of Japanese forces in the region from General Itagaki Seihiro and to govern Singapore under the British Military Administration. In March 1946 the period of military administration ended, the Straits Settlement was also dissolved. Singapore became a Crown Colony on 1 April 1946 while Malacca and Penang became part of the Malayan Union in 1946 and later the Federation of Malaya in 1948.
Singapore as a crown colony with civil administration was headed by a Governor. The clamor of the people to have a say in the government led to the establishment of separate Executive and Legislative Councils. The Governor continued to hold a firm control over the colony but there was a provision for the election of six members to the Legislative Council by popular vote. On 20 March 1948 the first Singapore election was held.
Three months after the election the communist party of Malaya tried to take over Malaya and Singapore by force. A state of emergency was declared on June 1948 and lasted for 12 years.
Towards the end of 1953, the British Government appointed a commission under Sir George Rendel to review the country’s constitutional position and to make recommendation for change. In 1954 based on Rendel’s proposals the British decided to give Singapore limited self-government. This meant that certain less important areas of government would be controlled by local representatives while the British Ministers would control more important areas in the country such as defense, finances and foreign affairs.
The 1955 Legislative election was an exciting event on the history of the Singapore with several political parties joining the fray. Automatic registration expanded the voters registry to 75,000 to over 300, 000 which included large numbers of Chinese. Lobour Front party won most seat and David Marshall, became Singapore’s first Chief Minister on 6 April 1955.