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SINGAPORE - HISTORY
History[edit | edit source]
Singapore was caught in the struggles between Siam, now Thailand, and the Java-based Majapahit Empire for control over the Malay Peninsula. According to the Malay Annals, Singapore was defeated in one Majapahit attack, but Iskandar Shah, or Parameswara, a prince of Palembang, later killed the local chieftain and installed himself as the island's new ruler. Shortly after, he was driven out, either by the Siamese or by the Javanese forces of the Majapahit Empire. He fled north to Muar in the Malay Peninsula, where he founded the Malacca Sultanate. Singapore remained an important part of the Malacca Sultanate; it was the fief of the admirals, including the famous Hang Tuah.
Malay Peninsula. On 29 January 1819, Raffles landed on the island of Singapore after having surveyed other nearby islands. The next day, he concluded a preliminary treaty with Temenggong Abdu'r Rahman to set up a trading post here. On 6 February 1819, a formal treaty was concluded with Sultan Hussein of Johor and the Temenggong, the de jure and defacto rulers of Singapore respectively.
Singapore proved to be a prized settlement. By 1820, it was earning revenue, and three years later, its trade surpassed that of Penang. In 1824, Singapore's status as a British possession was formalised by two new treaties. The first was the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of March 1824, by which the Dutch withdrew all objections to the British occupation of Singapore. The second treaty was made with Sultan Hussein and Temenggong Abdu'r Rahman in August, by which the two owners ceded the island out right to the British in return for increased cash payments and pensions.
Singapore, together with Malacca and Penang, the two British settlements in the Malay Peninsula, became the Straits Settlements in 1826, under the control of British India. By 1832, Singapore had become the centre of government for the three areas. On 1 April 1867, the Straits Settlements became a Crown Colony under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Office in London.
With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Singapore became a major port of call for ships plying between Europe and East Asia. And with the development of rubber planting, especially after the 1870's, it also became the main sorting and export center in the world for rubber. Before the close of the 19th century, Singapore was experiencing unprecedented prosperity and trade expanded eight-fold between 1873 and 1913. The prosperity attracted immigrants from areas around the region. By 1860, the population had grown to 80,792. The Chinese accounted for 61.9 per cent of the number; the Malays and Indians 13.5 and 16.05 per cent respectively; and others, including the Europeans, 8.5 per cent.
The peace and prosperity ended when Japanese aircraft bombed the sleeping city in the early hours of 8 December 1941. Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942, and was renamed Syonan. It remained under Japanese occupation for three and a half years.
The British forces returned in September 1945 and Singapore came under the British Military Administration. When the period of military administration ended in March 1946, the Straits Settlements was dissolved. On 1 April 1946, Singapore became a Crown Colony. Penang and Malacca became part of the Malayan Union in 1946, and later the Federation of Malaya in 1948.
When the Communist Party of Malaya tried to take over Malaya and Singapore by force, a state of emergency was declared in June 1948. The emergency lasted for 12 years. Towards the end of 1953, the British government appointed a commission to review Singapore's constitutional position and make recommendations for change. The proposals were accepted by the government and served as the basis of a new constitution that gave Singapore a greater measure of self-government.
The 1955 election was the first lively political contest in Singapore's history. Automatic registration expanded the register of voters from 75,000 to over 300,000, and for the first time, it included large numbers of Chinese, who had manifested political apathy in previous elections. The Labor Front won 10 seats. The Peoples Action Party made up of Labor Front, the United Malays National Organization and the Malayan Chinese Association .
Self-government was attained in 1959. In May that year Singapore's first general election was held to choose 51 representatives to the first fully elected Legislative Assembly. The Peoples Action Party won 43 seats, gleaning 53.4 percent of the total votes. On June 3, the new Constitution confirming Singapore as a self-governing state was brought into force by the proclamation of the Governor. The first Government of the State of Singapore was sworn in on June 5, with Lee Kuan Yew as Singapore's first Prime Minister.
The Peoples Action Party had come to power in a united front with the communists to fight British colonialism. The communists controlled many mass organizations, especially of workers and students. It was an uneasy alliance between the Peoples Action Party moderates and the pro communists, with each side trying to use the other for its own ultimate objective--in the case of the moderates, to obtain full independence for Singapore as part of a non-communist Malaya; in the case of the communists, to work towards a communist take-over.
The tension between the two factions worsened from 1960 and led to an open split in l961, with the pro-communists subsequently forming a new political party, the Barisan Sosialist. The other main players in this drama were the Malayans, who, in 1961, agreed to Singapore's merger with Malaya as part of a larger federation. This was also to include British territories in Borneo, with the British controlling the foreign affairs, defense and internal security of Singapore.
On 27 May 1961, the Malayan Prime Minister, proposed closer political and economic co-operation between the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei in the form of a merger. The main terms of the merger, agreed on by him and Lee Kuan Yew, were to have central government responsibility for defense, foreign affairs and internal security, but local autonomy in matters pertaining to education and labor. A referendum on the terms of the merger held in Singapore on 1 September 1962 showed the people's overwhelming support for the Peoples Action Party's plan to go ahead with the merger.
Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963, and consisted of the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo, now Sabah. Brunei opted out. Indonesia and the Philippines opposed the merger. President Sukarno of Indonesia worked actively against it during the three years of Indonesian confrontation.
The merger proved to be short-lived. Singapore was separated from the rest of Malaysia on 9 August 1965, and became a sovereign, democratic and independent nation.
A massive industrialization program was launched with the extension of the Jurong industrial estate and the creation of smaller estates in Kallang Park, Tanjong Rhu, Redhill, Tiong Bahru and Tanglin Halt. The Employment Act and the Industrial Relations Amendment were passed in 1968 to promote industrial peace and discipline among the workforce.
With the British Government's sudden decision in 1967 to withdraw its armed forces from Singapore by the end of 1971, Singapore set out to build up its own defense forces. The Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute was established in 1966 and compulsory national service was introduced in 1967. A Singapore Air Defense Command and a Singapore Maritime Command were set up in 1969. In August 1967, Singapore joined Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand to form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Singapore entered the 1970s as a politically stable state with a high rate of economic growth. The one-party Parliament that emerged from the 1968 general election became the pattern, with the Peoples Action Party winning all seats in 1972,1976 and 1980. In the 1984 and 1991 general elections, the PAP won all but two and four seats respectively.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1819 - The British governor arrived in Singapore and recognized the island as a natural choice for the new port
1819 - A formal treaty was signed on and modern Singapore was born
1860 - The population had swelled to over 80,000, more than half being Chinese
1914 - The Imperial Japanese Army invaded British Malaya, culminating in the Battle of Singapore and when the British force of 60,000 troops surrendered on 15 February 1942, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the defeat the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history. British losses during the fighting for Singapore were heavy, with a total of nearly 85,000 personnel captured, in addition to losses during the earlier fighting in Malaya
1942 - The Sook Ching purge took place from 18 February to 4 March 1942 at various places in the region and between 5,000 and 25,000 ethnic Chinese people were killed in the subsequent massacre
1945 - After the Japanese surrender to the Allies, Singapore fell into a brief state of violence and disorder; looting and revenge-killing were widespread
1965 - The Malaysian Parliament voted 126 to 0, with Singaporean delegates not present, to move a bill to amend the constitution providing for Singapore to separate from the Federation of Malaysia