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As it Happened. -

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(generated from captions) and wrote an explosive theory

70 years before the famous work
of his grandson, Charles Darwin.

Here's his description
of that great process.

(READS) "Would it be
too bold to imagine

"perhaps millions of ages

"before the commencement
of the history of mankind,

"that all warm-blooded animals

"have arisen
from one living filament

"possessing the faculty
of continuing to improve

"by its own inherent activity,

"and of delivering down
those improvements by generation

"to its posterity,
world without end?"

Erasmus Darwin's theory
of the origins of life

in effect declared that
everything the Church had asked

the entire Christian world
to believe

about how God had made the
earth and everything in it,

was simply untrue.

Darwin had used science

to challenge its greatest enemy
in unarguable terms.

The Church would never fully recover
from Darwin's attack.

From Newton to Darwin,

science was displacing God
from an active role in the universe,

and moving man towards the centre.

The Enlightenment
had flooded the Western world

with books full of new ideas
of freedom, progress and reason.

It had declared war on the power
and authority of the Church,

and deployed new technologies

to improve the lives
of ordinary people.

But absolute monarchies and rich
elites were still in control.

The next program will tell
the stories of three men

who tried to change
the societies in which they lived

by putting
Enlightenment ideas into practice.

Through their efforts,

the organisation of government,
the rights of individuals,

and the structure of society itself
would be changed forever.

Supertext Captions by
Red Bee Media Australia
Captions copyright SBS 2013

Hello, I'm Ricardo Goncalves. Tony Abbott has told World News Australia he'd like to be known as the infrastructure Prime Minister if elected, but still maintains tomorrow's vote will be close. Either side can still win. It comes as Kevin Rudd made his final election pitch on the NSW Central Coast. The massive logistical operation of managing millions of voters around the country is under way. A record 2.7 million Australians have already beaten the queue. That's up from up from 2.5 million who voted early in 2010. The stalemate on military action in Syria remains as the G20 summit in Russia continues, but the UN has warned military strikes could escalate sectarian violence. Australia's third richest person, Crown Limited chairman James Packer, has separated from his wife Erica Baxter after six years of marriage. A full wrap at 10:36pm.

On the 8th of December 1941,

with WWII raging in Europe

Japan seized the opportunity

to launch a brutal campaign
to expand its empire

and expel the white colonials
from Asia.

The Japanese despised
the Anglo-Saxon powers

that had occupied most of Asia.

The propaganda at the time is all
about ridding Asia of the white man.

They bombed the American
naval base at Pearl Harbour,

landed infantry in British Malaya

and blasted the British fortress
of Singapore.

The thought in everybody's mind was
that Singapore was the place to be

where you could be safe.

Ha. How wrong we were.

In just 55 days,
the Japanese Imperial Army

pushed the British Empire forces
nearly 1,000 kilometres southward,

down the Malay Peninsula.

They killed or captured
over 20,000 Empire troops

and were poised to launch a siege

on the supposedly impregnable
British fortress of Singapore.

After all these years,
in which colonial subjects

had genuinely grown up to believe
that the Empire was invincible,

suddenly they see the empire
and its troops

collapsing like a house of cards.

The Japanese invasion ignited
smouldering ethnic tensions

among the local Chinese, Malay
and Indian communities.

The coming of the Japanese presented

a very good opportunity for them
to get independence.

The fall of Singapore
was the beginning of the end

of colonialism in South East Asia,

and the tipping point
that shattered

Australia's reliance
on the British Empire,

forcing it to face the reality
of becoming an Asian nation.

Australia realised
that it was part of Asia

and was dragged screaming
and kicking to the Asian table.

(JAZZY MUSIC)

For nearly 150 years, Singapore,

on the southern tip
of the Malay peninsula,

was the jewel in the crown
of Britain's East Asian colonies.

In early 1942, with the Japanese
on their doorstep,

the colonial population
on the besieged island

appeared to be in denial.

The ballroom at Raffles Hotel
was shrouded in black curtains,

but the orchestra still played
from eight till midnight.

Of course, there were people who
seemed to ignore what was going on.

There were parties in the Raffles
Hotel and places like that,

among the colonial elite.

But I think it was...
they were just fooling themselves

by their own propaganda

of Singapore being
an impregnable fortress.

throughout the British Empire

of putting on a dinner jacket

before you go out
to face a mob

of screaming natives
who shot you to pieces

with their pangas or assegais
or whatever it may be.

This is how the British maintained

the illusion of Empire
for all those years.

