Thursday, January 23, 2014

1957 Singapore: Rock n Roll Might Encourage Riots

                    Topic: That Singapore Youth Is Not Given Enough Independence.

Even in the late 50s, Singapore students argued about "not getting enough independence" from their parents. A friendly debate amongst a family of three mission schools, St Andrew's, St Margaret's and St Hilda's resulted in a battle of words with rock and roll music as target.
Saints' school badge.
One speaker suggested that rock and roll was the result of parents trying to control their children excessively. Another member of the team agreed that the music was "healthy fun" but pessimistic parents thought it was an "inclination to riot."
Saint Margaret's School badge.
An opposing member of the debating team argued that if independence meant rioting on the streets after viewing a rock and roll movie, then she would have, "none of it." And as the dance became a hot issue another debater suggested that rock and roll meant the independence of youth. To show his support, a classmate from St. Andrew's, Wong Peng Koon shouted, "Long live rock and roll!" He was a school debater and is now a prominent lawyer.
St. Hilda's School badge.
But the debate was brought back into focus when a speaker quietly suggested that independence carried responsibilities such as "obeying the law." So who says youths in the 50s are quiet and reserved? Not true. We've had our say. And rock n roll is here to stay. And who won the debate? Ah, you must read it from The Straits Times Press Singapore.

Were you in this debate? Tell us.

Information from: The Straits Times Singapore (page: 3, 27/07/1957) and original article has been edited by Andy Lim.

Image: from Google Images

This posting was taken from the back pages because of the interesting topic it discusses, a Singapore favourite Google word search currently - riots.


Andy said...

I have put up 'Ray's' notes and my answers for all to read. I feel that somewhere out there someone will help him in his research. These notes are personal ones from him. My answer follows:

Hi Ray,
A protected email reveals much. As I explained in my profile I am not a guru on Sing60s music but am in a learning process, so please provide me some info about yourself and your interest in the subject because whatever info that I may provide may not be helpful.

You have been specific in your request ie: funk and soul but what little I know has been discussed.

Do write again to tell me your exact needs. Only then I may be able to help.


Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

Thanks for getting back to me. You seem to know a lot about '60s Asian music so I'm hoping you can help me.

What I'm basically looking for is Western music that has influenced Asia in the '60s and '70s. That's how I found your blog and the post you made on Grace Chang and "Mambo Girl."

From what I've found so far, there's a lot of surf rock and go-go inspired pop music, however I'm looking particularly for funk and soul music inspired tracks (think James Brown, The Temptations) and to a lesser extent, jazz.

Funk and soul originated in the late '60s and '70s in the West, so it may have taken longer to permeate to the East.

A bit about me, I'm Chinese, but was born in England. My influences are predominately Western; I do not speak Chinese, but I have an affinity for my heritage and culture.

Let me know how you can help or if you could point me to people who might know more on the matter.


Andy Young* said...

This letter has been edited:

Hi Ray,

Thanks for the reply. Your best bet is to check out Durian Dave. Website:

Another way is to buy some EPs and LPs produced in SEAsia. Most of the recordings, even in the 60s and 70s, are done in studios in Singapore because of the strict quality control.

I have some of these "funk and soul inspired tracks" so if you can provide specific song titles (provided I have them) and I can post them on the blog once in a way.

The libraries in Singapore are not much of a help as PAST copies of newspapers, pop magazines are only available in the repositories and reference sections. You need to pay $1 for an A4 size photocopy and images have strict copyright.

Some so called enthusiasts are out to exploit the market and put on CDs, tracks of 60s Asian music, and sell them. Pirated discs such as these are plentiful.

Perhaps a trip to your nearest Chinatown (Soho?) or those in Amsterdam, etc can bag you a wholeful. Unless you are doing research or for a specific purpose.

Singapore 60s and 70s music lived and died during that period Ray. Not many people are interested in it anymore.

There could have been a recent revival but I am no specialist to confirm this. I am doing all this for fun because I was an insignificant part of that bygone era.

Some of the interested ones exploit the situation, burn CDs on their home computers and sell them in the market. Personally I have nothing against them.

What about royalty? The poor chaps in the 60s who wrote the music don't earn a dime either.

Keep in touch.

Anonymous said...

A final note from Ray. Please help him if you can:

Hi Andy,

During my research, I came across Dave's blog; I haven't contacted him, but it looks like I will.

I've had a bit of luck on some officially released CD compilations, but not enough to warrant an actual understanding of the genre in Asia.

With regards to your "funk and soul inspired tracks," if you can list the artist and album names (and perhaps links to YouTube videos of the songs if they exist so I can listen to them), I can tell you if the songs sound like those I'm looking for.

Thank you for your help so far. Every bit helps. This is a little research project of mine to enlighten my curiosity of funk and soul in Asia and whether or not the genres made any impact in the Asian musical scene.


Andy said...

This letter has been edited:

Hi Ray,

Below are what I have left in my computer; the rest you have to search. Take care, Ray. Do write and let me know your progress.

If you wish to put up your thesis proposal on my blog, it's fine. Do a nice one, with your picture if you wish. Or an attractive but serious avatar.

Sorry I couldn't be of much help. I am doing all this for fun.

Andy Young* said...

I have put up these letters only now because Ray has not answered my last letter. I hope he is doing OK with his thesis.

If anyone wishes to help Ray with it please write in.

I hope if Ray reads it, he will be able to respond to the person in writing.

Both can write to me again at:


A jukebox site has been introduced on the main page where you can listen to yesterday. Articles of interest are available for easy reading, a nice connection for the 60s music fan. Check your RIGHT BAR.


Hi Andy
Not sure if anyone has seen this but a friend forwarded this to me. Some of the people listening to the older Malay sons may be interested -

Andy Lim* said...

Thank you UNSUNG HERO. I am sure many readers would be interested in reading about pianist Ooi. I shall put up a posting about him soon and connect it to the blog. I appreciate your contribution.