History Podcasts

Singapore Withdraws From Malaysian Federation - History

Singapore Withdraws From Malaysian Federation - History

Singapore withdrew from the Malaysian Federation at the request of Malaysia. The Malaysian government was upset by attempts made by the Singapore Chinese Youth Organization to extend its influence to other parts of the Federation. On August 9th, Singapore became an independent Republic and joined the British Commonwealth of Nations.

British withdrawal from Singapore

On 18 July 1967, Britain announced that it would withdraw its troops from Singapore by the mid-1970s. 1 Six months later, the deadline was brought forward to 1971. 2 The sudden pullout of British forces presented serious problems to Singapore&rsquos defence and economic security. In response, Singapore embarked on a rapid industrialisation programme, tightened its labour laws to attract foreign investments, strengthened its defence through military cooperation with other countries, and tripled its military spending. 3 By the deadline, Singapore had achieved strong economic growth and nearly full employment. 4 Most of the British troops had moved out of Singapore by October 1971, leaving a token number behind. The last of the British troops left in 1976. 5

Background
In Britain, following the Labour Party&rsquos election into power in 1964, the new Labour government was forced to reduce the country&rsquos defence spending which was burdening its already weakened economy. 6 Maintaining military bases in Singapore alone cost £70 million a year. 7 By April 1967, the government had decided to halve its commitment to the Far East Command by 1971 and disengage all troops by 1975. 8

In November 1967, the British were forced to devalue the pound due to mounting economic problems. 9 This led to deep cuts to its government budget, and it became increasingly clear that the British government could no longer uphold its military commitment in Southeast Asia. 10 On 16 January 1968, Britain announced a total withdrawal of its troops that were &ldquoEast of Suez&rdquo by end 1971, with the pullout from Malaysia and Singapore to be done by 31 March 1971 &ndash four years earlier than planned. 11

The announcement came as a shock to Singapore, because the British had given their assurance that the withdrawal would be done in stages. 12 At the time, Singapore was heavily dependent on Britain for its defence and economy. As the first batch of 900 national servicemen had just started their training on 17 August 1967, Singapore was ill-equipped to take up its own defence 13 In addition, the British military bases were contributing over 20 percent to Singapore&rsquos gross national product, and it was projected that about 25,000 base workers in Singapore would be rendered jobless in 1971 as a result of the military withdrawal. 14

Initial reactions
When informed of the decision, the Singapore government responded with dismay and anger. 15 Then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew threatened to withdraw from the pound sterling, give the dockyard to the Japanese, and disrupt British shipping and trade. 16 He also suggested that if the British forces were to pull out too quickly, he would have to &ldquohire mercenaries to defend Singapore&rdquo. 17 In a final bid to reverse the situation, Lee and then Minister for Finance Goh Keng Swee left for London. There, they met with British political leaders, and rallied for support through television appearances. 18

Despite the protests and intense lobbying, Britain announced on 16 January 1968 that they would pull out from Southeast Asia by 1971. As a compromise, the British extended the withdrawal deadline from March to December 1971. 19

Overcoming the crisis
When it became clear that Britain&rsquos decision was irreversible, Singapore leaders quickly began to plan for the future. They successfully negotiated with the British for a soft loan of £50 million, free transfer of key assets, help with operating the air defence system, and training of military staff. 20 In the same year, the Bases Economic Conversion Department was set up to oversee the conversion and commercialisation of lands and facilities including the naval bases that had belonged to the British. 21 These assets were to be instrumental in propelling Singapore&rsquos shipbuilding industry forward. 22

To obtain the mandate that they needed to make far-reaching economic changes, the People&rsquos Action Party (PAP) called for an early election to be held in April 1968. 23 With the main opposition party Barisan Sosialis boycotting the election, only seven of the 58 parliamentary seats were contested and the PAP was returned to power on Nomination Day. 24 The PAP candidates also won all seven contested seats, resulting in a clean sweep. 25 In August 1968, new labour laws were passed to curb industrial disputes and attract foreign investors. 26 Singapore also embarked on a rapid industrialisation programme. 27

In the area of defence, military spending was tripled, and an air force and a navy were added to support the army. 28 The Five Power Defence Arrangements, which comprised the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, was also formed to replace the defunct Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement drawn up in 1957. 29 Although most of the British troops had withdrawn from Singapore by October 1971, a small contingent of British, Australian and New Zealand forces stayed on as a token military presence. 30 The last British soldier left Singapore in March 1976. 31 However, troops from New Zealand left Singapore only in 1989. 32 Australian ground troops had left even before the British in December 1975. 33

The British withdrawal from Singapore marks the country&rsquos emerging new place in world history as a development-driven, industrial state at the end of the 1960s. It was a milestone event that enabled the making of a &ldquonation&rdquo. 34

