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Many Chinese were ordered to assemble at various centres for screening by the occupying Japanese Imperial Army in Operation Sook Ching – A massacre that claimed about 50,000 lives. Operation Sook Ching was a systematic extermination of perceived hostile elements.
The figures of the death toll vary. Official Japanese statistics show fewer than 5000 while the Singaporean Chinese community claims the numbers to be around 100,000. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister who ruled Singapore from 1959 to 1990, said that the estimated death toll was, “somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 young men, Chinese”.
After the fall of Singapore, Lieutenant-Colonel Masayuki Oishi, commander of Kempeitai (Japanese Military Police), set up his headquarters in the YMCA Building at Stamford Road as the Kempeitai District Branch. The Japanese soldiers then set up designated “screening centers” all over Singapore to gather and “screen” all Chinese males between the ages of 18 and 50. Those who were thought to be “anti-Japanese” would be marked.
Those marked would be separated from the others and packed into trucks near the centers and sent to the killing sites. There were several sites for the killings, the most notable ones being Changi Beach Park, Punggol Beach, Tanah Merah Beach and Berhala Reping (Serapong Golf Course) at Sentosa. Chinese males were lined up along the edge of the sea and shot by the Kempeitai.