Monday, August 06, 2018

Communists In Singapore: Western Pop Regressive! Rediffusion Yellow Culture


Good friend Mr James Kwok wrote to me about his experiences as a young boy in Singapore when communist cadres were present in his own family. I thought his tale intriguing. Here it is in full bloom. 

Thanks, James for the contribution. Below is his article:

"Back in the 1950's (and into the 60's) the adults in my family regarded China as their homeland: to them, the greatest thoughts in the world were those of chairman Mao. 

They participated wholeheartedly in the anti-yellow culture campaign to remove decadent western influences (such as jukeboxes, striptease shows and the yellow press) in early self-governing Singapore. 
Those communists cadres in my family considered western pop music as regressive and mentally-retarding - because they had promiscuity-promoting words like love, kiss and darling.

So, to catch the forbidden music I had to sneak to an Indian neighbour's house to listen to Rediffusion Silver Network's request programmes and scribble down the words of the latest English pop songs. 
Back in my house, right in the face of the communist cadres, I would sing the memorised songs silently to protest victoriously against the oppression. And back in school, coming up first with the complete words of the latest pop song (for the others to copy) did give me bragging rights. 

There's also a side benefit - my doing well in English spelling and dictation. All those British and American pop singers were my heroes, and their songs were my motivational anthems, in my personal civil rights movement."

By James Kwok (image above) who has written a few articles for this blog.

Songs that have the words 'love', 'kiss', 'darling.' and music (such as rock'n'roll) that promotes "decadent western yellow culture" was banned by the PRC-loving communist cadres I had to live with.

So the prohibited list included such popular songs as Paul Anka's I Love You, Baby, and Diana; Petula Clark's I Love You With All My Heart; Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock and Kiss Me Quick; Neil Sedaka's Oh Carol; Bill Haley & His Comets' Rock Around The Clock and Shirley Bassey's Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me.

Even a slow number like Russ Hamilton's We Will Make Love wasn't spared, because of that offensive last word in the title.


NB:

James Kwok Facebook site:
https://www.facebook.com/james.kwok.391?fref=nf

Read about:
China's National Anthem by Edwin Goh (Former Director of RELC in Singapore.)
https://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2017/10/chinas-national-anthem.html
Rock n Roll 50's Mix: Video from djdirtybeat: 51 million viewers of Yellow Culture. 😊

(The photographs are for illustrative purpose only. There is no intention to promote nor degrade any ideology.)

11 comments:

STEPHEN HAN said...

James siblings must be studying in Chinese schools.

During Lim Yew Hock's time as a chief minister there were lots of workers' strikes. One was the Hock Lee Bus strike which had the support of Chinese School students. These students were also against National Service.

In one incident these students camped themselves at the Chinese Middle School. However they were evicted by the police. Some of the leaders were banished to China, and others on their own accord.

JAMES KWOK (WRITER OF ARTICLE) said...

Thanks for your pictures that enhanced my words.

The 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution in China did some good for Singapore: it scared business people to take their money out of HK and Taiwan. This flow of hot money into Singapore helped our fledgling industrialization efforts.

Personally I think the way the Red Guards over-ran China (and before that the 1948-1960s communist supported bloody riots in Singapore) got our LKY to be on hyper alert against any possible communist-inspired movement.

Looking at how the Red Guards got people targeted by Mao and/or the Gang of Four to jump from high buildings without parachute or bungee ropes, LKY certainly didn't want Singapore to fall to the Communists, who don't believe in a win-win situation.



ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks James for your inspiring article.

I remember reading how, in China, children were indoctrinated very young to tell on their parents who listen to the radio secretly. The parents were taken to the camps and beheaded.

Would be interesting if you could list some of the songs you listen to over Rediffusion. Makes for nostalgic reading. After all ours is a music blog...

MICHAEL LEE (SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA) said...

Hi Andy

This is my humble view and comment: Often the principles and ideologies are good - it is their interpretation and appliication that goes wrong.

A true leader is someone who serves and lead, but alas the reality in this modern world is - leaders lead, more often than not, to feed their own greed.

Cheerio.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes Michael, that's very true of many ideologies. And interpretation is a factor, let alone the application. In different times, the final result could either create chaos and calamity or stability and success.

Thanks for your view.

JERRY SARAM said...

Your friend, James Kwok's narration of the Singapore scene of the 1950's and early 1960's
brought back some memories of that period. In fact many of the political parties and trade unions of that period were infiltrated with communist cadres, including the PAP.

But these cadres broke away from the PAP in '62 or '63 to form the Barisan Sosialis and were the main opposition party in Parliament. Many of their prominent leaders were imprisoned or banished from Singapore. I

These people included: Lim Chin Siong, Jamit Singh and the Puthucheary brothers James and Dominic. The latter is the father of our Senior Minister of State Janil Puthucheary. Our Education Minister's (Ong Ye Kun) father, a Barisan Socialist member of Parliament was also imprisoned.

The mention of 'yellow culture' brought back tragic memories too. I think in 1959, twelve teachers were dismissed for being caught watching porn (blue films). They were first timers who had gone to watch the films out of curiosity. They were accused of giving in to yellow culture. They easily got teaching jobs in Malaya. I think they were compensated financially later.

Those were hectic days for teachers. The government imposed a six-day week to follow the Chinese schools. They reverted to the five day week a few years later.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

James Kwok's writing is overpowering and his focus is sharp. Hopefully some readers will also comment on the music aspect of this posting and tell us their song-choice those years when the Communists were within our midst.

Do write in.

Thanks very much to those who have provided detailed comments, including Michael Lee, Stephen Han and especially Jerry Saram, who wrote about the communist infiltration into the trade unions and political parties.

STEPHEN HAN said...

In the early years either you attend a Chinese school like Chung Cheng Tao Nan, Chung Hwa, Nan Hwa, etc. or your parents enrolled you at SJI, RI or ACS that taught the students in English. My father put all his children in English Schools as he figured his child would be able to find jobs.

KOH SUI PANG FB said...

Never came in contact with communists... just lucky lor !!!!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

You were too young Sui Pang. Budak lagi.

JAMES KWOK (WRITER OF ARTICLE) said...

Songs that have the words 'love', 'kiss', 'darling.' and music (such as rock'n'roll) that promotes "decadent western yellow culture" was banned by the PRC-loving communist cadres I had to live with.

So the prohibited list included such popular songs as Paul Anka's I Love You, Baby, and Diana; Petula Clark's I Love You With All My Heart; Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock and Kiss Me Quick; Neil Sedaka's Oh Carol; Bill Haley & His Comets' Rock Around The Clock and Shirley Bassey's Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me.

Even a slow number like Russ Hamilton's We Will Make Love wasn't spared, because of that offensive last word in the title.