Singapore got self-government in 1959. But the
British had control of internal security and
Many felt a merger between Malaysia and Singapore
would help Singapore achieve early independence,
riding on Malaysias independence which was
attained on Aug 31, 1957.
|The Prime Minister of
Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was initially
against the idea.
He felt that the
predominantly Chinese population in Singapore
would upset the delicate racial balance in
Malaysia. At that time, Malays formed 49% of
Malaysias total population while
the Chinese formed 37%.
Tunku also viewed the Chinese in Singapore as
being sympathetic towards the Communist cause. He was
unwilling to allow the Communists to creep into
Malaysia again, after it had wiped
(ST, May 29, 1961)
The merger plan
It was not until 1961 that Tunku changed his stand
on the issue of merger.
The Tunku feared that Singapore might rapidly
change into a communist state and would then become a
troublesome neighbour. The merger plan would include
the Borneo territories; Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, to
maintain racial balance. This would bring the five
territories closer together in political and economic
cooperation, creating "a mighty Malaysia".
At a luncheon speech to the Foreign Correspondents
Association in Singapore in May 1961, the Tunku
announced a plan for merger.
(ST, Sep 3, 1962)
Singaporeans want merger
Kuan Yew explains what merger means to
hawkers in his constituency
|In September 1962, the
people of Singapore voted for merger with
Malaysia. Despite calls by the Barisan
Sosialis to return blank votes, 71% of the
voters voted in favour of Alternative A:
|U Thant: Go ahead
(ST, Sep 15, 1963)
UN mission survey
bomb kills 2 girls at bank
(ST, Mar 11, 1965)
The MacDonald House bombing
The Malaysia negotiations
were strongly opposed by the Philippines and
Indonesia. The Philippines claimed that North Borneo
belonged to them. President Sukarno opposed the idea
of Malaysia as it was in conflict with his own dream
of Indonesia Raya which would cover the Malay world.
The Philippines and Indonesia insisted that it was
important to get the views of the people of the
Borneo territories. A United Nations mission carried
out a survey on the opinions of the people of Borneo.
The findings showed that the people of Sabah and
Sarawak wanted to join Malaysia.
attendants carry out victims of the explosion
Sukarno declared a state of armed
confrontation which lasted for two years.
worst incident in Singapore was the bombing
of MacDonald House at Orchard Road. The
confrontation ended in August 1966.
(ST, Sept 16, 1963)
(ST, Sept 16, 1963)
The Tunku's Malaysia Day speech
It was against this backdrop of tension that the
merger was finalised and Malaysia was established on
Sept 16, 1963.
thousands of people jammed the
gaily-decorated streets in all 14 states to greet
the birth of the new nation.
Week-long-celebrations were held to mark
Malaysia Day. It fulfilled Prime Minister Lee
Kuan Yew's goal of getting independence
Royal Malaysian flag unfurled at the Padang
after the proclamation was read by PM Lee
The proclamation of Malaysia was read by Tunku
Abdul Rahman at the Merdeka Stadium.
However, the merger did not last for long.
Conflicts over finances, revenues, a common market
and politics caused rifts in the relationship.
distribution of wealth
In December 1963, Lee Kuan Yew argued that the
Malaysia budget created an unequal distribution of
wealth instead of improving social conditions.
2) Decreased trade
The merger did not result in increased trade.
Instead, Indonesias boycott cut off trade ties
3) Demands for larger
portion of Singapores revenues
In December 1964, the Central Government demanded
a larger portion of Singapores revenues to meet
increased defence expenditure which resulted from the
4) Closure of the Bank of
The Central Government ordered the closure of the
Bank of China despite protests by Singapore. The Bank
of China had played an important role in
Singapores trade with China.
|We dont want PAP
(ST, March 15, 1964)
Tunku rejects PAP at rally
participation in the 1964 Malaysia elections
PAP argued that it would be a more effective
partner of UMNO within the Alliance instead of MCA,
as it would gain the support of the Chinese
UMNO viewed this move as a challenge to its
Malay-based political system. MCA, on the other hand,
felt that this was a threat to their position in the
Although PAP won only one seat in the elections,
it added to the number of Singapore representatives
in the federal legislature, making PAP the leading
(ST, July 22, 1964)
Govt appeals for calm after riots
6) Racial riots
between the Malays and Chinese erupted in
Singapore on July 21, 1964. 23 people were
killed and 454 were injured in the riots.
police sergeant, one of the many policemen
armed with canes to thrash unruly youths who
took part in the anti-Malaysia demonstration)
to cooperate with Singapore while Lee is Premier
(ST, June 2, 1965)
Scathing attack of Malaysia's Finance
Minister on Lee
7) Formation of a
Malaysia Solidarity Convention
The PAP formed a Malaysia Solidarity
Convention in May 1965 which combined various
opposition parties in Malaysia. It called for a
democratic Malaysian Malaysia that would be for all
Malaysians and not one community.
Members of UMNOs right wing viewed the
Convention as a plot against Kuala Lumpur. Lee Kuan
Yews open attacks against the Central
government sparked accusations that he was trying
to seize power for himself.
8) Support for Barisan
The rifts between the Alliance and PAP worsened
when UMNO openly supported the Barisan Sosialis
candidate in the Hong Lim by-election in Singapore.
|Singapore is out!
(ST, Aug 10, 1965)
shattered...now parting of ways
(ST, Aug 10, 1965)
pledge by Lee: We want to cooperate with Central Govt
(ST, Aug 10, 1965)
Lee promises to work with Malaysian
|On Aug 7,
1965, the two prime ministers met. Singapore
was told to leave Malaysia immediately. Lee
Kuan Yew, Dr Toh Chin Chye and S Rajaratnam
tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Tunku to
change his decision.
The Tunku, saw the
situation as hopeless -- as soon as one issue
was resolved, another cropped up. After much
thought, the Tunku was convinced that
separation was the only way to settle their
differences without bloodshed.
On Aug 9, 1965, Tunku Abdul Rahman
issued a proclamation that Singapore would
cease to be a part of Malaysia and would
become independent and separate.
Kuan Yew, at press conference to announce the
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