Authors
Marsita Omar & Chan Fook Weng

References
1. Pull-out in middle 1970&rsquos . (1967, July 19). The Straits Times , p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. All out by 1971 . (1968, January 17). The Straits Times , p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG Murfett, M. H., et al. (2011). Between two oceans: A military history of Singapore from 1275 to 1971 . Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 328&ndash329. (Call no.: RSING 355.0095957 BET)
3. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005 . Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 310&ndash311. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
4. Wee, S. (1971, September 15). &lsquoPhenomenal&rsquo growth by our industries . New Nation , p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Murfett, M. H., et al. (2011). Between two oceans: A military history of Singapore from 1275 to 1971 . Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 333. (Call no.: RSING 355.0095957 BET)
6. Murfett, M. H., et al. (2011). Between two oceans: A military history of Singapore from 1275 to 1971 . Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 321&ndash325. (Call no.: RSING 355.0095957 BET) Labour, but only just. . (1964, October 17). The Straits Times , p. 1 Healey rules out big cuts in Britain&rsquos manpower . (1965, August 6). The Straits Times , p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Hack, K. (2001). Defence and decolonisation in Southeast Asia: Britain, Malaya and Singapore 1941&ndash1968 . Richmond: Curzon Press, p. 285. (Call no.: RSING 959.504 HAC)
8. Murfett, M. H., et al. (2011). Between two oceans: A military history of Singapore from 1275 to 1971 . Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 325. (Call no.: RSING 355.0095957 BET)
9. Wilson explains . (1967, November 21). The Straits Times , p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Murfett, M. H., et al. (2011). Between two oceans: A military history of Singapore from 1275 to 1971 . Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 328. (Call no.: RSING 355.0095957 BET) Hack, K. (2001). Defence and decolonisation in Southeast Asia: Britain, Malaya and Singapore 1941&ndash1968 . Richmond: Curzon Press, pp. 286&ndash287. (Call no.: RSING 959.504 HAC)
11. All out by 1971 . (1968, January 17). The Straits Times , p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG Darby, P. (1973). British defence policy east of Suez, 1947&ndash1968 . London: Oxford University Press for the Royal Institute of International Affairs, p. 324. (Call no.: RSING 355.033542 DAR)
12. Lee, K. Y. (2000). From third world to first: The Singapore story, 1965&ndash2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew . Singapore: Times Editions: Singapore Press Holdings, pp. 50&ndash60. (Call no.: RSING 959.57092 LEE-[HIS])
13. Dinners to honour S&rsquopore&rsquos first batch of soldiers . (1967, August 18). The Straits Times , p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Lee begins talks to avert total British pull-out by 1975 . (1967, June 27). The Straits Times , p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG Lee, K. Y. (2000). From third world to first: The Singapore story, 1965&ndash2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew . Singapore: Times Editions: Singapore Press Holdings, p. 69. (Call no.: RSING 959.57092 LEE-[HIS])
15. Lee, K. Y. (2000). From third world to first: The Singapore story, 1965&ndash2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew . Singapore: Times Editions: Singapore Press Holdings, pp. 57&ndash60. (Call no.: RSING 959.57092 LEE-[HIS])
16. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005 . Singapore: NUS Press, p. 309. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS]) Lee, K. Y. (2000). From third world to first: The Singapore story, 1965&ndash2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew . Singapore: Times Editions: Singapore Press Holdings, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 959.57092 LEE-[HIS]) Lee warns: We may cut ties . (1968, January 9). The Straits Times , p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Lee: If there&rsquos a power vacuum&hellip . (1968, January 15). The Straits Times , p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Lee, K. Y. (2000). From third world to first: The Singapore story, 1965&ndash2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew . Singapore: Times Editions: Singapore Press Holdings, p. 61. (Call no.: RSING 959.57092 LEE-[HIS])
19. Lee, K. Y. (2000). From third world to first: The Singapore story, 1965&ndash2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew . Singapore: Times Editions: Singapore Press Holdings, p. 60. (Call no.: RSING 959.57092 LEE-[HIS])
20. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005 . Singapore: NUS Press, p. 309. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
21. Rozario, F. (1968, February 23). A takeover of 15,000 acres . The Straits Times , p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005 . Singapore: NUS Press, p. 309. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
23. Yeo, J. (1968, February 10). Feb. 17 is line-up day . The Straits Times , p. 1 De Cruz, P. (1968, March 24). The battle for economic survival . The Straits Times , p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Yeo, J., et al. (1968, February 18). Walk-over . The Straits Times , p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Chandran, R., et al. (1968, April 14). The PAP seven sweep to victory . The Straits Times , p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Necessary change . (1968, July 16). The Straits Times , p. 12 Right to work past 55&hellip. (1968, August 1). The Straits Times , p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG Drysdale, J. G. S. (1984). Singapore, struggle for success . Singapore: Times Books International, p. 407. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DRY-[HIS])
27. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005 . Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 310&ndash311. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
28. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005 . Singapore: NUS Press, p. 311. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS])
29. Thompson, S. (2015). British military withdrawal and the rise of regional cooperation in South-east Asia, 1964&ndash73 . New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 127&ndash129. (Call no.: RSEA 355. 03109410959 THO)
30. Murfett, M. H., et al. (2011). Between two oceans: A military history of Singapore from 1275 to 1971 . Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 333. (Call no.: RSING 355.0095957 BET) Vanzi, M. (1971, October 30). Now nowhere east of the Suez&hellip . New Nation , p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Sung, B. (1976, March 31). No fanfare as Britain&rsquos last soldier leaves . The Straits Times , p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Thomas, J. (1989, July 20). NZ troop withdrawal marks more than an end of an era . The Business Times , p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Troop pullout talks soon . (1975, May 2). New Nation , p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Loh, K. S. (2011). The British military withdrawal from Singapore and the anatomy of a catalyst. In D. Heng & Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied (Eds.), Singapore in global history (pp. 195&ndash214). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)

The information in this article is valid as at October 2020 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Malaysia profile - Timeline

14th century - Conversion of Malays to Islam begins.

1826 - British settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singapore combine to form the Colony of Straits Settlements, from where the British extend their influence by establishing protectorates over the Malay sultanates of the peninsula.

1942-45 - Japanese occupation.

1948-60 - State of emergency to counter local communist insurgency.

1957 - Federation of Malaya becomes independent from Britain with Tunku Abdul Rahman as prime minister.

1963 - British colonies of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore join Federation of Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia.

1965 - Singapore withdraws from Malaysia, which is reduced to 13 states communist insurgency begins in Sarawak.

Positive discrimination for Malays

1971 - Government introduces minimum quotas for Malays in business, education and the civil service.

1981 - Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime minister.

1989-90 - Local communist insurgents sign peace accord with government.

1998 - Mahathir Mohamad sacks his deputy and presumed successor, Anwar Ibrahim, on charges of sexual misconduct, against the background of differences between the two men over economic policy.

2000 - Ibrahim is found guilty of sodomy and sentenced to nine years in prison. This is added to the six-year jail sentence he was given in 1999 after being found guilty of corruption following a controversial trial.

2001 - Dozens arrested during worst ethnic clashes in decades between Malays and ethnic Indians.

2003 October - Abdullah Ahmad Badawi takes over as prime minister as Mahathir Mohamad steps down after 22 years in office.

2004 - Anwar Ibrahim freed after court overturns his sodomy conviction.

2006 - Malaysia shelves construction of controversial bridge to Singapore.

2009 - Badawi steps down as prime minister and is replaced by his deputy, Najib Abdul Razak.

2014 March - Government and Malaysia Airlines face international criticism over handling of Flight MH370, which goes missing en route to China in unexplained circumstances.

2014 July - Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashes in eastern Ukraine after being shot down by Russian-backed separatists, with the loss of all 298 people on board.

2015 February - Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is jailed for five years after failing to win an appeal against a sodomy conviction.

2015 June - The Wall Street Journal alleges that close to $700m (£490m) from the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB was deposited in Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank account.

2016 November - Thousands of anti-government protesters take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib over his alleged links to a corruption scandal.

2017 February - Kim Jong-nam, the estranged brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is killed with a nerve agent at a Malaysian airport.

2018 May - Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime minister again as head of an four-party coalition, defeating his erstwhile protege Najib Razak.

2020 March - Muhyiddin Yassin forms government with the UMNO, the former party of Najib Razak, after the surprise collapse of Mahathir Mohamad's coalition.


Singapore Withdraws From Malaysian Federation - History

Anglo Dutch Treaty and establishment
of Malaya as a Crown colony

Four Malay states combine to
form the Federated Malay States

UMNO (United Malays National
Organisation) formed to oppose
post-war political settlement

British-ruled Malayan territories
unified as Federation of Malaya

Federation of Malaya independence

Malaysia Agreement (MA63): Federation
of Malaysia formed, consisting of the
British colonies of Malaya, North Borneo
(now Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore

Singapore withdraws from Malaysia

Tunku Abdul Rahman
resigns, replaced by Abdul Razak

Introduction of the New Economic
Policy (NEP): quotas for Malays in
business, education, civil service
and all economic spheres

Formation of Barisan Nasional (BN
or National Front coalition) with UMNO
becoming the dominant party in BN

Hussein Onn becomes prime
minister after Razak’s death

Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime
minister after Hussein’s resignation
he wins the next five consecutive
general elections (1982, 1986, 1990,
1995, 1999), ruling for 22 years

Arrest of Anwar Ibrahim, Deputy
Prime Minister (1993–1998), on
sodomy and corruption charges

Anwar Ibrahim sentenced
to nine years for sodomy

Mahathir Mohamad resigns,
succeeded by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Badawi steps down as prime
minister, replaced by Deputy Prime
Minister Najib Abdul Razak, son of
Malaysia’s second prime minister

