British As Rulers

Before Japanese Occupation


{British troops in Singapore}

Many people believed that European culture was far superior than other cultures and races.There was little local involvement in the government. Most  of the high-ranking officials in the colonial government were British, and even well-qualified local people were not given important positions in the government.Not only was the British superiority reflected in politics but also in daily life as the Europeans in Singapore were given privileged treatment. One example of the superiority of the Europeans would be when a younger British teacher greeted an older British teacher and called him “sir”, but the local teacher was embarrassed due to the fact that he was a mere local and the teacher was a British. Also, the British teacher’s salary was $400 higher than the local teacher’s salary, despite the local teacher having far more years of experience in teaching compared to the British teacher. Therefore, many viewed the British of being more superior than others.

During  Japanese Occupation  

surrendered sg

{British surrendering to the Japanese}

The British were no longer considered as rulers of Singapore. The Japanese strived their best to dispel the “White man’s” superiority and to change people’s view about the British as they believed that Asians were just as superior as the British. They did this by turning the British into POWS (Prisoners Of War) and forcing them to do menial tasks outside of their camps, such as repairing and sweeping the road floors.  The Japanese also provided the POWS with very little food and water, causing them to be malnourished. When the locals and other people saw the British suffering, they lost their belief of the “White Man’s” superiority. Also, the British educated the public that the Asians were just as equal as the British through various forms of propaganda such as posters and books. Hence, the British were no longer seen as rulers.

After Japanese Occupation

british surrender

 {British claiming dictatorship of Singapore once again}

After the Japanese Occupation, the people did not really regard the British as rulers. There was growing discontent with the British as the conditions remained almost the same even after the British returned. Houses were scarce, there were insufficient jobs and schools and the cost of living remained high due to the black market. Even after the British set up a British Military Administration (BMA), there was not much change in the living conditions of the people. Due to these problems, many immigrants and locals wanted to govern themselves and some even joined trade unions and and conducted strikes to better secure their wages and to improve their working conditions. Thus, both the locals and immigrants did not view British as their rulers. 


Done by: Hai Tao, Brian, Shao Kai, Deekshitha, Lakshmi

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