Times, Aug 9, 1965
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..."
broke everything we stood for."
Singapore's Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, this
afternoon called on the people to remain firm and
calm -- three hours after Singapore ceased to be part
His eyes brimming with tears, Mr. Lee declared:
"What has happened has happened. But be firm and
We are going to have a multi-racial nation in
Singapore. This is not a Malay nation, not a Chinese
nation, not an Indian nation.
"Everybody will have a place in Singapore,
and we will continue helping the Malays in
competition with Umno.
"We unite regardless of race, language,
religion or culture."
And with grim determination, Mr. Lee said his
Government would fight to survive within its declared
policy of non-Communist, democratic socialism.
"We are prepared to trade with anybody,
including Russia, China and even Indonesia if they
want to trade with us -- just trade," he said.
In pursuance of this policy, Mr. Lee immediately
announced that the Bank of China taken over by Bank
Negara last week, would be allowed to continue
operations on a purely commercial basis.
All the bank's staff must be local people not
classified as security risks.
At the same time, he announced that turnover tax
-- long criticised by Singapore for its injurious
effects on trade, economy and the cost of living --
would be scrapped immediately.
Payroll tax would be revoked and replaced by an
unemployment insurance scheme with both employer and
The emotion-filled conference before television
cameras led off with a query on Singapore's attitude
Mr. Lee said: "We want to be friends with
Indonesia. We have always wanted to be friends with
Indonesia, and we would like to settle any
difficulties and differences, with Indonesia.
"But we must survive. We have got the right
to survive, and to survive we must be sure that we
cannot be invaded or knocked out by rockets.
"But the important thing is, in spite of all
that has happened, which was largely due to
ideological differences between the Alliance
Government and us -- we want to cooperate with them
on the most fair and equal basis. The emphasis is
"Within the limits of our position we would
like to bring about a settlement both between
Indonesia and ourselves, and between Indonesia and
Malaysia. Settlement can only be on that basis."
Mr. Lee said this was an attitude which stemmed
from a realistic appraisal of Singapore's position.
Pressed for a more definite answer, Mr. Lee said
that Indonesia must first recognise Singapore as an
independent, sovereign state "with a capacity
and strong will of its own."
Of the economic future of the island, the Prime
Minister said: "The years ahead will require
that our two Governments -- Malaysian and Singapore
-- work in the closest cooperation, not just in
defence and security, but also in commerce and
"And I say I was greatly relieved when the
Tengku told me in my second discussion with him
yesterday morning that he appreciated this point.
"And he assured me that economic cooperation
between our two countries was most necessary if
either of us is to survive the pressures from common
Mr. Lee thought there might have to be a quid pro
quo for certain goods like tyres.
Dunlop tyres were used as an example. These, he
said, came to Singapore from Kuala Lumpur freely,
while Singapore-made Bridgestone tyres were
restricted from going up.
This, he said, was not in conformity with the
realities of the situation, which was that Singapore
had 40% of the purchasing power while the rest of
Malaysia had 60%.
"I don't want to rush these things...but
there must be a quid pro quo," he said.
He reminded newsmen that an ordinary Singaporean
had double or treble the purchasing power of a
similar worker in Malaya.
Again, Mr. Lee said he was gratified by the
He said the Tengku told him as he left yesterday:
"Well, you know, when you are no longer in
Malaysia, we are not quarreling in Parliament or in
the constituencies, we shall be friends again. We
shall need each other and we shall cooperate..."
Mr. Lee added: "It is my earnest desire that
this be so."
Between Singapore and Malaysia there was an
inexorable nexus between commerce and industry and
stability and security, he pointed out.
If, for instance, economic co-operation did not
keep pace with defence co-operation, whatever
Government -- be it capitalist or socialist -- that
Government must seek a living for its people by
trading with the devil, Mr Lee said.
"These are the facts of life...that's what I
feel about it. I may be wrong.
"You might get an anti-Communist Government
here which is prepared to see workers unemployed,
discontented and kept discontented by repression.
"But you know the PAP. We can't do that. We
don't believe that it is the final solution...
"If Singapore could have been governed by the
gun indefinitely, I think it would have been tried by
the British before, or I think by us, or by the
former Central Government."
But a people could not be kept down. Co-operation
was the alternative, Mr. Lee said.
He continued: "And we can help Malaysia's
development on a fair basis.
"We don't want all the industries. It is not
fair. Last year change in the identity cards...net
gain to Singapore of 10,000 people, most of whom are
in the 20 to 30 age group. Just about 25% of our
population is in that age group"
Would the Government consider immigration changes
to stop people from coming in from Malaya?
Mr. Lee replied: "We continue as usual. Why
change it? People come in from the Federation, they
work here...but they don't get the benefits.
"Within limits this doesn't matter. Whilst we
are not altogether happy about the net gain of
10,000, in that 10,000 must be 100 to 150 able,
trained technocrats -- engineers, doctors, teachers
-- able men who for various reasons seek a living in
Singapore. But of course, we can't have a
Mr. Lee was then asked to recount the events which
had led to the final break.
He said that on Saturday afternoon, he was not
convinced in spite of what Dr. Goh Keng Swee had told
him, that there was no alternative to the break-up.
"I didn't believe that there was no other
way. I believed then that I could still convince the
Tengku that there were a number of other ways to
reduce communal tension, such as a looser Federation.
"After what he told me when we were alone, I
realised that there was no other way, and I asked if
that was the solution.
"I knew from what he said -- and he has an
intuition about these matters -- that we would all be
in for big communal trouble if Singapore or if I and
my colleagues insisted on going on with Malaysia as
"Any other kind of Malaysia than a Malaysian
Malaysia is unacceptable. Perhaps now with Singapore
out there may be a Malaysian Malaysia because the
pressure will be much slower."
They might have thought that a highly urbanised
city with two million people like Singapore was too
rapid for them, he added.
But with all the outpourings in the Jawi Press, it
was felt that unless a stand was made, all would be
But the Tengku told him that he could not go on
holding the situation much longer, and that he could
see real trouble in Malaysia if Singapore continued
to be in it.
"I met the Tengku again yesterday morning
because a number of my colleagues felt very strongly
"A number of my colleagues feel passionately
about what they feel is their homeland. They were
born and bred there."
Dr. Toh Chin Chye, Mr. Lee said would not have
signed the agreement if the Tengku was not convinced
that there was no other way.
Mr. Rajaratnam and Mr. Ong Pang Boon had close
ties with the Federation too and were also against
"Everytime we look back to the moment we
signed this document it is for us a moment of
"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..."
His voice faltering, Mr. Lee added: "We are
connected by geography, economics and ties of
kinship...It broke everything we stood for."
Mr. Lee broke down. Tears rolled down his cheeks.
For a moment he buried his face in his hands. He
started to speak, then broke down again.
Apologetically, he said he was far too angry to go
on with the subject.
After a 20-minute break, he was asked about plans
for diplomatic representation abroad.
He said Mr. Rajaratnam would be in a better
position to answer this.
But he thought it likely that missions would be
set up initially in Cairo, Addis Ababa, Delhi,
Rangoon, Phnom Penh, Japan and the Commonwealth
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