Anwar Ibrahim acquitted of second
sodomy charge prosecution files an
appeal against Anwar’s acquittal

Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal overturned by
Court of Appeal Anwar sentenced to five
years for the second sodomy conviction

Exposure of 1MDB fraud claims

Prime Minister Najib cleared by
attorney general in relation to 1MDB
fraud US Department of Justice
announces seizure of 1MDB assets

General election for
Federal Legislative Council

General election for 1st Parliament
of the Federation of Malaya: Prime
Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman
considered the “father of the nation”

General election for 2nd Parliament
of the new Federation of Malaysia

General election for 3rd
Parliament of Malaysia race riots
between Malays and non-Malays

General election for 4th
Parliament of Malaysia

General election for 5th
Parliament of Malaysia

General election for 6th
Parliament of Malaysia

General election for 7th
Parliament of Malaysia

General election for 8th
Parliament of Malaysia

General election for 9th
Parliament of Malaysia

Anwar Ibrahim sentenced
to six years for corruption
General election for 9th
Parliament of Malaysia

General election for 11th
Parliament of Malaysia
Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy
conviction overturned

General election for 12th
Parliament of Malaysia: for the
first time in Malaysian history,
BN loses its two-thirds majority
in parliament and control of five
state assemblies Opposition
leader Anwar Ibrahim arrested
on second sodomy charges

General election for 13th
Parliament of Malaysia

General election for 14th Parliament of
Malaysia: won by Pakatan Harapan coalition
led by Mahathir Mohamad, the first regime
change in Malaysian political history Anwar
Ibrahim released from prison after being
granted a royal pardon by Malaysian King
Anwar elected to Parliament in a by-election


Singapore’s separation from Malaysia

On 9 August 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia to become an independent and sovereign state. 1 The separation was the result of deep political and economic differences between the ruling parties of Singapore and Malaysia. 2 Even before the proclamation of the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, leaders from both sides of the causeway were mindful that these differences &ldquo[could not] be wiped out overnight&rdquo. 3 At a press conference announcing the separation, then Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was overcome by emotion and broke down. Singapore&rsquos union with Malaysia had lasted for fewer than 23 months. 4

Background to the merger
The Federation of Malaysia officially came into being on 16 September 1963 following the amalgamation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo (later renamed Sabah). 5 The terms of Singapore&rsquos entry into Malaysia, which were agreed upon by both the Singapore and federal governments, were published in a White Paper in November 1961. 6

The White Paper documented the outcome of talks between then Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and then Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman on Singapore&rsquos inclusion into Malaysia. Highlights of the terms included the margins of Singapore&rsquos autonomy, Singapore&rsquos political representation in the federal government, the status of Singapore citizens and Singapore&rsquos revenue contribution to the federal government. 7 Prior to the signing of the Malaysia Agreement in London, there had been a week of &ldquoarduous and gruelling negotiations&rdquo over the thornier issues of a common market between Singapore and Malaya, and the portion of Singapore&rsquos revenue and taxes that would go to the federal government in Kuala Lumpur. 8

Singapore&rsquos de-facto independence
With these issues settled, the Malaysia Agreement was ratified on 9 July 1963 9 and the formation of Malaysia set for 31 August 1963. 10 However, the formation was postponed to 16 September 1963 to give the United Nations more time to complete a study on the sentiments of the people in the Borneo territories over the merger. 11

The delay, however, did not stop Lee from declaring Singapore&rsquos independence within Malaysia on 9 July 1963, much to the chagrin of the Malayan and British governments. 12 Both sides did not send representatives to attend the ceremony and they questioned the legality and validity of Singapore&rsquos claim to power over its defence and external affairs. 13 The federal government in Kuala Lumpur also felt that Lee had encouraged Sabah and Sarawak to follow suit, as they, too, declared their de-facto independence on the same day. 14 Nonetheless, after the United Nations found that the majority of the people in Sabah and Sarawak supported the merger, the formation of the Federation of Malaysia was officially declared on 16 September 1963. 15 By then, the Singapore government had called for a snap election. 16

Aftermath of the 1963 Singapore General Election
Held on 21 September 1963, the General Election saw the ruling People&rsquos Action Party (PAP), led by Lee, winning 37 of the 51 seats it contested. 17 The ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party in Malaysia also contested in the elections through the Singapore Alliance. The Alliance fielded 41 candidates but failed to capture any seats. 18 Singapore UMNO (SUMNO), one of the coalition partners in the Singapore Alliance, lost the three seats it had held in predominantly Malay constituencies to PAP Malay candidates. 19

UMNO and SUMNO did not react well to defeat of the Singapore Alliance. 20 Commenting on the loss of the Malay constituencies by SUMNO on 22 September 1963, the Tunku said he was &ldquosurprised&rdquo that the Malays in Singapore had turned their backs on UMNO and had instead voted for the PAP. He attributed this change of attitude to &ldquotraitors&rdquo within SUMNO. 21 In what was seen as a political challenge to the PAP, the Tunku stated, on another occasion on 27 September 1963, that he would personally direct the affairs of SUMNO in Singapore 22 and would play &ldquoan important part&rdquo in SUMNO&rsquos campaign in future elections. The Malaysian prime minister also reminded the crowd that the government of Singapore was &ldquoin the hands of the central government in Malaysia&rdquo rather than the PAP. 23

Extremist Malay nationalists, in particular then secretary-general of UMNO Syed Ja&rsquoafar Albar, reacted more strongly to the defeat. 24 During one of the post-mortem meetings of SUMNO&rsquos defeat held on 24 September 1963 in Johor Bahru, Syed vowed to &ldquofix&rdquo Lee using &ldquoboth words and fists&rdquo when he showed up in the Malaysian parliament. Other extremists made equally heated speeches during other meetings and floated allegations that the PAP had intimated the Malays to vote against SUMNO. 25 They even burned an effigy of Lee at a Singapore meeting to show their displeasure. 26

In response, Lee stated in his victory rally on 28 September 1963 that all parties should &ldquoget over this post-election phrase&rdquo for the benefit of Malaysia. 27 He affirmed in his speech that the federal government in Kuala Lumpur was the overall authority and it was necessary to have a Malay as prime minister of Malaysia. He further noted that his party did not have the intention to challenge UMNO for power in Kuala Lumpur. Instead, the PAP aimed to cooperate with the federal government. 28 However, Lee was clear that the cooperation would be &ldquoon equal terms, not that of master and servant&rdquo. 29 Lee said that the PAP could help UMNO understand urban Chinese voters better than its coalition partners including the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). According to Lee, this was something the coalition partners had failed at as they had lost ground to the opposition. 30

Although Lee&rsquos remarks on the coalition partners drew criticism from the Tunku, he welcomed Lee&rsquos offer of cooperation on the condition that the Singapore prime minister would appreciate the political set-up across the causeway. 31 In response, Lee assured the Tunku that the PAP would not set up a branch in Kuala Lumpur. He also nominated then SUMNO leader Ahmad bin Haji Taff as one of the 13 Singapore representatives in the federal parliament to mollify the Tunku over the defeat of SUMNO. 32 The gestures from both leaders appeared to mend ties between the two governments when the Tunku approved Lee&rsquos proposal for an African &ldquoTruth Mission&rdquo in December 1963 to shore up the credentials of Malaysia among African nations. 33 As a whole, the mission was to counter Indonesia&rsquos confrontation campaign by debunking Jakarta&rsquos allegation that Malaysia was set up as a neo-colonial entity to encircle Indonesia. 34

