[Note: The film-stills in this post are extracted from “Riding the Tiger”(2001) produced by the Ministry of Information and the Arts, Singapore.]
10 October 1945. The Double Tenth Victory Rally and Parade, which started from Padang and passed many streets in the city of Singapore including New Bridge Road & Hill Street, as you can see from the film-still above. The building on the right is the “camouflaged” Hill Street Police Station. The banner above reads “歡迎聯軍” (which translates into “Welcome to the Allied Soldiers”). The banner in the background reads “聯合國萬歲” (Long live the United Nations).
Straits Times 11 October 1945, Page 3:
“100,00 Chinese Hold Double 10th Rally”
The greatest mass rally of Chinese in the history of Singapore took place on the padang yesterday morning, to celebrate the victory of the United Nations, and China’s National Day – Oct 10 – the day on which the Chinese Republic was founded 35 years ago.
More than 100,000 Chinese, representing 450 different associations, parties and schools, took part, led by the Singapore branch of the Kuomintang [KMT] and the Malayan Communist Party [MCP]. Carrying the flags of China, Great Britain, the United States and Russia, they paraded before a platform erected in front of the Y.M.C.A. (the former S.C.C. building) [Singapore Recreation Club].
On this platform were the Chinese leaders and Brigadier P.A.B. McKerron. The first speaker, the leader of the Singapore branch of the Kuomintang, Mr Chye Fui Sang [蔡晖生], called upon the Chinese of Malaya to work shoulder-to-shoulder with other communities in the country, in order to build up a better Malaya. A tribute to the great part Britain has played in the victorious fight against Fascism was paid by the representative of the Malayan Communist Party Mr. Woo Tian Wang [伍天旺]. Mr. Woo emphasized that in the building of a new and democratic Malaya there are two essentials – the improvement of the living conditions of the working classes, and a democratic educational system. (…)
The rally then marched through the streets of the town. It was the biggest procession that Singapore has ever witnessed. It was at least three-and-a-half miles [approx. 5.6km] long, and when the spearhead of the procession arrived at Tanjong Pagar, its tail-end had not yet left the padang.”
(Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
The parade crosses the Coleman Bridge from New Bridge Road to Hill Street. The flag that the two boys are carrying is the official flag of the Republic of China. It is commonly described as “青天，白日，满地红” (Blue Sky, White Sun, and a Wholly Red Earth).
Besides being an occasion to celebrate the Allied victory and the anniversary of the birth of the Republic of China, the Double Tenth parade was also an opportunity to rally strength for the promotion of post-war economic rehabilitation and social stability, and raise funds for war refugees and victims in China and Malaya. The banner in the film-still above reads “慶祝勿忘救濟” (Do not neglect war-relief efforts in spite of the celebrations).
“The first postwar Double Tenth celebration was held in 1945 within an atmosphere of victorious euphoria and adulation of China as ‘one of the world’s five (sic) great powers.’ (…) With the exception of festivities in Kuala Lumpur, [public gatherings all over Malaya] were jointly sponsored by the MCP and KMT factions. (…) Organizations like the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce (…) came forward to sponsor the event [in Singapore]. The groups that appeared at the local Double Tenth celebrations like the Workers’ Union [工人联合会，工联] were MCP-associated mass organizations.”
(Quote from: Fujio Hara, Malayan Chinese and China: Conversion In Identity Consciousness 1945-1957, Singapore, 2003, pp. 14 & 15. Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
Although this group of film-stills is captioned as “Post War Singapore” in the “Riding the Tiger” documentary, the actual locations depicted in them could be of Kuala Lumpur or other towns in Malaya. Chinese-led victory parades were held all over Malaya.
Workers and representatives from trade unions were out in full force during the parades. The banner in the film-still reads “工聯支會” (Workers’ Union Branch). The shop name behind the banner should read “Shanghai Shoe Co.” It seems to be an old establishment in Kuala Lumpur, and it still has a shop along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (formerly Batu Road), a major thoroughfare in KL.
