Operation Sook Ching

By Wong, Heng written on 1997-09-29
National Library Board Singapore

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Operation Sook Ching meaning "to purge" or "eliminate" was a massive Japanese exercise to ferret the local Chinese community for anti-Japanese elements, conducted by the 25th Army beginning on 18 February 1942 and resulting in the massacre of thousands of local Chinese.

The Sino-Japanese War of 1937 had generated Japanese hostility against the Chinese. During that time, the local Chinese community in Singapore had been active in providing support to their homeland including boycotting purchase of Japanese goods. With the invasion of Singapore in February 1942, many Chinese activists joined the underground anti-Japanese movement. To aggravate matters, most of the officers of the 25th Army that invaded Singapore were veterans of the Sino-Japanese War. With the 25th Army weakened by the Malayan campaign, General Yamashita ordered on 18 February 1942 for notices to be posted, recalling Chinese men between the ages of 18 to 50 to congregate at concentration centres. The island was divided into four sections under the charge of the various divisions of the 25th Army who then garrisoned the Chinese population. Official figures record up to 6,000 victims but unofficial figures range between 25,000 to 50,000.

Massacre sites
Ponggol Beach.
Changi Beach/ Changi Spit Beach: Victims from Bukit Timah/Stevens Road (Sook Ching point).
Changi Road 8 ms 300 acre plantation (Samba Ikat village): 250 victims from Changi 8 ms (Sook Ching point).
ougang 8 ms: Six lorry loads of people were said to have been massacred here.
Katong 7 ms: 20 trenches were dug.
Beach opposite 27 Amber Road: Two lorry loads of people were said to have been massacred here; the site is now a car park.
Tanah Merah Beach/Tanah Merah Besar Beach: 242 victims taken from Jalan Besar Sook Ching point; currently a runway of Changi airport.
Thomson Road: Sime Road, near golf course and the villages in the vicinity.
Katong, East Coast Road: 732 victims from Telok Kurau School (Sook Ching point).
Siglap area, Bedok South Avenue/Bedok South Road: Previously known as Jalan Puay Poon.
Blakang Mati Beach, off the Sentosa Golf Course: Many bodies of the massacred victims were washed ashore and were buried.


Wong Heng

Tan, B. L. (1996). The Japanese Occupation 1942-1945: A pictorial record of Singapore during the war (pp. 52-53, 56, 67-68). Singapore: Times Editions.
(Call no.: RSING 940.5425 TAN)

Further Readings
Perumbulavil Vilasini. (1992). From Singapore to Syonan-to 1941-1945: A select bibliography. Singapore: Reference Services Division , National Library.
(Call no.: RSING 016.95957023 PER)

Sook Ching. (1992). Singapore: Oral History Dept.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57023 SOO) 

The Japanese Occupation: Singapore 1942 - 1945 (pp. 39-44). (1985). Singapore: Archives & Oral History Dept.
(Call no.: RSING 779.995957 JAP)

The information in this article is valid as at 1999 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Events>>Historical Periods>>World War II and Japanese Occupation (1939-1945)
Singapore--History--Japanese occupation, 1942-1945
History>>Asia>>Southeast Asia>>Singapore