Backed by communist power Soviet Union and China, North Vietnam emerged victorious as troops invaded South Vietnam and captured Saigon in 1975. The end of Vietnam War also saw the country unify under communist rule.
For fear of persecution, it was estimated that 800,000 South Vietnamese fled the country, becoming refugees or "boat people".
It was said that Singapore was the first country in the region that deterred Vietnamese boat people from coming onshore.
Under Operation Thunderstorm, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) were responsible for providing Vietnamese refugees with food, water and fuel, before sending them away from Singapore shores.
Eventually, Singapore opened its doors as a transit country for Vietnamese refugees, with the guarantee that they would be resettled in a third country within 90 days, or 3 months.
From 1978 to 1996,
32,457* Vietnamese refugees were provided temporary safe haven in Singapore, at 25 Hawkins Road, a former British army barrack.
Photograph from Meredith J. Kennedy,
Facebook Group: Vietnamese Boat People Refugee Camp
Spokesperson from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore
JASMINE OSADA (2015) "Singapore can't accept refugees: MHA", Straits Times, 19 May.Available here: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-cant-accept-refugees-mha
After the Vietnam War saw the reunification of the country under communist rule. Yen, then barely four years old, took to the seas with her family in the 1980s, becoming refugees. After spending 5 days adrift at sea, they were rescued and brought to Singapore, where the family were hosted at Hawkins Road Refugee Camp for 5 months, before being resettled to Australia. Hear what Ms Yen Siow has to say about her experience and what RAW means to her.