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Communal riots occur 21st Jul 1964

A series of Sino-Malay riots occurred in Singapore over two separate periods in July and September 1964. These riots were the worst and most prolonged in Singapore's post-war history.[1] The first incident took place on 21 July when Chinese and Malays clashed during a Muslim procession held to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.[2] The rioting spread from the Geylang district to other areas and this prompted the government to impose island-wide curfews that lasted from 9:30 pm to 6:00 am the next day.[3] Military reinforcements were called in to assist the police in restoring order while racially-mixed teams of political and community leaders travelled around the city to appeal for calm.[4] The riots left 23 people dead and 454 injured by the time the curfew was lifted on 2 August.[5] Violence erupted again on 2 September when the fatal stabbing of a Malay trishaw-rider in Geylang Serai triggered retaliatory attacks that escalated into communal clashes.[6] The September riots resulted in 13 deaths and 106 people injured.[7]

1. Clutterbuck, R. L. (1984). Conflict and violence in Singapore and Malaysia: 1945–1983 (p. 321). Singapore: G. Brash. Call no.: RSING 959.57 CLU C-[HIS].
2. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore,1819–2005 (p. 291). Singapore: NUS Press. Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS].
3. Appeal for calm. (1964, July 22). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Goodwill committees established in all 51 constituencies. (1964, July 27). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Under control: Razak. (1964, July 23). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Curfew off. (1964, August 3). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Lau, A. (2003). A moment of anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the politics of disengagement (p. 175). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press. Call no.: RSING 959.5705 LAU-[HIS].
6. Lau, 2003, p. 195.
7. Lau, 2003, p. 197.


The information in this article is valid as at 2012 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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