They did start building
air raid shelters,

but really, the whole attitude
in Singapore at the time

was that Singapore was impenetrable,

they had big guns, facing out to sea
and a fine aerodrome.

And they didn't think
for one moment

that the Japanese
would have the temerity to attack.

Having driven the Empire forces

General Tomuyuki Yamashita,

the Commander of the Japanese
Imperial Army,

was massing his troops in Johore,

just across the causeway linking
the mainland to Singapore Island.

The Battle of Singapore has started. Lieutenant General Arthur Percival,

the Commander
of the British Empire forces,

was confident
his defences would hold,

but needed to secure the island.

("HIGHLAND LADDIE")

On the 31st of January,

after the last empire troops
had crossed causeway,

he ordered it to be blown up.

We were stationed
just over the causeway,

about 200 yards down the road,

and we watched them piping across,
the last of the Argylls,

then the blowing up of the causeway.

It was just like
as if you'd burst a balloon.

And we said to them...

After it died down
we said to the officers,

"Look at the bloody little hole.
That's not much good."

He says "Oh, that's only temporary
because we'll be advancing."

Just across the causeway
stood the Sultan of Johore's palace.

The Sultan, now siding
with the Japanese,

allowed General Yamashita
to set up his headquarters there.

From the top
of its five storey tower,

Yamashita could clearly see
the displacement of Empire troops

on the north of the island.

The General was quite safe.

Constrained by colonial decorum,
the British had promised the Sultan

his palace would not be shelled
in the battle.

We reckoned that we saw Yamashita

up in the tower
at the Sultan's palace.

We saw binoculars
at a certain angle,

and we said "They're spying on us."

And I said "Oh well,
we can fix that.

"We can blow that down
with one six gun salvo."

And the officer said
"You're not allowed to do that".

I said "What do you mean,
we're not allowed..."

He said "You're not allowed
to upset the Sultan of Johore.

"The British said, he might
get upset after the war."

Now trapped on the island,
Percival pinned his hopes

on 18,000 British reinforcements
on their way to Singapore.

But as the Malayan campaign
had rapidly turned into a rout,

British Prime Minister,
Winston Churchill,

began to view Singapore
as a lost cause

and threatened
to turn the ships around

and start evacuating the island.

Obviously the decision depends

on how long
the defence of Singapore Island

can be maintained.

If it is only for a few weeks,
it is certainly not worth losing

all our reinforcements and aircraft.

Australian Prime Minister,
John Curtin,

saw Singapore as Australia's
front line and weighed in.

After all the assurances
we have been given,

the evacuation of Singapore
would be regarded,

here and elsewhere,

as an inexcusable betrayal.

Curtin's pressure worked.

Churchill gave up all ideas
of abandoning Singapore

and the 18,000 British reinforcements
proceeded to the island.

We rushed pell-mell into Singapore.

right up close to the vessel
on the quay side,

and we were just told to jump to it,

chuck our stuff on board

and as soon as we were in,
off we went.

For his part, Curtin
feared Japanese invasion so much

that he rushed nearly 2,000,
mostly untrained,

Australian reinforcements
to Singapore.

The new arrivals joined the loose mix
of British, Malay,

Eurasian, Indian
and other Australian troops

who had survived the rigors
of the Malayan campaign,

and were now licking their wounds
and regrouping.

(ALL SCREAM)

In desperation, the British issued
arms to local Chinese civilians,

creating a new unit called Dalforce,

that would fight
alongside the Empire soldiers.

It was an unprecedented move

that reversed a century
of colonial superiority.

Atten-tion! Britain's position in Malaya

rested more than anything else
on British prestige,

and if British authorities admitted
to the Chinese civilian leaders

that they needed help,

that would raise troubling questions
about British prestige

and the British ability
to protect Singapore.

Only the threat of defeat
by the Japanese

really dispelled
that kind of reluctance.

The Chinese in Singapore had a
longstanding hatred of the Japanese,

stretching back to Japan's
brutal invasion of China,

and the men of Dalforce
were prepared to die fighting them.

There would be Chinese Nationalists,
Communists,

and of course
there would be mixed motives.

There was some local Chinese
who had affinities with this place,

those who had been born here.

Some had been here
for centuries, perhaps.

But I would say the majority of them
counted China as their homeland,

and China was of course
engaged in this...

life and death struggle
with Japanese forces,

since 1937.

Percival's ragtag multinational army

amounted to 85,000 troops.

