History Project: A riot to remember A dramatization of the Maria Hertogh Riots in 1950 Tan Shi Ni Rania Selo Hartano Cheryl Leong Cheng Ivy Miao Jing Low Zhen Jie Deborah Lye M08103 Cast Zhenjie=Che Aminah Ivy=Narrator no. 1 Shini=Narrator no. 2/Dutch person 1/policewoman/lawyer Rania =Maria Hertogh/ Malay rioter 1 Jiahong=Adeline Hertogh/ Dutch person 2 Cheryl=Jury/ Malay rioter 2 Miaojing=Judge Deborah=Mansoor/ Policeman N: Good morning Ms Tan, and fellow classmates. We will be doing a play on the Maria Hertogh riots. Although there are 2 different versions of the story, we are going by Adeline’s version. Now I shall introduce the characters. Rania is Maria, Deborah is Maria’s husband, Mansoor, Jia Hong is Adeline Hertogh, Maria’s biological mother, Zhen Jie is Che Aminah, Maria’s adoptive parent, Shi Ni acts as several roles, Miao Jing is the Judge, Cheryl is the Jury. Throughout the play, there will be some change of roles to fit into the script. N: Maria Huberdina Hertogh was born into a Dutch Catholic family. She was caught in a custody battle between her Catholic biological parents and her Muslim foster mother. They went to court to settle her custody. However, what started out as a custody battle in late 1949 later became bloody and chaotic leaving 18 dead, 173 injured and nearly 200 vehicles burnt or damaged. N: Maria Hertogh’s hearing at court. Judge: Aminah Binte Mohamed, please tell the court your version. Aminah: (meanwhile Deborah, Shi Ni and Rania act out the roles – no sound preferred) Adeline Hertogh, her biological mother, had given her up for adoption in late 1942, and I adopted her. I also told her that I would treat Maria like one of my own, and bring her up in the Muslim faith and she agreed. After the adoption, we continued to visit each other frequently until she left to look for a job and we never saw each other again till 1950. Thus, her custody should be mine. Juge: Adeline Hertogh, please tell the court your version. Adeline: (meanwhile Deborah, Shi Ni and Rania act out the roles – no sound preferred) I was persuaded by my mother after the birth of my 6th child to let Maria stay with Che Aminah in Bandung for 3-4 days. When Maria wasn’t returned to me, I set out on bicycle to fetch my daughter. However, along the way, I was arrested by a Japanese sentry as I did not have a pass. By sending smuggled letters to my mother, my mother sent my children over to me. However, Maria was not sent over, she was still with Aminah. My mother then told me that Aminah wanted to keep Maria for a couple more days and then send her over. However, I did not see my daughter throughout my internment and after I was released, I could not find both Maria and Aminah. (Jury pretend to discuss with judge.) Jury: We have all come to a decision and I shall announce the verdict; Ms Maria Huberdina Hertogh is to be returned to her biological parents, Mr and Mrs Adrainus Petrus Hertogh. N: Che Aminah was very unwilling to give Maria back. She appealed against the court order and succeeded. Che Aminah: HAH! In your face. Adeline: (cries) N: On 1st August 1950, Aminah arranged for Maria, only 13 years old then, to marry a Malay teacher in training at Bukit Panjang Government School, Mansoor Adabi, to make Adeline Hertogh give up on taking Maria back. But the newly wed couple did NOT do ANYTHING. (Emphasize) Meanwhile, Adeline got the lawyers to deliver a letter demanding the return of Maria. (Stage is being split into half, the left featuring Adeline and Lawyer; the right featuring Aminah and Mansoor; or vice versa. Lawyer: Mrs Hertogh, if they do not return Maria by the 10th of August, we can take legal action. Adeline: YES YES YES! Now they have no choice. N: Aminah and Mansoor received the letter. Aminah: Mansoor, we’ve got mail from the Hertoghs. They say that if we don’t return Maria by 10th August, they will take legal action. What do we do? Mansoor: Do not do anything, mother. She is married to me. They can’t do anything to Maria. Aminah: Yes, indeed. We shall ignore the deadline. Mansoor: -nod-nod- Adeline: They did not abide to the letter. Let’s take legal action on them! N: Therefore, Che Aminah was taken to court by Adeline. They fought in the court for Maria’s custody. The hearing began on 20th November. Adeline travelled down to Singapore to attend the hearing. The marriage, instead of solving the matter, complicated it. Judge: I have 2 issues to raise today – firstly, Maria’s marriage, and secondly, her custody. Maria’s marriage is invalid because she was underage and although Muslims allow underage marriages, she was born to a Dutch family, and girls there aren’t allowed to get married until they are 16 years of age. Regarding