Divergent approaches, converging aims : a comparative analysis of political activism among Chinese- and English-educated students in early-1950s Singapore
Wong, Michelle Li Shuen
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
In Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs, he described the world of the Chinese-educated students as politically dynamic while he condemned the English-educated students as politically apathetic. This portrayal of student activism in Singapore, which paralleled the communist and non-communist divide, posits a binary view of the world of student politics in 1950s Singapore. My thesis argues that, in reality, the rather different educational environments in late colonial Singapore created different forms of student activism, and at different levels in the English and Chinese educational systems. By comparing the politicisation of the Chinese- and English-educated students, I hope to show that the difference in the colonial treatment of Chinese and English schools had determined the contexts in which the students mobilise. This study also examines how the students assumed different student identities in different language streams, which influenced their capacity to organise themselves collectively at these levels. Despite their divergent approaches and ideals, the two worlds of students had a common motivation and goal of anti-colonialism and independence for Malaya. By drawing accounts from past student activists, the thesis also traces the emergence of these two groups of students as part of the anti-colonial struggle in the early 1950s.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University