Aftermath of the 1964 Federal General Election
However, the improved relationship between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur did not last. It made a turn after the PAP announced on 1 March 1964 that it would be sending a team of 11 candidates to participate in the 1964 General Election in Malaysia. 35 The decision was made by the PAP central executive committee while Lee was on a Truth Mission in Africa. Initially, Lee had reservations about endorsing the central committee&rsquos decision because he had verbally agreed not to contest in Malaysia in exchange for the Tunku&rsquos promise not to contest in Singapore. 36 However, since the Tunku had contested through the Singapore Alliance in the 1963 Singapore General Election, Lee felt that he was no longer bound by the agreement and decided to support the central committee&rsquos decision. 37

The PAP only won one seat in the election, and the winning PAP candidate and the rest of the Singapore representatives were subsequently branded as opposition in the federal parliament. The Tunku also offered to make Lee the leader of the opposition, 38 but Lee declined. In Lee&rsquos first post-election speech in the federal parliament, he noted that Kuala Lumpur&rsquos communal approach to politics might not be sustainable in promoting racial unity in the long-term, and should open up to the PAP for new values to better integrate the races. 39 The Tunku made it clear to Lee that the PAP government should confine its role to Singapore and devote its attention to turning Singapore into &ldquothe New York of South East Asia&rdquo. In exchange, the Tunku assured Lee that his coalition partners would stay out of Singapore. 40

However, the UMNO extremists wanted no such compromise as they viewed the pan-Malaysian and non-communal platform that the PAP espoused during the run-up to the 1964 election as a threat to the political approach of UMNO and its coalition partners. 41 After the Malaysian election, UMNO launched a campaign to denounce Lee. 42 They accused Lee and his government of mistreating the Malay community in Singapore and depriving them of the special rights their Malay counterparts in Malaysia had. Leading the campaign was Syed and other UMNO extremists such as Khir Johari, Ahmad Haji Taff and Syed Esa Almenoar. 43 They used fiery language and appealed to communal and religious emotions through Malay newspapers and rallies to rile up the Malay community in Singapore. 44 For instance, during a meeting on 12 July 1964 at the New Star cinema in Pasir Panjang, Syed made a provocative speech that saw the crowd shouting &ldquoCrush Lee&rdquo and &ldquoKill Lee&rdquo. 45 The tense atmosphere created by the smear campaign eventually led to the outbreak of two communal riots in Singapore on 21 July 1964 and 3 September 1964. 46

Although the riots were quickly quashed by authorities, they had undermined the racial stability in both Singapore and Malaysia. Appalled by the communal strife, Lee and the Tunku gave separate statements calling for unity. Leaders from the PAP and UMNO also visited the affected areas appealing for calm. The Tunku suggested that the riots had been instigated by Indonesian agents, while Lee promised that the incidents would be properly investigated. 47

On 25 September 1964, the Tunku and Lee agreed on a two-year truce. 48 The truce was a general agreement between the PAP and the Alliance party to avoid raising any sensitive issues regarding the respective positions of the communities in Malaysia and to relegate party differences to the background. 49 When announcing the truce, both parties also agreed to make the greatest effort in mobilising the people in Malaysia against the Indonesian confrontation campaign. 50

Persisting differences
The truce, however, only lasted a month. On 25 October 1964, UMNO member Khir Johari went to Singapore to open five new UMNO branches and announced plans to reorganise the Singapore Alliance so that it could defeat the PAP in the next Singapore general election. 51 In response, PAP Chairman Toh Chin Chye declared on 1 November 1964 that PAP was also to be reorganised so that it could &ldquoget at Malaya&rdquo. 52

Sparks also flew on economic and financial matters between then Malaysian Finance Minister Tan Siew Sin and then Singapore Finance Minister Goh Keng Swee when the former announced the Malaysian budget during the federal parliament on 25 November 1964. 53 The budget, which aimed to raise M$147 million through a series of new taxes to redress the federal deficit of M$543 million, would require Singapore to contribute 39.8 percent towards the yield of the new taxes even though its population was just 17 percent of the total population of Malaysia. This arrangement was described by Goh as &ldquoincongruous&rdquo. 54

The new taxes came in the form of a turnover tax, a payroll tax and taxes on diesel and sugar. Lee warned that the taxes on turnover and payroll might &ldquowork freak and inequitable results&rdquo on businesses and discourage the growth of labour-intensive industries. 55 As for taxes on diesel and sugar, Lee charged that it was an attempt by the federal government to squeeze the poor. 56 Lee also lambasted Tan for not consulting his government in advance on the proposed taxes. 57 The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) released a statement in Singapore describing the budget as &ldquoridiculous&rdquo and stating that the proposed taxes would certainly affect the wages of workers. 58 It also organised a rally to protest the anti-labour provisions of the budget on 14 December 1964 despite the federal government warning them not to do so. 59

In response, the Malaysian finance minister threatened to increase Singapore&rsquos revenue contribution to the federal government from 40 to 60 percent. 60 He also accused the PAP of using &ldquomob passions&rdquo against the turnover and payroll taxes and inciting the populace to violent action to bring down the federal government. 61 At the same time, Tan exhorted Singapore to fall in line with Malaysia&rsquos boycott of South African imports and announced the federal government&rsquos decision to close the Bank of China in Singapore. 62 The announcement drew the ire of Singapore&rsquos then Minister for Culture S. Rajaratnam who retorted that the bank&rsquos closure had been &ldquothrashed out&rdquo based on the &ldquopersonal likes or dislikes of the Malaysian Finance Minister&rdquo. 63

Heading towards separation
Amid the repeated feuds between the federal government and Singapore, the Tunku began reconsidering Singapore&rsquos position in the Federation. In December 1964, he mooted the idea of having a looser constitutional arrangement that would grant Singapore complete autonomy, except for foreign affairs and defence, in exchange for Singapore&rsquos seats in the federal parliament. 64 The negotiation, which was conducted in secret, continued in January 1965 but stalled a month later over questions of whether Singapore should be represented in the federal parliament and whether it should be granted full autonomy over its internal security. 65 Other issues under discussion included whether Singapore should have full control over its finances and powers of taxation, as well as of the closure of PAP branches in Malaysia and UMNO branches in Singapore. In addition, the British were not entirely supportive of the discussions for a rearrangement of the Federation. 66

Beyond the negotiation, there was little improvement in the relationship between the Alliance and PAP. In fact, after the Alliance made a series of announcements in January 1965 to strengthen their branches in Singapore, it seemed clear that the Alliance was aiming to unseat the PAP rather than work with them. 67 Further, there were more fundamental clashes between the finance ministers of Singapore and Malaysia over a series of economic arrangements. For example, the federal government was slow in issuing pioneer industry permits to prospective investors in Singapore &ndash of 69 pioneer permit applications the Economic Development Board (EDB) submitted, only two were approved by the federal government. 68 Tan also attempted to take over Singapore&rsquos textile quota to establish a garment industry in Malaysia. Although this move did not materialise, it was clear to Goh that the federal government was not interested in creating the common market that would realise the import-substitution manufacturing strategy of the EDB. 69

