Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"we want gay! we want gay!"

black and white photos from national archives

i was with two senior friends who were talking about their school-days in their alma mater in the late 50s and early 60s. while reminiscing about the old times, they mentioned something interesting which happened in their school in 1960. i had heard about schools like the chinese high and even nanyang girls' where the students were instigated to go on strike but not an english-medium school going on strike.

the strike involved about 500 students. the day had begun normally with the students attending the 7.45 morning service in the school hall.

at 8.30 a.m. the students took our banners and placards which they had carefully hidden, unfurled the banners and displayed the placards all over the school premises. according to one of my friends, the school brass band led the demonstration by playing marching tunes. the protesting students kept shouting "we want gay! we want gay!" .

the students even barricaded the school gates using their classroom's desks and chairs.

it seemed their grievance was with the board of governors for their decision to replace the then principal mr gay wan guay with another teacher in the same school. mr gay had been with the school for more than 20 years and he was credited with bringing about improvements to the school and in moulding the boys' brigade into one of the best units in singapore.

the striking students eventually agreed to end their protest when promised that mr gay's position would be reconsidered.

my friends even took me to koon seng road to look at the site where their former school once stood. today, haig girls' school sits on a piece of land adjacent to the site of the former presbyterian boys' school.


unk Dicko said...

That 2 photos rekindled my copious memory of the school PBS( Primary and Secondary )from the 60's to the 80's.
It was the first school I taught in and I was there for 17 long years.
Gay W G was a very popular principal, much loved and respected by many.
Looks like I may know your 2 senior friends or vice-versa.

Anonymous said...

That building in the second photo was Kuo Chuan Girls.