It comprised a core of experienced
but weary soldiers

who'd retreated
from the fighting in Malaya,

supported by untrained
or unmotivated new recruits.

There were those soldiers,
left over from fighting.

They were the remnants
with reinforcements.

Some who couldn't even
put a bullet in a rifle.

Honest to goodness, that was right.

Although outnumbered,
with just 36,000 troops,

Yamashita's men were all
battle-hardened and single-minded.

In early February, Yamashita began
his assault on Singapore's defences.

(BLASTS)

He launched a devastating
artillery bombardment,

and relentless air attacks.

My father decided that we should
sleep in the air-raid shelter

because the bombing and the shelling
was getting really bad.

Bombs were bursting overhead
and all that,

he said we should go to the
air-raid shelter under the house,

and that's where we stayed.

We had to stay
under the billiard table

because there was nowhere else
to go.

And then these tremendous
explosions,

the building seemed to shake.

And amah got a mattress,
put it on top of me,

and then she lay on top of that
to protect me with her body.

And I shouted out

"Goodbye Mummy,
I'll see you in heaven."

But luckily, it must have been
a very near miss.

Next morning I went up to my room
and that's what I discovered.

This shrapnel,
right in the middle of my pillow

where my head would have been.

So I had a lucky escape.

(SIREN)

With the Japanese launching two
and often three air raids a day,

nearly one thousand civilians
were killed

during January
and early February of 1942.

I saw people dying on the road,
people injured,

and buildings on fire and crumbling.

The bombing was shattering
the longheld faith

in British Empire
among the locals.

At 8 am that morning, I went
to school to sit my final exam

and the paper
was history

about the British Empire.

So I thought of the irony.

We have the bombs falling and we're
talking about the British Empire.

The modern Japanese Air Force
had all but destroyed

the Commonwealth's
mainly obsolete fighter planes,

and the skies now belonged
to the Japanese.

Percival concentrated
on Singapore's land defences.

The British pride and joy were
Singapore's fifteen inch naval guns.

But they were pointing the wrong way.

In a growing list
of defensive errors,

British planners assumed
any attack on the island

would come from the sea to the south.

The British made many assumptions
about the Japanese

that weren't true.

They assumedthe Japanese
couldn't fight,

they assumed their equipment
was rubbish,

they assumed they'd come from the
sea and attack Singapore directly.

So the British really lost out
because they made assumptions,

both racial and technological
and tactical and strategic,

and almost every single one of those
assumptions proved to be false.

Percival managed to hurriedly
swing some of the guns around,

to fire on the Japanese
massing at Johore.

But they had the wrong ammunition.

It was designed to fire at ships,

and inflicted little damage
on the troops.

Guessing Yamashita would attack
to the east of the causeway,

Percival moved 12,000
British and Indian troops

towards Serangoon to face them.

When we got to Serangoon,

somebody had strung some wire up,

but very little else.

Percival hadn't built
any beach defences,

thinking it would be bad
for the locals' morale

to see the British even contemplating
a Japanese landing on the island.

There were a few wild pigs
running about,

which made you
a bit nervous at night.

And so we strung empty tin cans
on the barbed wire you know,

to make more noise.

In case Yamashita
had a different plan,

Percival asked the Commander
of the Australian forces,

Major General Gordon Bennett,

to send 6,000 of his troops
to the other side of the island.

The Australians were to defend

a 20-kilometre-wide stretch
of mangrove swamps

to the west of the causeway.

Two thousand of Bennett's men
were the untrained new recruits.

Defending this expanse of coastline
would be a near impossible task.

It was hopeless.

We had about, oh, crikey,
a mile of coastline

that we were supposed to look after.

It had nothing. No barbed wire,
no slit trenches, no nothing,

and it was just an open invitation
for the Japanese

to come and take the island.

The normally abrasive Bennett
could have objected

to the Australians'
vulnerable position,

but by now the relationship
between the two generals was strained

and Bennett remained silent.

The one thousand Chinese volunteers
of Dalforce

joined the Australians
on the beach head.

They'd completed their training
just three days earlier.

Their baptism of fire would be
fighting alongside Australians

in an exposed position

against the crack troops
of the Japanese Imperial Army.

From his vantage point
on the mainland,

General Yamashita had a clear view
of the Empire force's positions.

The master strategist readied his
troops to land on Singapore Island.

He chose the sparsely defended
Australian and Dalforce position,

where the Straits were
at their narrowest.

Two Australians swam out
into the Straits there between it,

and came back with the information

that Japanese were preparing boats
in that area.

