Singapore Police Force n Nightclub Scene:
"Mata. Mata lai leow. (cops are here). Time is tight man! Let's make a run for it before we get caught by the special squad!" The nightclubs in the 1960's were usually quiet with conflicts and rowdiness more or else contained.
But there were instances when fights and clashes erupted and the police would appear quickly to appease the situation and handle the trouble makers.
Guru Happy, who now lives in Vancouver is here again to discuss certain tough areas that he had been patrolling those years. Personal names have been left out and the article has been edited:
|*d'Starlights: Karate-kicks on stage before music performance.|
This group were karate exponents and would include some Japanese art of self-defence techniques at the beginning of their music performance to show the gangsters their own agility.
|Is this a **BLACK MARIA with reinforced steel bars?|
|Elvis Presley spells trouble in King Creole.|
Cathay Nite Club and Restaurant at the Cathay Cinema at Mount Sophia and Handy Road was another favourite joint and that was where my present better half and I had our first date, together with childhood friends, a well-known radio DJ and another friend who was one of Singapore's great footballers. We grew up together in primary school and if we didn't frequent the nightclubs we would spend most of our time on the soccer field in Queenstown.
|Nightclubs in the 50s and 60s|
|Angchia (red van) arrests begin with warning messages over loudspeakers.|
Call them what you will: triad, secret societies, thugs or samseng kia, these criminal organisations were known to identify themselves using numerals like 08 or 329. In the 60's gangsters would be detained under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Ordinance. In the month of February 1965 alone more than 3,000 suspects were screened and about a dozen gangsters arrested. They lived in hideouts at Geylang, Yeo Chu Kang, Havelock, Chinatown and other areas.
Undercover police officers who dressed like thugs would penetrate hideouts and together with ex-gangsters recruited by the police, raid dens and red-light areas like Geylang and Sago Lane. The exploits of these reformed criminals were legendary as they helped to capture some of the worst in our society.
Mata mata means Eyes in the Malay Language. It is the colloquial term for Policemen.
|Gangsters caught by the mata-mata and arm-pai. From stomp.com.sg|
Vinyl from d'Starlights: It's Soul Man with A Man Without Love, Hip Hug Her, El Pussy Cat and Louie Louie on EMI/ECHK 598.
Police vans to transport prisoners inside a specially adapted cell in the vehicle; also for rapid transport of police officers to an incident.
The vehicle most gangsters fear was the ang-chia or red van, used to round up troublemakers and placed under arrest. They would be escorted under heavy guard in these red vans and charged at the police station. Such vehicles have been phased out today and replaced with smaller ones.
Images from: Google, stomp.com.sg, Andy Lim Collection.
Original article: Guru Happy from Vancouver, BC.