To fight the constant extremist politicking and counter the restrictions imposed by the federal government, the PAP decided to create an opposition front in the Federation. 70 The front would campaign for a &ldquoMalaysian Malaysia&rdquo, which would define the nation-state on a non-communal basis as opposed to the Alliance&rsquos communal, or &ldquoMalay Malaysian&rdquo, approach. 71 To create the bloc, PAP went into discussions with non-Malay parties in the Peninsula, Sarawak and Sabah, resulting in the establishment of the Malaysian Solidarity Convention in May 1965. 72

The convening of the Malaysian Solidarity Convention led to an open confrontation between the PAP and the federal government. 73 Already angered by the criticisms Lee had made in Australia and New Zealand in March 1965 about the sustainability of UMNO&rsquos communal approach to politics, the ruling Alliance perceived the convention as a &ldquonaked attempt&rdquo by Lee to pit Sarawak and Sabah against Kuala Lumpur and seize power for himself. 74

Tensions came to a head when the federal parliament met on 25 May 1965. 75 During the session, leaders from UMNO and its coalition partners launched a series of tirades against Lee. They accused the PAP of being pro-communist and anti-Malay, 76 and said that the PAP&rsquos economic policy was to create a &ldquoChinese hegemony in the economic field&rdquo, thus establishing &ldquoan all-powerful Chinese capitalist class&rdquo against a class of Malay labourers. 77 Lee rejected these claims and highlighted that granting special rights to the Malays or simply having Malay as the national language would not bring the Malays out of poverty. Instead, they needed practical programmes in the fields of agriculture and education. 78

Lee&rsquos speech was &ldquothe straw that broke the camel&rsquos back&rdquo as the Tunku felt that Lee had brought up issues that &ldquodestabilised the equilibrium&rdquo of federal politics. 79 During his trip to London to attend the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in June 1965, the Tunku decided that removing Singapore from the Federation was the only recourse. He communicated this to his deputy, Tun Abdul Razak, who was instructed to sound out the senior Malaysian ministers and lay the groundwork for separation. 80

The separation
The week leading to 9 August 1965 was a busy time for both Singapore and Malaysian leaders as separation had become a certainty. 81 Negotiations were, however, conducted in secrecy. In Singapore, not only were civil servants and permanent secretaries kept in the dark, but some senior PAP cabinet members, most notably Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye and Culture Minister S. Rajaratnam, were also not informed. Leading the negotiations for Singapore was then Finance Minister Goh Keng Swee, and for Malaysia, Tun Razak. 82 Razak was aiming to convene a federal parliament sitting on 9 August and was pushing for the legal paperwork for the release of Singapore to be tabled at that session. 83 In Singapore, Lee asked then Law Minister E. W. Barker to draft the separation agreement at the end of July, along with other legal documents such as the Proclamation of Independence. 84

As the 9 August deadline neared, Goh and Barker made arrangements to travel to Kuala Lumpur to finalise the separation, arriving quietly on 6 August. Lee, who was in Cameron Highlands, left for Kuala Lumpur and also arrived on 6 August to study and approve the separation documents. Thereafter, the separation draft prepared by Barker occupied the attention of five men &ndash Razak, Malaysian Attorney-General Kadir Yusof, Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Ismail bin Dato Abdul Rahman, Barker and Goh. The final version, which included a few amendments and insertions, were typed late that night and signed by Goh, Barker, Razak, Ismail, Malaysian Finance Minister Tan Siew Sin and Malaysian Minister for Works V. T. Sambanthan well after midnight. 85

After Lee was shown the final signed separation documents by Barker, he asked Toh and Rajaratnam, who were in Singapore, to meet him the following morning. Arriving in Kuala Lumpur separately on 7 August, both Toh and Rajaratnam were particularly distraught when Lee broke the news to them and were not willing to sign the agreement. 86 However, a letter from the Tunku to Toh stressing his irrevocable decision &ndash that there was &ldquoabsolutely no other way out&rdquo &ndash left them with no choice. 87 Realising that their persistence to pursue the status quo could mean bloodshed, both Toh and Rajaratnam reluctantly signed. 88

Lee returned to Singapore on 8 August to get the separation agreement signed by the rest of his cabinet members. Two other individuals assisted with the task of meeting the 9 August deadline: Police Commissioner John Le Cain, to ensure law and order, and head of the Singapore Civil Service Stanley Stewart, to prepare and print the special gazette and Proclamation of Independence notices. 89 The Government Printing Office (GPO) had to recall its staff overnight and, to keep the lid on the separation, Stewart locked the GPO. 90 Encoded messages on the separation were also dispatched to British, Australian and New Zealand prime ministers. 91

On 8 August in Kuala Lumpur, things also moved swiftly as Razak had to ensure that everything was ready for the Tunku&rsquos address to the federal parliament the following day. He would move a bill to amend the constitution that would provide for Singapore&rsquos departure from the Federation. Razak was also waiting for the fully signed separation agreement from Singapore to dispel notions that Singapore had been expelled from Malaysia. Hence, he only shared the purpose of the 9 August parliament session with the chief ministers, mentri besars and state rulers in the Federation after he received the agreement bearing the signatures of the entire Singapore cabinet. 92

The birth of Singapore
The proclamation declaring Singapore&rsquos independence was announced on Radio Singapore at 10 am on 9 August 1965. 93 The Tunku simultaneously announced the separation to the federal parliament in Kuala Lumpur. He then moved a resolution to enact the Constitution of Malaysia (Singapore Amendment) Bill, 1965, that would allow Singapore to leave Malaysia and become an independent and sovereign state. The bill was passed with a 126-0 vote and given the royal assent by the end of the day. 94 The press conference called by Lee at 4.30 pm was broadcast on Singapore television. 95 During the press conference, Lee explained why the separation had been inevitable despite his long-standing belief in the merger, and called on the people to remain resolute and calm. Filled with emotion, his eyes brimming with tears, Singaporeans caught a glimpse of Lee&rsquos &ldquomoment of anguish&rdquo. 96

Many rallied behind the news of the separation with relief although the manner of its announcement came as a shock and was initially greeted with disappointment and regret. 97

After Singapore became independent, Malaysia, together with the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, was among the first nations to recognise its sovereignty. Malaysia also sponsored Singapore&rsquos membership in the United Nations and the Commonwealth. 98