And the British
went and said

"No, no, they're going to land up
at the other end.

"They've got lots of traffic running
up and down there."

There was a lot of traffic
heading towards the north east,

but it was part
of General Yamashita's plan

to fool Percival into believing

he would attack the large
British force positioned there.

On the 7th of February, Yamashita
sent troops on a diversionary attack

to fire across the water
at the main British position

to further convince Percival
he was going to land there.

Indian soldiers fought alongside
the Japanese in this attack.

These were men who'd deserted
the British Empire forces in Malaya

to form a new unit,
the Indian National Army.

Some of them did it
because their mates were doing it.

Some because they were furious
with the Brits,

who they thought had let them down.

Some of them did it because
they were diehard anti-Imperialists

who wanted to drive the British
out of India ASAP

by whatever means available.

Their Commander
was the anti-British Nationalist

Captain Mohan Singh.

In this action, Indian soldiers,
for the first time in the campaign,

fired on their former
colonial masters.

(RAPID FIRE)

(Groans)

(UNEASY MUSIC)

The next night,
13,000 Japanese soldiers

embarked on the six-minute crossing
of the Straits of Johore.

With Percival still convinced the
attack would come on the north east,

the Japanese quietly headed towards
the Australian and Dalforce troops

spread thinly along the west coast.

(BATTLE CRY)

They landed right where the British
didn't think they were going to land

opposite the Australians.

The Australians had little chance

of stopping the huge numbers
of Japanese pouring in.

The Dalforce soldiers fought bravely,

but some were armed
with only machetes or shotguns.

Most would die here on the beaches.

Frankly, they were absolutely
no match whatsoever

for the combat-hardened
Japanese infantry that came at them,

and come at them they did.

The Japanese brushed them aside.

These were brave men
who were going up

against some of the toughest
combat infantrymen in the world,

deserve our respect, but they were
nothing more than a speed bump.

Outnumbered two to one,
the pressure became far too much.

The Japanese broke through, gaining
a foothold on Singapore Island,

forcing the Australians
into a hasty retreat.

Morale and discipline
had gone to pieces

among the freshly arrived troops,

and many deserted under fire.

I think we have to be
quite honest here

and confront the shortcomings of
Australians in battle at this time.

We have to be very sympathetic
to them.

They're young men new to war,

fighting the Japanese Imperial Guard
at night in a swamp,

but many decide they don't want
to be there and become stragglers.

So there's a lot of men
leaving the frontline,

making their way back, sometimes
for good reasons, sometimes not,

and it weakens
the Australian defence.

The so-called impregnable fortress
had been breached.

In just over a day,
the Commonwealth forces

had lost control of the causeway,

and the entire western side
of the island.

On the 9th of February,

General Yamashita felt confident
enough to cross onto the island,

setting up his headquarters in time

to see the first prisoners
taken in the siege.

Sir.

The next day, a cable
from Prime Minister Churchill

revealed the cold-hearted
self-interest of British colonialism.

"There must, at this stage,
be no thought

"of saving the troops
or sparing the population.

"The battle must be fought
to the bitter end, at all costs.

"The honour of the British Empire
and the British Army is at stake."

The survival
of the civilian population,

the native population,
the troops in Singapore

were secondary really

to the point of honour
at stake here,

which was the preservation
of the British citadel in Asia.

And its loss would gravely damage
British respect,

British sense of honour
in the world.

Churchill was quite prepared
to sacrifice some million people

on the island of Singapore

to Japanese artillery
and Japanese invasion.

He did explicitly say
"fight to the last man",

meaning the last civilian
as well as the last soldier.

Percival left more than half his army
sitting idle on the north-east coast

while the Australian and Dalforce
troops took the brunt of the attack.

After three full days, he finally
realised he'd been tricked,

and ordered them across the island
to support the retreating Australians

who were now being driven back
towards Singapore town.

The Australians were coming back
through the jungle.

It was throwing down with rain,
and I'm standing under a palm tree

with a gas cape,
one of the waterproof capes on me.

And the Australians were saying,
"You know, get out.

"You want to get out, because
the Japs are right behind us."

In the finish, we found out
we were in the front line.

(RAPID GUNFIRE)

At Bukit Timah, the bruised
and battered British Empire Army,

plagued by desertions
and riven with discontent,

made a determined stand.

As the battle wore on into the night,

the fanaticism
of the Japanese soldiers

shocked the Empire troops.

It was a pretty fearsome thing

to see a load
of charging Japs

screaming and yelling

and wielding swords.