“V” for victory. Mayfair Musical and Dramatic Association (爱华音乐戏剧社), a prominent pro-China group formed in 1934 that participated in war relief efforts and organized cultural activities for the Chinese masses. After the war the association took a stance in favour of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and CDL (China Democratic League).
The placard reads “Singapore Mayfair Musical and Dramatic Association Celebrates The Allied Victory.” Presumably, it is the victory over the Japanese Imperialists.
“Japan’s series of incursions into Chinese affairs and the eventual invasion of China stimulated a sense of patriotism and attachment to China among Malayan Chinese. Such events as Japan’s “Twenty-One Demands” during World War I (1915) to insure its vested interests in China, the advance of the Japanese army into Shandong Province in 1928 to block the northern advance of the KMT forces, the Manchurian Incident of 1931, and the Shanghai Incident of 1932 caused a pro-China reaction among Malayan Chinese in the form of resistance movements and the boycott of Japanese products. (…) When total hostilities broke out between China and Japan in 1937, a very large and long-term wave of reaction began.
“Following the collaboration between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1936, the MCP and KMT in Malaya promised to collaborate among themselves in resisting the Japanese invasion, and this contributed to an upswell of activity. Both parties led the resistance movement in Malaya as part of a similar movement in China, (…) During the late 1930s various resistance and China aid organizations sprung up all over Malaya. (…)
“In this way Chinese nationalism was combined with a China-oriented identity consciousness. This situation continued into the war when the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) which drew members mainly from the Chinese community, fought against Japan’s occupation of Malaya. For both the Chinese resistance fighters and the Chinese in general, the struggle against the Japanese was not only a struggle for Malayan national liberation, but also one linked to the war of resistance ongoing in China.”
(Quote from: Fujio Hara, Malayan Chinese and China, Singapore, 2003, pp. 13 – 14. Emphasis in italics mine.)
“For [the Overseas Chinese, “the war”] began in July 1937, in China. It was not the “Second World War” or “Pacific War”, but a “Great East Asiatic” or Patriotic War for China. When the postwar Malayan press ran stories of local resistance, they often accompanied these with accounts from China. Next to stories of massacres of Chinese in Malaya were stories about those in China.”
(Quote from Kevin Blackburn & Karl Hack, War Memory And The Making of Modern Malaysia and Singapore, Singapore, 2012, pp. 99. Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
“The Malayan Chinese were thus part of that war [in China] whether they liked it or not. The tragedy was that even the many Chinese who cared nothing about the war in China were caught in it simply because they were of Chinese origin. The Japanese did not distinguish, when they shot and arrested the Chinese, whether they were born in China or were local-born third, fourth or fifth generation of Chinese descent. This certainly had an enormous psychological impact. It did not matter how long one had been away from China, or whether one cared for China or not, all Chinese were at the receiving end of the war and would be treated the same. (…) The Japanese made no distinction whether a Chinese was a Chinese patriot or not; all Chinese faced the same kind of terror and fear. The effect of this on the collective memory consolidated the sense of Chinese nationalism and forced a Chinese cultural identity on everyone, no matter how long the Chinese had been in the country.”
(Quote from: Wang Gungwu, Memories of War: World War II in Asia, in P. Lim & Diana Wong (ed.), War and Memory in Malaysia and Singapore, Singapore, 2000. Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
“10 October  or the “Double Tenth” [双十节] (China’s National Day) was celebrated on a national scale with large Chinese processions and mass meetings jointly organized by the communists, Chinese guilds and organizations, and the Malayan Kuomintang. The leading part played by the MCP/MPAJU [Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Union] /MPAJA; both MPAJU and MPAJA are organized and ideologically influenced by the MCP] and their members in these celebrations attested to the fact that they saw themselves as Chinese and as Chinese organizations and Chinese patriots owing a loyalty to China.”
