Lee Kuan Yew


The afternoon of 21 July 1964, a public holiday, was warm and sunny. About 20,000 Malays and Muslims gathered at the Padang attending a mass rally celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. They were representatives of social, welfare, religious and political organisations in Singapore, listening to speeches by religious leaders. But the atmosphere surrounding the Padang was very tense. Since September 1963, extremist United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) leaders in Kuala Lumpur had purposely launched a campaign playing up the sensitive issues of race, language and religion raising the emotion and sentiment of Malays against the Chinese. The main reason for this…