It's an appalling sight.

In the end, the Empire forces
at Bukit Timah

had to yield
to the fanatical Japanese soldier.

It finally dawned on them
that they were fighting an enemy

who was at least their equal.

We were told "They can't see, they
can't fight,

"they're all paddy wallopers"
we called them.

The biggest surprise of our life
I think when it...

and then especially
when we were immediately told

we've got to withdraw.

By the 14th of February the Japanese
were overlooking the city.

One million people were trapped
within a radius of five kilometres.

Singapore's very fabric
was being torn apart.

I would not have wanted to be
in Singapore town.

That must have been the worst place
on earth to be at that time.

The Japanese were terror-bombing
and bombarding the town,

to try and provoke mass civilian
panic and buckle the defences.

They were bombing from the air
and shelling with heavy artillery,

and all indiscriminately.

SHEILA: It was horrifying to think
there were so many bits and pieces,

there were still people dying.

Some of them were already dead.

There were a lot
of broken limbs about.

It was the smell of blood,
I think, and smoke

that really got to me.

And I just couldn't believe
that all this could happen.

With their world crumbling
around them,

the British were desperate to escape.

As women and children
were crowding onto the ships,

there were accusations
that Australian soldiers

were trying
to force their way on board.

The British said
the Australians were deserters.

That I will confirm.

I will confirm that,
in as much as some of us Marines,

we were put in charge of the
security of Singapore Harbour.

And I know that there was

getting aboard some of the liners

that were taking civilian evacuees
away.

I think most of the things
that were said

about misbehaviour and failures
by Australian troops were true,

but it ill became the British
to make them

for there was not evidence
the British were doing any better.

Nobody wanted to do this.
Nobody wanted to fight.

They were deeply imbued
with the European ethic:

"well we've given it a go,
we've got rotten generals,

"nobody seems to know
what they're doing,

"the Japanese are bloody good.

"Stuff this for a row of soldiers.
We'll chuck it in."

The evacuation of Singapore
revealed damning evidence

of the British view
of their Asian subjects.

In addition to the soldiers
who deserted,

10,000 women and children
were evacuated,

7,000 of them were white.

The Europeans are declaring,
if you like,

By the 14th of February,
the Japanese had captured

most of the Empire force's
ammunition and fuel,

and had control
of Singapore's main water supplies.

That night, the Japanese entered
the outskirts of the city.

Hand to hand street fighting in
the midst of the civilian population

became a terrifying possibility.

General Percival cabled High Command,
seeking permission to surrender.

Churchill realised the time
for public bravado was over,

and the next morning
cabled Percival,

permitting him to be
the sole judge of the moment.

On Sunday the 15th of February, 1942,

more than 100 years after the British
had raised their flag over Singapore,

Percival surrendered unconditionally.

Incredible.

We couldn't understand why or how
or anything else.

It was just impossible
to comprehend.

The surrender was terrible.

To think that here was...

the great British Empire,

and they had surrendered
to these so and sos.

I was damn near broken-hearted.

TOM: We couldn't believe it.

When the surrender came, we just
put a shell up each end of the gun,

blew it to pieces.

We thought the British
would fight to the end,

and still protect this country,
but we were disappointed.

That really gave us
a very poor opinion of the British.

(ALL SHOUT)

BANZAI!

In Japan, the victory was seen
as the first step

in banishing the colonial powers
from the region

and confirming Japan
as the rightful steward of Asia.

It's impossible to overrate
the shock

that the fall of Singapore
inflected on the British people.

They'd been told it was a fortress.

There was this great British Army
there,

up against a load of pathetic
little Japanese midgets,

it was to be defended
to the last man.

This was going to be
a heroic Imperial saga.

But suddenly they see this huge
Imperial army

surrendering to these despised
Orientals, to the Japanese,

and they were stunned.

The news of the fall of Singapore
shocks the western world.

It's headline news, of course, in
Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

And it's headline news because it's
psychologically disturbing as well.

Because for 50 years,
Europeans had invested a huge amount

in building up this bastion
of European supremacy in Asia,

and in a stroke, it's gone.

A soldier came along and said
"It's all over.

"We've given up."

I wondered what was going
to happen to me.

I was only seventeen.

Would the Japanese take me away
from my -parents?

Would they... shoot me?

I was brought up in a convent
to love one another,

to live peacefully with each other,

and here we are,
fighting with each other,

and killing each other,
for what? Why?

What was wrong with the world?

