HC Deb 15 June 1955 vol 542 cc10-1W
51. Sir R. Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the present emergency in Singapore.

Mr. Hopkinson

Yes. There has been an organised attack on the authority of the newly-elected Labour Front Government by extreme left-wing politicians, including members of the People's Action Party. These, with the help of well-organised pupils from the Chinese Middle Schools, have worked to prevent any compromise in industrial disputes and to excite strikers to acts of violence. Their aim has clearly been to discredit moderation and to subvert constitutional processes. These reckless tactics resulted on the night of 12th May in an outbreak of rioting in which four men were killed.

I should like to express on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, and, I am sure, of the whole House, our deep sympathy with the families of all those who lost their lives. Only the magnificent forebearance and firmness of the police prevented further and more extensive damage and casualties. The strike which was the ostensible cause of the agitation leading up to the earlier troubles has been settled. It is, however, clear that those responsible for the riots are undeterred by the bloodshed which has been caused and are prepared to continue using the same tactics. Sudden strikes have been called by unions dominated by the People's Action Party and on Monday last there was an attempt to call a general strike.

The Singapore Government have warned the persons responsible for these troubles that they will not tolerate these attempts to use violence to thwart the mandate so recently given to them. Responsible leaders of the Trades Union Congress have warned their members not to allow themselves to be used as tools to further the political ambitions of persons who have no real regard for their interests. On Saturday last the Government authorised the arrest of a number of key agitators who were playing a large part in the general strike threatened for Monday. About 15,000 men were on strike on Monday, but in a statement in the morning papers of that day the T.U.C. called upon "all trade unions to maintain restraint on their activities and not to take hasty action which might worsen the present Industrial unrest."

I have no doubt that the great body of ordinary, decent people in Singapore are anxious to help their Government in carrying out the paramount duty which it owes to all citizens of the Colony, the maintenance of law and order. In this they may be assured of the full support of Her Majesty's Government. Upon the maintenance of law and order depend alike the economic stability of this great centre of trade and the success of the bold constitutional advance which it has just made.