Did You Know? – Punggol History
Painful Memories of Punggol Beach Massacre
Punggol Beach Massacre was part of the Sook Ching massacre (simplified Chinese: 肃清大屠杀; Japanese: hingapōru Daikenshō シンガポール大検証) that took place during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore after the British colony surrended on 15 Feb 1942. It was an extermination of Chinese activists who donate to Chongqing to fight the Japanese then.
Chinese Men between the ages of 18 to 50 will be brought to “screening centers” by Japanese Kempeitai officers. Those thought to be involved in anti-Japanese activities or those who look suspicious or those who have tattoos associated with secret societies will be chosen and stamped with triangular marks to be held as prisoners or executed. Those who passed through the examinations will be stamped square ink marks/given certificate and released.
Those who did not passed the “screening examination” will be taken to the execution sites at Punggol Beach, Changi Beach and Sentosa to be executed. The Punggol Beach Massacre on 28 February 1942 by the Hojo Kempei firing squad saw about 300 to 400 Chinese shot at Punggol Beach. The current Changi Beach Park was where one of the most brutal killings in Singaporean history was conducted. On 20 February 1942, 66 Chinese males were lined up and shot by the Japanese military police. Berhala Reping at Sentosa Beach was another site where many were executed.
Sook Ching massacre extended to the rest of Malaya especially Penang. According to Singaporean Chinese Community the death toll is estimated to be around 50,000 to 100,000. The war ended in 1947, the British authorities held a War Crime Trial against 7 Japanese Officers responsible for the massacre. 2 of them Masayuki Oishi & Saburo Kawamura received death penalty and the other 5 (Takuma Nishimura, Yoshitaka Yokata, Tomotatsu Jo, Satoru Onishi and Haruji Hisamatsu ) life imprisonment sentence.
After Singapore Independence 1965, Japan agreed to pay $50 million in compensation. The massacre sites at Sentosa, Punggol and Changi were marked as national heritage sites by the National Monuments of Singapore in 1995. They serve to commemorate the end of Japanese occupation and to remind us of those who died during the war.
MM Mr Lee Kuan Yew once said on the Discovery Channel programme which discussed about the Sook Ching Massacre, “It was the catastrophic consequences of the war that changed the mindset, that my generation decided that, ‘No…This doesn’t make sense. We should be able to run this [island] as well as the British did, if not better.'””The Asiatics had looked to them for leadership, and they had failed them.”