While the Japanese secured the city,

Major General Gordon Bennett,

the Commanding Officer
of the Australian forces,

paid a few hundred pounds
to the skipper of a fishing boat

and escaped to Australia

to pass on his supposed
expert knowledge

of how to fight the Japanese.

Bennett's wilful abandonment
of his men,

while he himself escaped
to go back to Australia

is always going to be controversial
in Australian military history.

On the one hand, he ordered his unit
to stand fast and not move

and make no attempt to escape.

On the other hand,
he absconded himself.

You ask yourself
about the greater moral

and ethical responsibility
of a commander.

Is it not to stand with his men,
and to try to do whatever he could

to shield them from what was coming?

Bennett never commanded in battle
again.

For those who surrendered
in Singapore,

what lay ahead
was over three years in captivity.

30,000 British,
15,000 Australian and 40,000 Indian troops

joined the 20,000 POWs
already taken in Malaya.

Unlike Bennett,
General Percival stuck by his men,

and went with them
into the hell of the prison camps.

Even though he'd led his army
to a humiliating defeat,

Percival would retain
the respect of his men.

But among the local Singaporeans,

what little respect remained
for the Empire forces

would quickly be dispelled.

The Japanese marched the defeated
Commonwealth troops

through the centre of Singapore
towards Changi Prison.

It was to really impress
on the local population

"Don't mess with us.

"Look at your previous masters.

"They have been defeated by us

"and they are of no use at all.
They couldn't protect you.

The shock of the British defeat
in Singapore

quickly spread to Australia,
heightening fears of invasion

The fall of Singapore
was characterised by Curtin

as the beginning of the battle
for Australia.

The moment when we truly realised
the nation was in peril,

and that the Japanese
could well be invading the country.

Every human being in this country

is now, whether he or she likes it,

at the service of the government

to work in the defence of Australia.

Two days after the fall of Singapore,
Curtin telegrammed Churchill,

demanding 20,000 Australian troops
heading to Burma

be turned round and rushed back
to defend Australia.

During that brief period,
after the fall of Singapore,

the threat to Australia was real,

and I believe that Curtin
was absolutely right

to insist on the recall
of the Australian Divisions.

Churchill,
and American President Roosevelt,

didn't believe Australia
was threatened,

and wanted Curtin to allow the troops
to proceed to Burma.

Curtin stood firm.

Now in this, he's opposing
Roosevelt and Churchill.

He's against the two most powerful
figures in the western war effort,

so it's a very strong moment
of Australian nationalism,

but it sets Curtin against
the leaders of the western world

and Churchill, for one,
never forgave him.

Two days later,
Curtin was vindicated.

On the 19th of February, 1942,

Australia was attacked
for the first time,

killing over 250 people.

While Australia prepared
for invasion,

in Singapore, the Japanese portrayed
themselves as liberators.

But under the Japanese occupation,

the fate of the three main ethnic
groups in Singapore and Malaya

would be very different.

The Japanese knew the Indians
wanted the British out of India,

so on February the 17th,

they assembled 40,000 Indian soldiers
from the Empire forces

at Farrer Park Race Course
in Singapore.

Mohan Singh,
the Indian National Army leader,

set about persuading them
to join the Japanese

If they didn't like you, they just
lashed out with the butt of a rifle.

For the Malay community,
the Japanese occupation

brought hope of regaining control
of their land.

Under the British,
they'd been sidelined

by thousands of Chinese
and Indian workers

brought in to run the economy.

The ordinary Malays, some were
very happy when the Japanese came,

because the view among the Japanese
that Malays,

as the "ons of the soil"
they should be given preferences.

They were convinced
that the Japanese

would give them independence,

and that's why they collaborated
with the Japanese.

There was no preferential treatment
for the Chinese.

The Japanese held deep grievances
against them,

because of the war in China,

and three days after the surrender,

they rounded up any
they considered hostile.

In scenes recalling the brutality
of the invasion of China,

an estimated 50,000
Chinese Singaporeans

were executed by the Japanese.

There was a real massacre.

There was this infamous Sook Ching
purification, you know.

It meant really
kind of a purification campaign.

You think of the more recent
ethnic cleansing.

(GENTLE MUSIC) Grace Roberts lives 300 kilometres
from the nearest town.

She's never seen an ice-cream truck. ('GREENSLEEVES' PLAYS
ON ICE-CREAM TRUCK) But that's about to change.

('GREENSLEEVES' CONTINUES)

(GENTLE MUSIC INTENSIFIES) The new Sony 4K Ultra HD TV - like nothing you've ever experienced.

