Chestnut Drive Secondary School was opened in 1969 but its opening was delayed several times because in 1967 the brand new school was temporarily converted into a courthouse to try detained supporters of the then largest opposition party, the Barisan Socialists, a split-away faction of the PAP. Some 200 Barisan supporters were handcuffed and tried at one go. My house was 150 meters from the school and every day walking to the bus-stop on main Upper Bukit Timah Road, I saw riot squad police, lawyers and flag-waving Barisan female supporters.
Behind the high fence was the school hall cum canteen viewed from Chestnut Drive.
The old school hall cum canteen became the court house. The bearded Mr. TT Rajah, an ex-PAP member himself defended the Barisan. Mr. TT Rajah if I am not mistaken is the father of Justice VK Rajah and the founder of the legal firm Rajah & Tann. We could hear the on-goings because the Public Address system was used during the court proceedings. I think Mr. Donald Yeo was the magistrate. Several times the judge shouted through the microphone to bring order to the courthouse because the Barisan supporters were jeering every time the prosecutor spoke.
Barisan detainees being led away to a waiting Black Maria van. In the background was the old school hall.
Chestnut Drive Secondary School still stands but an open field replaced the school-hall.