(Quote from: Cheah Boon Kheng, Red Star Over Malaya: Resistance and Social Conflict During and After the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, 1941-46, Singapore, 2012, pp.251. Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
“I have suggested that the Chinese throughout Southeast Asia [including Singapore and Malaya] have at all times manifested three distinctive political groupings based on their commitment to politics in China, to the politics of the respective overseas communities, and to local politics whether indigenous, colonial or nationalist. (…) The three political groups are, firstly Group A which maintains links with the politics of China, either directly or indirectly, and is concerned always to identify with the destiny of China. It is the most obviously political of the three, but given the restrictions of distance away from China and of wariness on the part of colonial or nationalist governments, is also probably the most ineffective and frustrated. The second is Group B which consists of the hard-headed and realistic majority of the Chinese who are more concerned with the low posture and indirect politics of trade and community associations. They are also the most modest in their aims and frequently give the impression of being non-political. (…) As for the third group, Group C, it is a small group often uncertain of itself because it is uncertain of its own identity, but generally committed to some sort of Malayan loyalty. It is a mixed group, consisting of several layers of members ranging from Babas, British Straits Chinese, and Malayan nationalists, to others with motives of different degrees of dubiousness.”
(Quote from: Wang Gungwu, Chinese Politics in Malaya, China Quarterly, 43, 1970. Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
My maternal grandfather’s 華僑登記證 (Certificate of Registration for Overseas Chinese), issued by the 駐新加坡總領事館 (The Consul-General Office of the Republic of China in Singapore) in May 1938. He came to Singapore in 1935 (民国24年) as a “merchant” from Anxi (安溪), Fujian Province (福建). His name was Lim Chih (林赤), but he later changed it to Lim Boon Chia (林文赤). Based on my limited understanding of his life — he passed away in 1986 — he can be considered as belonging to Group B, according to Wang Gungwu’s categorizations in the quote above. The “hard-headed and realistic” kind…
The cover of the 華僑登記證 (Certificate of Registration for Overseas Chinese). The emblem on the cover is of the Republic of China. Overseas Chinese were considered citizens of the Republic of China, sojourners in the foreign lands of Singapore, Malaya and other parts of the world.
“It is important to begin by recognizing that the Chinese lived in a rapidly changing situation during the last hundred years of Malayan as well as Chinese and British colonial history. They were primarily transient sojourners before 1900, increasingly settled after that, and almost entirely a settled population after 1945.”
(Quote from: Wang Gungwu, Chinese Politics in Malaya, China Quarterly, 43, 1970.)
My maternal grandmother’s 人民出國許可證 (Citizen’s Exit Permit), issued in August 1947 by the 廈門僑務局 (Xiamen Office for Overseas Chinese Matters). She was applying for permission to leave the country to join my grandfather in Singapore. Her name is 王贴 (Ong Tiap). The photograph attached to the permit is of my grandmother with my eldest uncle and aunt (when they were much younger…) I also noticed that both my grandmother’s and my uncle’s name (林清荣) were handwritten in simplified Chinese (简体字). (Traditional – 王貼, Simplified – 王贴; T – 林清榮, S – 林清荣) This was before the widespread promotion of the use of simplified Chinese characters by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the 1950s.
“Chin Peng: At first I regarded myself as a Chinese, not a Malayan, because at that time you have no concept as a Malayan. Either if you were born in the Straits Settlements, a British Colony, you were regarded as a British subject. Those not born there were called alien. And we, born in the Malay States, called the Malay British-protected States, so we got the status of British-protected persons, not British subjects. Of course we have to consider ourselves as Chinese. We had no other way. And also our education, for Chinese education was run by the Chinese community, the Government provided only a bit of allowances. Then the Chinese community ran their own schools, they used their own textbooks, except for English, used the local textbooks….”
(Quote from: C.C. Chin & Karl Hack (ed.), Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party, Singapore, 2004, pp. 62. Emphasis in italics mine.)
My maternal grandfather’s “Certificate of Admission”, issued by the Immigration Office in Singapore in December 1938. He had already arrived in Singapore three years ago, in 1935. The British colonialists treated the migrant Overseas Chinese as “Aliens”.