For three years after the fall of
Singapore, war raged in the Pacific.

At its peak in 1942,

the Japanese Empire extended
over fifty million square kilometres.

Its land conquests
were a third greater than Germany's.

In Malaya and Singapore,
the Japanese had a local population

of nearly five million
under their control.

But the occupation
was driving a wedge

between the local Chinese
and Malay communities.

The Second World War overlays

an existing tension
between Chinese and Malayans.

The war brings different things
to those two groups.

It brings immense suffering
to the Chinese,

And for the Malays,

although they do suffer
from the starvation and hardship

they manage to evade
many of the imposts of the Japanese.

So in a sense,
the war sharpens conflict

between those two
great ethnic groups.

The Japanese had promised the Malays
independence, but it never came.

Instead, they increasingly behaved
like a harsh new colonial power.

(Shouts)

Every time you saw
a Japanese soldier,

you have to bow down properly.

If not done properly,
you were beaten up.

Yaro.

The ill-treatment and brutality
extended

of prisoners of war

who by mid-1945
were languishing in the camps,

reduced to a pitiful state
by enforced labour.

(SHOUTING, UNEASY MUSIC)

Some POWs were taken to prison camps
in the south of Japan

to work in coalmines.

When we got to Japan, I was
the soup cook in the prison camp.

We were
in the kitchen.

We had to cook a meal for 400 men

and have it ready at 0830 hours.

Now Bert Kelly, a Welshman,
was the rice cook,

and all at once,
the most beautiful white light

seemed to come in like stage smoke,

float up Bert's body,
met at the top of his head

and formed into a silver halo.

And I thought "we're dead,

"'cos you don't get your halo
down here."

Then we looked up,
and just rising above the horizon

was this odd-shaped,
mushroom-shaped cloud.

Three days after the bombing
of Hiroshima,

a second atomic bomb
was dropped on Nagasaki.

The Japanese surrendered
unconditionally.

(JUBILANT MUSIC)

On the 12th of September,

the British returned to accept
the Japanese surrender in Singapore.

It was the Japanese turn
to be marched through the streets

in front of the locals.

As soon as the people
saw the Japanese,

went around the corner
of High Street towards city hall,

in one word, they shouted
"Bagaro! Bagaro!"

"Bagaro" means 'bloody fool'.

The Japanese used to call us bagaro
before beating us, you know.

There was a great crowd
from the Chinese community.

They wanted to get to them

We were allowed to dance and sing

and we went out in the street

when the Japanese were taken away,

and we let our hair down.

That was when I realised
that we were really free.

Well, that's what we thought,
anyway.

One by one, all the old
colonial powers

returned to reclaim their colonies:

the British to Singapore, Malaya
and Burma,

the French to Indochina,

the Dutch to Indonesia
and the Americans to the Philippines.

But for the people
of South East Asia,

things had changed.

Now this time,
the attitude towards the British

was not like before the war.

There were no more big masters.

We thought it was high time
that we ruled our own country.

So this spirit of independence
was in everyone's heart.

The British, too,
seemed to have had a change of heart.

With independence in the wind,

they were losing their appetite
for empire.

Thoughtful British people recognised

that certainly India was bound
to go, that it wasn't sustainable,

and probably that the Asian empire
had to go too.

A new generation of British people
were much more realistic.

They realised that the day
of empires was done.

Singapore and Malaya would take
separate paths to independence.

In Malaya, the British feared
that underlying ethnic tensions

between the Malay, Chinese
and Indian communities

could lead to violence,

and wanted unity
before they would let go.

The British were trying
to sell the idea

that to achieve independence,

the races have to,

by hook or by crook, work together.

A united party, made up of the three
main ethnic groups in Malaya,

started to take shape.

If you're thinking of an alternative
to violent revolution,

that was the best solution,

to have a party which was broadly
representative of the Malays,

and the Chinese, and the Indians.

(CROWD CHEERS)

The three ethnic groups
formed an alliance

under the leadership
of Tunku Abdul Rahman,

and demanded their freedom.

Britain finally
granted Malaya independence

on the 31st of August, 1957.

In Singapore, the Chinese
were well in the majority,

so here, ideology
was a bigger issue than race.

Communists and capitalists clashed.

Both wanted control
of the post-war government.

For us in Singapore,
it was the battle of the minds.

We wanted to form
a more equal society.

No one should be given
special rights

based on race, language
and religion.

No one is above
the other,

and we thought
it was good for Singapore.