Author
Lim Tin Seng

References
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68. Lee, K. Y. (2000). The Singapore story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 600. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 LEE-[HIS])
69. Lee, K. Y. (2000). The Singapore story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Times Editions, pp. 600&ndash601. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 LEE-[HIS])
70. Kwa, C. G., et al. (2009). Singapore, a 700-year history: From early emporium to world city. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore, p. 179. (Call no.: RSING 959.5703 KWA-[HIS]) Lau, A. (2003). A moment of anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the politics of disengagement. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, pp. 227­&ndash241. (Call no.: RSING 959.5705 LAU-[HIS])
71. Kwa, C. G., et al. (2009). Singapore, a 700-year history: From early emporium to world city. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore, pp. 179&ndash180. (Call no.: RSING 959.5703 KWA-[HIS])
72. Kwa, C. G., et al. (2009). Singapore, a 700-year history: From early emporium to world city. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore, pp. 179&ndash180. (Call no.: RSING 959.5703 KWA-[HIS]) Lau, A. (2003). A moment of anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the politics of disengagement. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, pp. 227&ndash241. (Call no.: RSING 959.5705 LAU-[HIS])
73. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 292. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)
74. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 292. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)
75. Kwa, C. G., et al. (2009). Singapore, a 700-year history: From early emporium to world city. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore, p. 180. (Call no.: RSING 959.5703 KWA-[HIS])
76. Malaysia. Dewan Rakyat. Debates: Official report. (1965, May 26). The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong&rsquos Speech (Vol. 1). Kuala Lumpur: [s.n.], col. 80. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.595 MAL)
77. Malaysia. Dewan Rakyat. Debates: Official report. (1965, May 26). The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong&rsquos Speech (Vol. 1). Kuala Lumpur: [s.n.], col. 81. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.595 MAL)
78. Malaysia. Dewan Rakyat. Debates: Official report. (1965, May 27). The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong&rsquos Speech (Vol. 2). Kuala Lumpur: [s.n.], cols. 553&ndash557. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.595 MAL)
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82. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 293&ndash294. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)
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84. Abisheganadan, F. (1965, August 10). Singapore is out. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG Lee, K. Y. (2000). The Singapore story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Times Editions, pp. 631&ndash632. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 LEE-[HIS])
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86. Lee, K. Y. (2000). The Singapore story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Times Editions, pp. 638&ndash644. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 LEE-[HIS])
87. Singapore: An illustrated history, 1941&ndash1984. (1984). Singapore: Information Division, Ministry of Culture, p. 287&ndash289. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]) Fong, L. (1990, August 9). The week before separation. The Straits Times, p. 5 (ST Special). Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
88. Fong, L. (1990, August 9). The week before separation. The Straits Times, p. 5 (ST Special). Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
89. Fong, L. (1990, August 9). The week before separation. The Straits Times, p. 5 (ST Special). Retrieved from NewspaperSG Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 295. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)
90. S'pore and Malaysia part ways. (1999, December 31). The Straits Times, p. 3 Fong, L. (1990, August 9). The week before separation. The Straits Times, pp. 5-15 (ST Special). Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
91. S'pore and Malaysia part ways. (1999, December 31). The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 295. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)
92. Fong, L. (1990, August 9). The week before separation. The Straits Times, pp. 5&ndash15 (ST Special). Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
93. Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 295. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)
94. Lee, K. Y. (2000). The Singapore story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Times Editions, pp. 648&ndash649. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 LEE-[HIS]) Turnbull, C. M. (2009). A history of modern Singapore, 1819&ndash2005. Singapore: NUS Press, p. 295. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)
95. Abisheganadan, F. (1965, August 10). Singapore is out. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG S'pore and Malaysia part ways. (1999, December 31). The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG Lee, K. Y. (2000). The Singapore story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Times Editions, pp. 648&ndash649. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 LEE-[HIS])
96. Singapore: An illustrated history, 1941&ndash1984. (1984). Singapore: Information Division, Ministry of Culture, p. 289&ndash291. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
97. The hearts are together. (1965, August 15). The Straits Times, p. 6 Foes and friends. (1965, August 11). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
98. Abisheganadan, F. (1965, August 10). Singapore is out. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Further resources
Abdul Rahman, T. P. A. (1977). Looking back: Monday musings and memories. Kuala Lumpur: Pustaka Antara.
(Call No.: RSING 959.5 ABD)

Drysdale. (1984). Singapore: Struggle for success. Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call No.: RSING 959.57 DRY)

Fletcher, N. (1969). The separation of Singapore from Malaysia. Ithaca, N.Y., Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University.
(Call No.: RCLOS 959.5707 FLE)

Leifer, M. (1965, September). Singapore in Malaysia: The politics of federation. Journal of Southeast Asian History, 6(2), 54&ndash70. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB&rsquos eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg

Lian, P. C. (1969, March). The People&rsquos Action Party, 1954&ndash1963. Journal of Southeast Asian History, 10(1), 142&ndash154. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB&rsquos eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg

Josey, A. (1980). Lee Kuan Yew: The crucial years. Singapore: Times Book International.
(Call No.: RSING 959.57092 JOS)

Sadka, E. (1962, January). Singapore and the Federation: Problems of merger. Asian Survey, 1(11),17&ndash25. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB&rsquos eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg

Sadka, E. (1963). Malaysia: The political background. In T. H. Silcock & E. K. Fisk, eds., The political economy of independent Malaya: A case study in development (pp. 28&ndash58). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
(Call no.: RCLOS 330.9595 SIL)

Silcock, T. E. (1960, March). Singapore in Malaya. Far Eastern Survey, 29(3), 33&ndash39. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB&rsquos eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg

The information in this article is valid as at August 2019 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Award-winning streaming service of full-length docs for the likes of history buffs, royal watchers, cinema aficionados & train enthusiasts. Visit britishpathe.tv British Pathé now represents the Reuters historical collection, which includes more than 136,000 items from 1910 to 1984. Start exploring!

Malaysia election: timeline of politics and protest

Malaysia has had a turbulent history since gaining independence from Britain in 1957.

1957: Country gains independence from Great Britain. The full name for the new state is “The Federation of Malaya” under the leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman as Prime Minister.

1963: Former colonies of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore join together with Malaya to form the wider Federation of Malaysia.

1965: Singapore withdraws from the Federation with Malaysia while a communist insurgency breaks out in Sarawak state.

1969: Race riots sparked by resentment toward ethnic Chinese economic success results in the deaths of hundreds. The capital city, Kuala Lumpur is severely affected and encounters some of the worst of violence.

1981: Dr Mahathir Mohamad becomes Prime Minister, presiding over an economy achieving high growth rates of at least eight percent a year.

1990: Sarawak communists sue for peace with Malaysian government.

1993: Malaysia’s Sultans, who function as the country’s Monarchy and Heads of State, surrender their privilege of legal immunity.

1997: Asian financial crisis hits Malaysia hard, ending a period of buoyant economic growth.

1998: Dr Mahathir fires Anwar Ibrahim as his deputy and has him arrested for corruption and sexual misconduct charges including sodomy - a crime in Malaysia.

2000: Mr Anwar is found guilty and sentenced to nine years in a court decision widely seen in Malaysia and the international community as unfair and politically motivated.

2001: Serious racial tensions between Malays and ethnic Indians lead to the worst violence between the groups in years.

2002: Mass out-migration of foreign workers in response to new government legislation which provides for whipping and extended prison terms for minor offences by immigrants.

2003: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi replaces Dr Mahathir as Prime Minister in the first leadership transition in 22 years.

2004: After Prime Miniser Abdullah wins a major landslide election victory, Mr Anwar is released from prison and his sodomy conviction is repealed. Large numbers of Malaysian citizens caught up in the Asian tsunami disaster, government postpones mass deportations of Indonesians illegally residing in the country.

2008: Mr Abdullah’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition loses its two-thirds majority in Parliament suffering its worst election defeat in years against a resurgent opposition led by Mr Anwar.

2009: Mr Abdullah decides to hand in his resignation as Prime Minister. Establishment favourite, Najib Razak takes over the reigns of power.

2010: Landmark court ruling states that the country’s non-Muslim minorities may use the word “Allah” when referring to God. Mobs go on the rampage attacking churches in response.

2011: Thousands take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to rally for electoral reform. Police come under criticism for employing heavy-handed tactics including the use of tear gas and water canons to disperse protestors.

