An Introduction of Fong Swee Suan
Fong Swee Suan, 76, is a legendary figure among workers in
Fong Swee Suan was the Secretary General of the Singapore Bus Workers Union, which explains how he became involved in the Hock Lee Bus Riots in 1955, where workers demanded better working conditions.
Together with Lim Chin Siong and other trade union leaders in
Fong Swee Suan was born on
His Father and elder brother opened a laundry shop to earn a living. The business flourished. Many of the customers were mostly Malays. His mother, on the other hand, bought a piece of land to grow fruit trees and plants as cash crops, so that the family could earn a bit more money from the produce. This resulted in causing the family to live separately. To him, his mother was a big influence to him as she had taught him right values and good character.
Although he did not come from a wealthy family, he studied hard and did not give up. Unfortunately, he was halfway through his education when the World War II started. When World War II ended, he continued his education in primary school, studying in Primary Four. However, he was much older than his classmates who were studying in that level. He continued to pursue his studies and graduated in 1948.
In 1949, he left home to further his studies in
After he left school in 1950, he became a Secretary in the Singapore Bus Workers’
In May 1955, he initiated and lead in the Hock Lee Bus Riot. The services of bus transport were severely disrupted paralyzed as buses were prevented from leaving as the strikers formed human barriers by sitting on the ground. It was on the 23rd of April when the workers of the Hock Lee Amalgated bus Co, who were members of the pro-communist Singapore Bus Workers’
The strike was rumored to be instigated by pro-communists. However, it was more likely to have been fanned by anti-colonial sentiments.
The strikers stopped the buses from leaving the depots and crippled the country's entire transport system. In a show of support, students from the Chinese Middle schools came in busloads to join the strikers. They organized donation drives, brought food and money, and even entertained the workers with songs and dances. Other workers also expressed support.
The police attempted to disperse the picketers many times. On April 27, 1955, police tried to break up the strikers and injured 15 people. This gained more public sympathy and support for the strikers.
In 1957, at Changi Detention Centre, Lim Chin Siong and other communists signed a treaty written by Chengara Veetil Devan Nair.
After Fong Swee Suan criticized the manpower policy in PAP, he was transferred to become a politic secretary of the deputy prime minister’s office.
July 1961, he objected to the idea of merger with
He retired on 1996 and continued on an arts research and got an MBA and a PhD degree from another university. He has three children, his eldest daughter, Xiu Min is an architect. His eldest son, Fang Yong Jin, is a mechanical engineer. His youngest son, Fang Yong Zheng, is an electrical engineer.
The police managed to stop the violence by the next morning. Later, Hock Lee Bus Company and the SBWU signed a ruling issued by the Court of Inquiry. The strikers' jobs and pay were restored and they declared victory for their action. However, because of the unexpected violence, public opinion became more critical towards the rioters. The Chief Minister of
However, the students were defiant. On 16 May 1955, about two thousand students forced their way into the two schools. Anxious parents, friends and supporters came daily to give students food, clothing and money.
Done By: Joycelyn Moh (10), Cheryl Tan (21), Wong Ting Yen (25), Yip Zhi Yi (26) 2 diligence!