“Chin Peng: ….That’s why I tried to go to China to fight in China. I considered this the best way to serve my motherland. Later on when I read a lot of books, socialist books, I considered myself as a socialist. And also one of my very close friends [Lai Lai Fuk 赖来福], influenced me very much about that. Otherwise I would go to China, Yenan [延安] to join Mao Tse Tung’s (毛泽东) forces. He said, you are Malayan, and your post is to fight in Malaya not to go to China. You have to fight in Malaya, and you can also fight the Japanese in Malaya. Then, I think from that day on, I decided not to go to Yenan, to stay in Malaya. I think that is the Malayan Patriotism.”
(Quote from: C.C. Chin & Karl Hack (ed.), Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party, Singapore, 2004, pp. 63. Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
“The Chinese were still unclear about their loyalties (…) But the British government’s plan for the Malayan Union policy [in 1945] will require them to shift their political orientation fully to Malaya. The Chinese would not be ready to do this. For this reason, they did not give enthusiastic and full support to the policy, although apparently they stood to gain from it. (…) There was British realization that the Chinese were still in a dilemma over their dual nationality, and that the Chinese problem had to be resolved gradually through a citizenship, which the Chinese would have to work out with the Malay representatives.”
(Quote from: Cheah Boon Kheng, Red Star Over Malaya, Singapore, 2012, pp.295 & 296. Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
“The Malayan Union Scheme proposed by Great Britain in October 1945 was discarded due to opposition from Malay conservatives, and in its place the Federation of Malaya was formed in February 1948, under which sweeping restrictions were imposed on residents of non-Malay origin for gaining citizenship. The Chinese showed little enthusiasm about getting involved in the Malayan Union issue, even though citizenship became the focal point for disputes. Victor Purcell, a pioneer in the study of the Malayan Chinese community wrote, ‘Altogether there was apathy among the Chinese to the Malayan Union… The Chinese press still showed very little interest, though their columns were filled with China news.’ (…) The editorial of the June 16, 1947 issue of the Nan Chiau Jit Pao [南侨日报] argued that Malaya was still not an independent state at that time, and it was still unclear what rights would actually be bestowed on a ‘citizen’, thus it was only natural that the Chinese would prefer to retain their Chinese nationality.”
(Quote from: Fujio Hara, Malayan Chinese and China, Singapore, 2003, pp. 4. Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
My maternal grandfather’s Republic of China passport, issued by the Consul-General of China in Singapore in August 1940. He eventually became a Singapore citizen and held a Singapore passport. For how long did he retain his Chinese nationality?
“Chin Peng: [In 1938], an article came out from the [MCP] Central Committee, but written by Huang Ye Lu [黄耶鲁]. He set out the theory of Malayan Chinese. At that time we were definitely Malayan Chinese, but we sometimes use the Chinese very loosely – Hua Qiao (华侨), overseas Chinese, Ma Lai Ya Hua Qiao (马来亚华侨), that means Malayan Overseas Chinese. Later on we changed it to Malayan Chinese. As Malayan Chinese, we had dual tasks. On the one side we had to fight the Japanese, to help China. Not to go to China but to help China in other ways. I would say, mostly by donations. On the other hand, we had to fight for Malayan liberation. I think the main theme was that. Because the Malayan Party since its founding, its main part was to fight for Malayan revolution. Now we cannot find out our programme, the first programme. It must be, when we set up the Party at the first Congress, there must be a programme for the Party, but we couldn’t find it. We found the earliest one is only in 1932. The programme is to fight for Malaya, to drive the British imperialists out of Malaya and to set up a Soviet Republic.”
(Quote from: C.C. Chin & Karl Hack (ed.), Dialogues with Chin Peng: New Light on the Malayan Communist Party, Singapore, 2004, pp. 67. Additional information in italics and square brackets mine.)
LOCATION SCOUTING IN ARCHIVE FOOTAGE OF THE IMMEDIATE EVENTS FOLLOWING THE JAPANESE SURRENDER IN 1945: