Singapore in Malaysia

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Negeri Singapura
State of Malaysia

Flag Coat of arms
Flag Coat of arms
Location of State of Singapore
Singapore in its location relative to Peninsular Malaysia
Capital Singapore
 -  Singapore joins the Federation 16 September 1963
 -  Singapore declares independence 9 August 1965
Today part of  Singapore
Part of a series on the
History of Singapore
Flag of Singapore.svg Flag of Singapore (1946-1959).svg

Early history of Singapore (pre-1819)

Founding of modern Singapore (1819–26)
Straits Settlements (1826–67)
Crown colony (1867–1942)
Battle of Singapore (1942)
Japanese Occupation (1942–45)
Post-war period (1945–55)
Internal self-government (1955–62)
Merger with Malaysia (1962–65)
Republic of Singapore (1965–present)
Portal icon Singapore portal
Part of a series on the
History of Malaysia
History of Malaysia
Prehistoric Malaysia
Early kingdoms
Langkasuka 2nd–14th century
Srivijaya 650–1377
Majapahit 1293–1500
Rise of Muslim states
Kedah Sultanate 1136–present
Brunei Sultanate 15th century–present
Malacca Sultanate 1402–1511
Sulu Sultanate 1450–1899
Pattani Sultanate 1516–1902
Johor Sultanate 1528–present
Colonial era
Portuguese Malacca 1511–1641
Dutch Malacca 1641–1824
Straits Settlements 1826–1946
Kingdom of Sarawak 1841–1946
Crown Colony of Labuan 1848–1946
British Malaya / Borneo 1874–1946
North Borneo 1882–1946
Federated Malay States 1895–1946
Unfederated Malay States 1909–1946
War and emergency
Japanese occupation of 1941–1945
Crown Colony of Sarawak 1946–1963
Crown Colony of N. Borneo 1946–1963
Malayan Union 1946–1948
Federation of Malaya 1948–1963
Malayan Emergency 1948–1960
Independence of Malaya 1957
Brunei Revolt 1962
Sarawak Communist Insurgency 1962–1990
Independence of Sarawak 1963
Self-government of North Borneo 1963
Formation of Malaysia 1963
Singapore in Malaysia 1963–1965
Communist Insurgency War 1968–1989
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation 1963–1966
13 May Incident 1969
By topic
Portal icon Malaysia portal

On 16 September 1963, Singapore merged with the Federation of Malaya alongside North Borneo and Sarawak to form Malaysia. This marked the end of a 144-year period of British rule in Singapore, beginning with the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819.

The union, however, was unstable due to distrust and ideological differences between leaders of the State of Singapore and the federal government of Malaysia. Such issues resulted in frequent disagreement within politics, economic, financial, social policies and socioeconomic system that was Communism [1] with majority were Singaporean Chinese. The conflict spread to the populace, resulting in major racial riots in 1964 in Singapore. In 1965, Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman decided upon the expulsion of Singapore from the Federation, leading to the Independence of Singapore on 9 August 1965.


The People's Action Party (PAP) won the first election in Singapore after the merger.[2]

Racial tension[edit]

Racial tensions increased dramatically within a year and were fuelled by Barisan Sosialis's tactics of stirring up communal sentiment as the pro-communist party sought to use means to survive against the crackdown by both the government of Singapore and the Federal Government. In particular, the Chinese in Singapore disdained being discriminated against by Federal policies of affirmative action, which granted special privileges to the Malays guaranteed under Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia. There were also other financial and economic benefits that were preferentially given to Malays. Islam was the sole official religion, although non-Muslims maintained the freedom of worship.

The Malays and Muslims in Singapore were being increasingly incited by the federal government's accusations that the PAP was mistreating the Malays. Numerous racial riots resulted, and curfews were frequently imposed to restore order. The external political situation was also tense at the time, with Indonesia actively against the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia. President Sukarno of Indonesia declared a state of Konfrontasi (Confrontation) against Malaysia and initiated military and other actions against the new nation, including the bombing of MacDonald House in March 1965 by Indonesian commandos which killed three people.[3] Indonesia also conducted sedition activities to provoke the Malays against the Chinese.[4]

One of the more notorious riots was the 1964 Race Riots that took place on Prophet Muhammad's birthday on 21 July, near Kallang Gasworks with twenty-three killed and hundreds injured. Additional riots broke out in September 1964. The price of food heavily skyrocketed when the transport system was disrupted during this period of unrest, causing further hardship. The Government later introduced the Racial Harmony Day, which falls on the same date as the riots.


Main article: PAP-UMNO relations

The federal government of Malaysia, dominated by the United Malays National Organization, feared that as long as Singapore remained in the Federation, the bumiputra policy of positive racial discrimination to the Malays would be undermined and therefore not in the interest of their pro-Malay agenda. One of the major causes of this fear was the fact that the PAP continued to repeatedly cry for a "Malaysian Malaysia!" – the fair and equal treatment of all races in Malaysia, by serving Malaysian citizens, rather than the Malay race. Another contributor was the fear that the economic dominance of Singapore's port would inevitably shift political power away from Kuala Lumpur in time, should Singapore remain in the federation.

The state and federal governments also had disagreement on the economic front. Despite earlier agreement to establish a common market, Singapore continued to face restrictions when trading with the rest of Malaysia. In retaliation, Singapore did not extend to Sabah and Sarawak the full extent of the loans agreed to for economic development of the two eastern states. The situation escalated to such intensity that talks soon broke down and abusive speeches and writings became rife on both sides. UMNO extremists called for the arrest of Lee Kuan Yew.


On 7 August 1965, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, seeing no alternative to avoid further bloodshed, advised the Parliament of Malaysia that it should vote to expel Singapore from Malaysia. Despite last-ditch attempts by PAP leaders, including Lee Kuan Yew, to keep Singapore as a state in the union, the Parliament on 9 August 1965 voted 126–0 in favour of the expulsion of Singapore, with members of Parliament from Singapore not present. On that day, a tearful Lee Kuan Yew announced that Singapore was a sovereign, independent nation and assumed the role of Prime Minister of the new nation. His speech included this quote: "For me, it is a moment of anguish. All my life, my whole adult life, I have believed in merger and unity of the two territories."[5] Hence, Singapore became the only country in the history of the modern world to gain independence against its own will.[6]

Under constitutional amendments passed in December of that year, the new state became the Republic of Singapore, with the Yang di-Pertuan Negara becoming President, and the Legislative Assembly becoming the Parliament of Singapore. These changes were made retroactive to the date of Singapore's separation from Malaysia. The Malaya and British Borneo Dollar remained legal tender until the introduction of the Singapore dollar in 1967. Before the currency split, there was discussions about a common currency between the Malaysian and Singaporean Governments.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Lau, Albert (1998). A Moment of Anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the Politics of Disengagement. Singapore: Times Academic Press. ISBN 981-210-1349. 
  3. ^ "Terror Bomb Kills 2 Girls at Bank". The Straits Times. 11 March 1965. 
  4. ^ "Singapore – Road to Independence". U.S. Library of Congress. Retrieved 27 June 2006. 
  5. ^ Transcript, Press Conference Given By Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, 9 August 1965, 21–22.
  6. ^ "Road to Independence". AsiaOne. Retrieved 28 June 2006. 
  7. ^ Sheng-Yi, Lee (1990). The Monetary and Banking Development of Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore: NUS Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-9971-69-146-2. 

External links[edit]

  • [1] – 1961 transcript of an interview with the Prime Minister of Singapore regarding merger negotiations