2012 (January): High Court exonerates Mr Anwar of the second batch of his sodomy charges.

2012 (June): Iranian national, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh is extradited by a Malaysian court to Thailand for his alleged involvement in a bomb plot targeting Israeli officials.

2013 (March): Malaysian forces attack Filipino separatist militias in Borneo after violence between local groups leaves about 30 people dead.

2013 (April): Mr Najib formally dissolves parliament marking the start of the country’s General Election campaign.

2013 (May 5): Malaysians head to the polls in what many analysts see as a landmark election between the incumbent, Najib Razak of Barisan Nasional against veteran opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim.


Contents

Delimited boundary Edit

A large extent of the Malaysia–Singapore border is defined by the Agreement between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the Republic of Singapore to delimit precisely the territorial waters boundary in accordance with the Straits Settlement and Johore Territorial Waters Agreement 1927 as being straight lines joining a series of 72 geographical coordinates roughly running about 50 nautical miles (93 km) along the deepest channel (thalweg) between the western and eastern entrances of the Straits of Johor. This delineation was arrived at and agreed to jointly by the two governments and resulted in the agreement being signed on 7 August 1995. [3]

The coordinates, which are stated in Annex 1 of the agreement, are listed below. The datum used is the Revised Kertau Datum, Everest Spheroid (Malaya), Malaysian Rectified Skew Orthomorphic Projection.

Point Latitude Longitude Point Latitude Longitude Point Latitude Longitude
East of Johor–Singapore Causeway
E1 01° 27' 10.0" 103° 46' 16.0" E17 01° 25' 49.5" 103° 56' 00.3" E33 01° 26' 38.0" 104° 02' 27.0"
E2 01° 27' 54.5" 103° 47' 25.7" E18 01° 25' 49.7" 103° 56' 15.7" E34 01° 26' 23.5" 104° 03' 26.9"
E3 01° 28' 35.4" 103° 48' 13.2" E19 01° 25' 40.2" 103° 56' 33.1" E35 01° 26' 04.7" 104° 04' 16.3"
E4 01° 28' 42.5" 103° 48' 45.6" E20 01° 25' 31.3" 103° 57' 09.1" E36 01° 25' 51.3" 104° 04' 35.3"
E5 01° 28' 36.1" 103° 49' 19.8" E21 01° 25' 27.9" 103° 57' 27.2" E37 01° 25' 03.3" 104° 05' 18.5"
E6 01° 28' 22.8" 103° 50' 03.0" E22 01° 25' 29.1" 103° 57' 38.4" E38 01° 24' 55.8" 104° 05' 22.6"
E7 01° 27' 58.2" 103° 51' 07.2" E23 01° 25' 19.8" 103° 58' 00.5" E39 01° 24' 44.8" 104° 05' 26.7"
E8 01° 27' 46.6" 103° 51' 31.2" E24 01° 25' 19.0" 103° 58' 20.7" E40 01° 24' 21.4" 104° 05' 33.6"
E9 01° 27' 31.9" 103° 51' 53.9" E25 01° 25' 27.9" 103° 58' 47.7" E41 01° 23' 59.3" 104° 05' 34.9"
E10 01° 27' 23.5" 103° 52' 05.4" E26 01° 25' 27.4" 103° 59' 00.9" E42 01° 23' 39.3" 104° 05' 32.9"
E11 01° 26' 56.3" 103° 52' 30.1" E27 01° 25' 29.7" 103° 59' 10.2" E43 01° 23' 04.9" 104° 05' 22.4"
E12 01° 26' 06.5" 103° 53' 10.1" E28 01° 25' 29.2" 103° 59' 20.5" E44 01° 22' 07.5" 104° 05' 00.9"
E13 01° 25' 40.6" 103° 53' 52.3" E29 01° 25' 30.0" 103° 59' 34.5" E45 01° 21' 27.0" 104° 04' 47.0"
E14 01° 25' 39.1" 103° 54' 45.9" E30 01° 25' 25.3" 103° 59' 42.9" E46 01° 20' 48.0" 104° 05' 07.0"
E15 01° 25' 36.0" 103° 55' 00.6" E31 01° 25' 14.2" 104° 00' 10.3" E47 01° 17' 21.3" 104° 07' 34.0"
E16 01° 25' 41.7" 103° 55' 24.0" E32 01° 26' 20.9" 104° 01' 23.9"
West of Johor–Singapore Causeway
W1 01° 27' 09.8" 103° 46' 15.7" W10 01° 26' 14.1" 103° 41' 00.0" W19 01° 21' 26.6" 103° 38' 15.5"
W2 01° 26' 54.2" 103° 45' 38.5" W11 01° 25' 41.3" 103° 40' 26.0" W20 01° 21' 07.3" 103° 38' 08.0"
W3 01° 27' 01.4" 103° 44' 48.4" W12 01° 24' 56.7" 103° 40' 10.0" W21 01° 20' 27.8" 103° 37' 48.2"
W4 01° 27' 16.6" 103° 44' 23.3" W13 01° 24' 37.7" 103° 39' 50.1" W22 01° 19' 17.8" 103° 37' 04.2"
W5 01° 27' 36.5" 103° 43' 42.0" W14 01° 24' 01.5" 103° 39' 25.8" W23 01° 18' 55.5" 103° 37' 01.5"
W6 01° 27' 26.9" 103° 42' 50.8" W15 01° 23' 28.6" 103° 39' 12.6" W24 01° 18' 51.5" 103° 36' 58.2"
W7 01° 27' 02.8" 103° 42' 13.5" W16 01° 23' 13.5" 103° 39' 10.7" W25 01° 15' 51.0" 103° 36' 10.3"
W8 01° 26' 35.9" 103° 41' 55.9" W17 01° 22' 47.7" 103° 38' 57.1"
W9 01° 26' 23.6" 103° 41' 38.6" W18 01° 21' 46.7" 103° 38' 27.2"

The Straits Settlement and Johore Territorial Waters Agreement of 1927 signed between the Britain and the Sultanate of Johor on 19 October 1927, defines the territorial sea border between Malaysia and Singapore as:

". an imaginary line following the centre of the deep-water channel in Johore Strait, between the mainland of the State and Territory of Johore on the one side, and the northern shores of the islands of Singapore, Pulau Ubin, Pulau Tekong Kechil, and Pulau Tekong Besar on the other side. Where, if at all, the channel divides into two portions of equal depth running side by side, the boundary shall run midway between these two portions. At the western entrance of Johore Strait, the boundary, after passing through the centre of the deep-water channel eastward of Pulau Merambong, shall proceed seaward, in the general direction of the axis of this channel produced, until it intersects the 3-mile (4.8 km) limit drawn from the low water mark of the south coast of Pulau Merambong. At the Eastern entrance of Johore Strait, the boundary shall be held to pass through the centre of the deep-water channel between the mainland of Johore, westward of Johore Hill, and Pulau Tekong Besar, next through the centre of the deep-water channel between Johore Shoal and the mainland of Johore, southward of Johore Hill, and finally turning southward, to intersect the 3-mile (4.8 km) limit drawn from the low water mark of the mainland of Johore in a position bearing 192 degrees from Tanjong Sitapa." [4]

The boundary drawn by the 1995 agreement follows closely but, by virtue of being straight lines between points, does not exactly correspond with the deepest channel of the Straits of Johor as described in the 1927 agreement. As the 1995 agreement supersedes the 1927 agreement as far as any inconsistency goes, the thalweg method of determining the precise borderline is therefore replaced with the use of geographical coordinates. The 1995 agreement also states that the border will be final and, therefore, not be influenced by any variation of the depth or alignment of the deepest channel of the Straits of Johor. This is important considering frequent reclamation activities by both Malaysia and Singapore in the Straits of Johor which could alter the depth of the waterway.