the custody of Maria, I have to consider her well-being in the future besides her current situation. Moreover, Mr Adrianus Hertogh, Maria’s biological father, has not abrogated his parental rights. Therefore, the custody should be awarded to the Hertoghs with immediate effect. (bangs hammer) Court dismissed! N: When the hearing ended, policewomen came to take Maria to a girls’ home for temporary stay. Maria: NO!! I don’t want to leave with this unknown person! I know who my mother is! *bawls & hugs mansoor and Aminah* (what a touching scene) N: Maria Hertogh was put in a convent and was made to stay there against her own will. Pictures of Maria surrounded by Christian faith offended the muslims as they felt she was one of their own and this triggered anger between the muslims and Dutch. N: On 11th December 1950, the appeal hearing opened. Maria stayed in her convent and did not attend. Crowds of supporters gathered at the supreme court that day. N: In less than five minutes later… Judge comes out and says: The jury has decided, Maria Hertogh shall stay with her biological parents. Random Muslim supporter: What?! This is so unfair! You are clearly biased against us Muslims! Random Muslim supporter2: Exactly! This is an outrage! -Murmur of agreement through crowd- Anger aroused in heated argument. *voices get louder to shrills* The Muslims starts marching across the street. When they see a couple of Eurasians having coffee/tea nearby, they walk towards them. One of them picks up a hammer from the ground and hides it behind the back. They tap on the Eurasians’ shoulders (allowing them to stand up first). The Eurasians turn around and smile, saying: “Hi!” The Muslims says: Hi! (Then one of them swings the hammer around, and attacks.) The Eurasians are shocked and run for their lives. The Muslims chase them around the Theatrette. A policeman guarding the Supreme Court: Oh there is some chasing over there! Um… OH I see, it’s a riot! (Chases after the people.) The policeman chases after the Eurasians: Are you Dutchmen? Are you Dutchmen? (Without waiting for an answer – attacks them brutally.) -Signages waving around and banners- All rioters chant: DOWN WITH THE DUTCH!!! Police officer: This is useless. We won’t be able to stop them. We need to call in the British Military. Police officer2: Yes, of course. (Calls with telephone and pretends to speak with British officer) Into phone: Hello? Sir, we have a problem… British officer announces over PA: People of Singapore. Please listen up, this is important. We have just imposed a 24-hour curfew and all of you are required to stay at home for your own safety. Everyone on the streets is to seek shelter in their residences NOW. Those who disobey will be dealt with severely. (British policemen start to go around Singapore to inform them and ensure that all people are safe in their homes.) Narrator 1: After the riots, the police set up a special investigation unit which detained the rioters. They brought rioting charges against 200 people, of whom 25 were acquitted, 100 were convicted and 62 referred to the Enquiry Advisory Committee. Seven people were brought to trial at the Assize Court for wanton killing and five of them were subsequently sentenced to death on the gallows. Narrator 2: On 25 August 1951, Tunku Abdul Rahman immediately set out to save the seven on death row. Gathering support from the Muslim population, Abdul Rahman placed pressure on the British authorities, who finally gave in and the death sentences for all five were commuted to life imprisonment. Everyone: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE HAPPENINGS? WHO DO YOU THINK MARIA HERTOGH REALLY BELONGS TO? tHINK ABOUT IT.. What we want the audiences to take back At the end of our play, we hope our audience would be more informed about information on this riot and also to understand both sides of the story (Adeline’s and Che Aminah’s version), the difficulties of both parties and how the two different sides interpreted the situation at that time. Leaving them to decide for themselves who they really think Maria’s custody should go to as we did not side anyone. Adeline or Che Aminah Maria Hertogh riots overview started on 11 December 1950 caused by outraged Muslims who resented the court decision to give the custody of Maria Hertogh (or Bertha Hertogh), then 13, to her biological Dutch Catholic parents after she had been raised as a Muslim under the care of Aminah binte Mohamed, whom she regarded as her mother. lasted till noon on 13 December 18 killed, 173 injured and many properties damaged – the worst incident of its kind ever witnessed in Singapore.
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