Goodwill Liaison Committee

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People’s Association (PA) headquarters in Kallang.  Established on 1 July 1960, PA’s aim is to foster racial harmony and social cohesion in Singapore.

Race, language and religion are fault lines that have torn many societies apart, PM Lee Hsien Loong noted in his Facebook post on 20 July 2017.

“Singapore is a rare and precious example of a multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-religious society where people live harmoniously together,” he wrote.

“This is not by chance.  The Government and the different communities worked hard together to make this happen.”

We know why here .

With the courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore, the text of broadcast talk by the Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, over Radio Singapore on Friday, 24 July, 1964 at 8.00 pm to share on this blog.

[In the last 24 hours the situation improved.  The number of incidents has gone down by about half.  The first phase of rioting is over.  The Police and Military are sufficiently deployed all over the island and heavily concentrated in the affected areas of Geylang Serai and Kampong Kembangan to prevent any further clashes.

The problem now is fear and suspicion.  Groups of Malays is predominantly Chinese areas are fearful that they may be attacked.  So, too, groups of Chinese in predominantly Malay are afraid for themselves.  In fact, in one incident last night in the Geylang Serai area 2 groups became frightened of each other as each thought that the other was about to attack and had armed themselves with sticks and weapons.  Fortunately there were men courageously enough amongst their midst who went forward and questioned each others intentions.  They discovered that each were afraid of the other, and neither had intended to attack.  So they got together and formed a ‘Goodwill Liaison Committee’ to jointly protect each other from extremists and lunatics.

Our business now is to dispel this fear and to restore confidence.  In those parts of the island, where the Chinese are in the majority, make it a duty to shelter and protect your Malay fellow citizens from mischief.  Similarly, in those parts where Malays predominate, give shelter and protect your Chinese neighbours.  If your neighbour’s house is now empty, make it your duty to do all you can to see that no harm comes to it.  In this way goodwill and confidence in each others’ intentions will be re-established.

This afternoon in twelve constituencies, where large Malay kampongs adjoin Chinese villages, local village elders and kampong ketuas, together with members of the Citizen Consultatuve Committees, with Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries have gone round to set up Goodwill Liaison Committees to restore morale and confidence.  This work will go on tomorrow as more and more Police can be spared to escort these teams.

Eventually, the work will blanket the whole island with the help of community leaders, kampong ketuas and penghulus, leaders of Trade Unions, Chambers of Commerce and Social and Civic organisations.  They will help to spread goodwill and confidence.

Meanwhile the life and health of our city is being maintained.  Distribution of food, essential services, medical and health  services and most important of all city cleansing is going on.  There were a few deplorable incidents yesterday when city cleansing labourers who had gone out on their public duty to clean the streets and dustbins of garbage were attacked.  This is madness.  We should thank and help protect these men who are risking their lives and limbs to ensure that there are no epidemics.  The Police are giving them protection, but they cannot be everywhere in strength at the same time.  Anyone who injures as essential worker is a fool and a criminal.  The Police have orders in such situations to act first and ask questions later.

To get things back to normal quickly, there must be close co-ordination and co-operation with the Central Government.  They are in direct charge of the police and military operations. We have a common purpose and a common responsibility.  As the Police and the Army scrub out violence and restore law and order, the civil administration and civic organisations must get to work to restore morale, confidence and a spirit of compassion and understanding in the face of a common calamity.  Meanwhile people must get back to work and earn their living.  Day by day as the situation improves. the curfew will be relaxed for all of you to resume the normal business of life and living.  We cannot afford this idleness.

Meanwhile, look after your families and yourselves and prevent evil men in our midst from preaching more hatred and generating more violence.

Meanwhile to those who have suffered as a result of the calamity over the last few days, may I give this word of comfort: the Government will help you to rehabilitate yourselves, your families and your homes.]

Source:  National Archives of Singapore.

Archived photos of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew during his visit to Geylang Serai on 24 July, 1964.

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