Decolonisation of Singapore

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John de Bhal

Singapore achieved independence in 1959 due to a lack of British colonial retaliation to the Japanese occupation during World War II. In 1965, it achieved independence for a second time as a result of poor leadership within the Federation of Malaysia from both Tunku Abdul Rahman and Lee Kuan Yew.

Singapore, unlike most other states and nations, has achieved independence twice: once in 1959 when it was decolonised by the British;1 then again after it was expelled from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965, into which Singapore had integrated in 1963. 2 In contrast to many other independence movements, Singapore’s were not violent; political decisions led to the island nation’s independence in both instances. Nationalism and
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Representative of a Singaporean government perspective.

John de Bhal

of unity, a year of constitutional revolution and political stability…”.12 All in all, the British took the path of least resistance when leaving Singapore, even though Singaporean authorities and people wanted their own independent nation at that point.13 The British economy was struggling and it was apparent that Singapore was too much of a financial burden.14 It was the nationalistic feeling inspired by Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP, which came about as a result of Japanese occupation during World War II, that caused the decolonisation of Singapore in 1959.

The racially prejudiced and poor leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman

contributed significantly to Singapore’s independence and expulsion from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965. Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaya, and then Malaysia, from 1957 to 1970 15 placed the needs of his nation before the needs of the merged Federation. He outlined in 1958 that if Singapore wanted to merge with what was Malaya at that point, then “… they [Singapore] must be ready to serve, ready to die if need be, for Malaya and Malaya alone.”16 Nations surrounding Singapore and Malaysia were consequently adamant that the merger was not going to be a success because of this, and that the Tunku was going to privilege the people of his nation in any circumstance.17 This is reinforced as President Sukarno

Government of the Republic of Singapore (1961) State of

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