Monday, June 18, 2012

Maria Hertogh Riots


Alright, so I am going to be talking about the Maria Hertogh Riots. The Maria Hertogh Riots were in the 1950s and the cause of it was …(gasps of astonishment)…Maria Hertogh.

The story is kind of complicated, but basically it all started back in 1942, 29th December. World War II was on, and the Maria Hertogh’s father had been arrested by Japanese soldiers. To make things worse, Maria Hertogh’s mother, Adeline Hertogh, had given birth to a son and could not afford to support Maria. Therefore, she put Maria under the care of Che Aminah, a 42 year old Muslim woman, and Maria had stayed there for 8 years.

So far so good right. Okay, but this is when things get messed up. After this, there are two versions of the story. One was by Adeline Hertogh and the other by Che Aminah. Both of them fought over the custody of Maria, and at the end of 1950, they brought the case to court:




Ouch. Remind me not to make 3 comic strips in one day again.

As I was saying, Adeline and Che Aminah had different accounts on what happened. According to Adeline, her mother had convinced her to let Maria stay with Che Aminah for 3 and 4 days while she recovered from the birth of her 6th child on the 29th December 1942. Afterwards, she went to collect Maria back, but instead was arrested by Japanese soldiers. She claimed that she smuggled many letters out,requesting for her daughter back, but to no avail. Che Aminah rejected the story, and said that Adeline had given Maria up for adoption. She also rejected the part about her being arrested by Japanese soldiers, claiming that Adeline visited her frequently around that time to check how Maria was doing, and then left for good until 1950.

It was a difficult decision for the court. They had little evidence that either of the stories were true. Eventually, though, they decided that Adeline’s story was more convincing, and announce that Maria would live with her biological mother, Adeline, until an appeal was made.

So how was Maria feeling about all this? Was she happy to be going back to her biological parents? Well, she had to leave Che Aminah, she was in tears, and only after a lot of persuasion and time, did she reluctantly leave in the car that would bring her back to her mother.

However, for Maria, there would be a light at the end of the tunnel, as there was new evidence that made Adeline’s story doubtful. There was doubt over a small detail in her story, but it was enough for the court. Maria was handed back to Che Aminah, and both of them were overjoyed.

For a while, it was a happy ending, but it did not stay that way for long. In the short 4 days after the appeal, Maria had gotten married to a 22 year old Muslim named Mansoor Adabi. This was big news, and Maria’s parents were not happy about it. Even Muslim citizens were doubtful about the marriage. While Maria was technically allowed to be married according to Islamic law (That’s the law of the Muslims), some Islamic countries still only allowed it at 16. This led to Maria’s parents holding a second appeal, and this time, they won. Again, there was great unhappiness between Maria and Che Aminah, and Che Aminah even fainted.

While Maria and Che Aminah were unhappy, the rest of the Muslim community were fuming. Mainstream newspapers had shown pictures of  Maria being happy with her parents. In anger, the Malay press retorted with pictures of Maria crying and sitting unhappily in a church. After a while, this escalated, and that started the Maria Hertogh Riots.

I won’t go too much into the riots, but it was one of the biggest riots in Singapore history. At the peak, 2000-3000 people gathered outside the Supreme court, some of which were not even Muslim, and attacked any European they saw, also overturning their cars and burning them. Even the police were not very helpful. Some of the lower ranked policemen were sympathetic with the Muslims and did not fight very hard to keep them down. 18 people were killed and 173 injured. About 800 people were arrested, and many were given harsh punishments, including life inprisonment.

Overall, the Maria Hertogh Riots were extremely unfortunate. It definitely shouldn’t have happened, and it is an example the destructive result of racial disharmony and it is something that we must not repeat.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article but i LOVE the comic! You got me laughing hard there.. hahas.. Great job! :D