(CROWD ROARS)

In 1959, Cambridge law graduate
and right wing political leader,

Lee Kuan Yew,
won the ideological battle

and became Singapore's first
native-born Prime Minister.

Seeking security for his tiny nation,

Lee Kuan Yew held a vision
to unite with Malaya.

Stability, security,
economic development.

In 1963,
he persuaded Tunku Abdul Rahman

to form a new composite state,
Malaysia.

But the merger
of the two nations meant

that the Chinese were now
the biggest ethnic group.

Malays felt threatened,
and in 1964,

Singapore saw the worst race riots
in its history.

The atmosphere was charged,
very tense.

The crowd shouted "Kill Lee
Kuan Yew! Kill Lee Kuan Yew!"

Then I saw suddenly Malay youth
coming in, beating the Chinese.

Eventually, the political tensions
and ethnic violence became too much,

and in August 1965, both leaders
decided to call it quits.

The two nations
split once and for all.

By now, all the old South East Asian
colonies had been set free.

The Philippines, India, Burma,

Indonesia and Indochina

had all gained independence since
the Japanese lit the fuse in 1942.

Some Japanese claimed that this was
the intention from the very start,

that Japan would be the...

that Japan was the light of Asia,
would be the liberator of Asia.

With all the European powers
to the north gone,

Australia, left to its own devices,

had to rethink its relationship
with its new neighbours.

we had to find a new relationship
with the region.

We couldn't rely on Britain,

certainly not militarily,
and perhaps not economically,

which led to subsequent
post-war leaders

turning to America
as our security blanket.

This was, to a certain extent, we
were mythologising and romanticising

our relationship with America,
as we had done with Britain.

And it took a long time
before Australia realised

it was part of Asia

and was dragged screaming
and kicking to the Asian table.

We're no longer an island
on our own, as Australians.

We've assimilated with a lot
of the other cultures.

I wouldn't be surprised at all

that eventually, Australia will be

more Asian than Australian.

The fall of Singapore
has become a shorthand symbol

for a huge swathe of history.

In the battle for Singapore
and Malaya,

15,000 soldiers and 60,000 civilians

from more than 10 nationalities
gave their lives.

It was not only Britain's
most humiliating defeat,

it was the tipping point
that changed South East Asia forever,

and led to the end of colonialism
throughout the world.

The withdrawal of Britain
from Singapore,

the withdrawal of France
from Indochina,

the withdrawal of the European
powers throughout Asia

led to a void that would be filled
with something better,

with something that would be
their own.

And so Singapore
then became a symbol

for a new kind of Asia.

If the age of European imperialism
began

with Columbus's voyage
in 1492 to America,

then it ended in 1942
with the fall of Singapore.

Captions (c) SBS Australia 2012

Tonight - landslide likely, but Tony Abbott still predicts a close battle. G20 leaders split in St Petersburg - Russia and the US still divided over a Syrian missile strike. And Rebel round-up - thousands of bikies hit the road for Perth.

Good evening, I'm Ricardo Goncalves. By this time tomorrow night, we're likely to know who will be Prime Minister. Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are still saying it's anyone's to win. Kathy Novak has the final campaign wrap. Kathy, is it really anyone's game? Not if you believe the polls, Ricardo. The latest ones are still all pointing to a Coalition victory. But of course it's up to the voters to decide as they head to the polls tomorrow. The last day of a long campaign. The leaders long campaign. The leaders are doing all they can to get every last vote. Kevin Rudd insists he is not giving up.If I am guilty of the audacity of Hope, I am guilty as charged.The frantic final day, a radio station problem together without warning. That afternoon, you rning. That afternoon, you doing well?Kevin, I am fine, I have to say good luck. Maybe best man win.Absolutely, it is a democracy. The people get to decide. You are ahead the moment, my job is to narrow your lead. Tony Abbott says he is not getting ahead of himself. tting ahead of himself.A lot can go wrong.It is like being in a grand final, with five and is to go, only one goal in it. He knows it is within his grasp.They appreciate you having me on your program, look forward to coming in again in another capacity.We will see what the straight We will see what the straight on people have to say. The opposition is turning on the minor parties, urging people not to support them.They might be fun, they might be different, but they will damage ent, but they will damage our country and damage our government. y and damage our government.It is a democracy, people can vote for what they want. I am pretty relaxed about whether democracy deals the cards out on that one.We're up against labour and Liberal working together to try and turn Parliament back into a? Party closed shop. The PM is attacking the Coalition's last minute policies.In other policy has popped into existence. A late