The Singapore police force 1918 - 1938

  • Martin Kenneth Andrew

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    The Singapore Police Force was ill prepared in 1918 for the next two decades it was to face. It was seriously understaffed due to the First World War and had serious trouble coping with emergent Chinese nationalism and the secret society violence that erupted in 1919 and throughout the 1920s. The 1919 anti-Japanese riots showed the power of Chinese nationalism, and the colonial authorities were determined to keep a lid on that and any other political movements. That the police force succeeded was due to its officers' professionalism and the reorganisation that occurred under the Denham reforms in the late 1920s. Central to their success, the Denham Reforms discontinued the practice of the police sharing the suppressing of secret societies and communism with the Chinese Protectorate. The Denham reforms also established specialist teams inside the branch to fight the various clan based secret societies. The Special Branch was made an independent part of the police force and worked with other colonial police forces to attack communism in Singapore and other parts of Asia. Although crippled by a series of well planned raids in the late 1920s and early 1930s the communists nevertheless managed to keep itself together. From 1937 by using the various anti-Japanese National Salvation movements the Malayan Communist Party regained its strength. The strength of the economy after the turmoil of the depression also the secret societies regain some of their former strength. However both were kept in check as the Singapore Police Force had benefited from the reorganisations that had taken place due to the Denham reforms. The 1930s also saw the police force consolidate and receive new arms and equipment so by 1938 the Singapore Police Force was as well equipped for riot control as the world's best.
    Date of AwardJul 2000
    Original languageEnglish

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