Undetermined boundaries Edit

The border outside the points agreed to in the 1995 agreement has not been determined and is subject to some level of contention. In 1979, Malaysia published a map [5] unilaterally defining its territorial waters and continental shelf, and "picks up" from where the 1927 agreement left off as far as the Malaysia–Singapore border is concerned. In 2018, Malaysia published in its Federal Government Gazette changes to the Johor Bahru port limits that extrapolated from the 1995 territorial waters agreement. Malaysia's Marine Department further issued a Notice to Mariners detailing the changes in the port limits. The unilateral move drew a strong protest from Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) who asked the mariners to ignore that notice. [6] Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) added in a statement that Malaysia was "encroaching into Singapore's territorial waters off Tuas". [7]

According to the 1979 map, on the western entrance to the Straits of Johor, the border starts at "Point 21", which lies near the western terminus of the border as defined by the 1927 agreement and the terminus of the border agreed to in the 1995 agreement (known as Point W25). The Malaysian border then extends southwards until "Point 17" where it then goes northeasterly till it meets the southern terminus of the Indonesia-Malaysia border delimited by the Indonesia-Malaysia continental shelf boundary agreement of 1969 and the Indonesia-Malaysia territorial waters agreement of 1971. The border between Malaysia and Singapore only runs between "Point 21" and "Point 15" where it should intersect the Indonesia-Singapore maritime border. The meeting point of the maritime territories between the three countries has not been determined.

Point Longitude (E) Latitude (N) Remarks
Turning points along the continuation of Malaysia's maritime border to the west of Singapore as in its 1979 map
15 103° 22'.8 1° 15'.0 Same as Point 10 (southern terminus) of the continental shelf boundary and Point 8 of the territorial sea boundary
16 103° 26'.8 1° 13'.45 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
17 103° 32'.5 1° 1'.45 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
18 103° 34'.2 1° 11'.0 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
19 103° 34'.95 1° 15'.15
20 103° 37'.38 1° 16'.37
21 103° 36'.1 1° 15'.85 This point lies close but does not correspond with Point W25 of the 1995 territorial waters agreement

The eastern continuation of the territorial waters border defined by the 1979 Malaysian map starts near the eastern terminus of the 1927 agreement border at "Point 22", whereby it goes westwards towards Singapore to "Point 23" before travelling southeasterly towards its southmost point at "Point 27". It then continues in a general easterly direction to meet the southern terminus of the Indonesia-Malaysia border as defined by their continental shelf boundary agreement of 1969. The Indonesia-Singapore border should intersect this boundary at some point but the meeting point of the maritime territories of the three countries has not been determined.

Point Longitude (E) Latitude (N) Remarks
Turning point coordinates along the continuation of Malaysia's maritime border to the east of Singapore as in its 1979 map
22 104° 7'.5 1° 17'.63 This point lies close but does not correspond with Point E47 of the 1995 territorial waters agreement
23 104° 2'.5 1° 17'.42 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
24 104° 4'.6 1° 17'.3 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
25 104° 7'.1 1° 16'.2 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
26 104° 7'.42 1° 15'.65 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
27 104° 12'.67 1° 13'.65 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
28 104° 16'.15 1° 16'.2 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
29 104° 19'.8 1° 16'.5 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
30 104° 29'.45 1° 15'.55 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
31 104° 29'.33 1° 16'.95 This turning point may form part of the Indonesia-Malaysia border
32 104° 29'.5 1° 23'.9 This point is the same as Point 11 (southern terminus) of the 1969 Indonesia-Malaysia continental shelf boundary

Malaysia's maritime boundary in its 1979 map is not recognised by Singapore [8] and Singapore disputes many parts of the territorial sea and continental shelf claimed by Malaysia. Among them is a slice of territorial waters called the "Point 20 sliver" (see below), and previously, the sovereignty of Pulau Batu Puteh/Pedra Branca which lies within the 12-nautical-mile (22 km) territorial waters claimed by Malaysia but has since been decided by the International Court of Justice in Singapore's favour.

With the award to Singapore of the sovereignty of the island, further determination of the maritime boundary between the two countries as well as with Indonesia whose territorial waters are also in the area, would have to be done to fill in the various gaps and determine the tripoints.

The area around Pedra Branca is expected to be complicated. Pedra Branca lies beyond the three nautical mile (6 km) zone claimed by Singapore but within the 12-nautical-mile (22 km) zone claimed by Malaysia. Singapore has indicated that the Indonesia-Singapore and Malaysia–Singapore borders in this area would not run continuously from the waters adjacent to the main Singapore island to the Pedra Branca area and a stretch of the Indonesia-Malaysia border would lie in between. [9] Further complications could arise by the awarding of Middle Rocks, which lies 0.6 nautical miles (1.5 km) south of Pedra Branca (i.e. away from the Johor coast), to Malaysia. A joint technical committee has been formed to determine the maritime border. [10]

The border between Malaysia and Singapore only came into existence in the 19th century with the establishment and subsequently, cession of the island to the British East India Company by the Sultanate of Johor in 1824. Prior to that, Singapore was an integral part of the Johor Sultanate and subsequently, the Johor-Riau Sultanate.

The border changed from being an international border to a sub-national boundary (boundary of a division within a country) and vice versa several times. It became an international border after the cession of Singapore to the East India Company by Johor in 1824 as Johor was de jure a sovereign state. In 1914, the border became that of between two British-ruled territories when Johor became a British protectorate while Singapore remained a British crown colony.

On 31 August 1957, the Federation of Malaya (which consisted of only Peninsular Malaysia), which included Johor as a component state, became independent and the Johor–Singapore border again became an international boundary between the sovereign state of Malaya and the self-governing British territory of Singapore. On 16 September 1963, Singapore merged with and become a component state of Malaysia, rendering the border between two component states of Malaysia. The border again became an international border when Singapore was expelled from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, subsequently becoming independent, sovereign nation.

2020 Malaysia movement control order Edit

On 16 March 2020, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on television that Malaysia would implement a Movement Control Order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in what was described as Malaysia Partial Lockdown and Malaysia Lockdown in local and international media. [11] This was in response to increasing COVID-19 cases in Malaysia.

On 17 March 2020, the Causeway was facing immense jams due to the movement control order, therefore after this date, movement is currently restricted permanently between Singapore and Malaysia as cases in Malaysia continues to be high. There are no plans to reopen the border fully. [12] However, the flow of cargo, goods and food supplies will carry on as per normal. [13]

The Malaysian and Singaporean governments have been involved in a range of disputes and disagreements which had tested the bilateral relations between the two countries. Most of these, including that over Keretapi Tanah Melayu, or Malayan Railway, land in Singapore, are not territorial or border disputes as they do not involve questions of sovereignty over territory or territorial waters.

There have, however, been two disputes concerning sovereignty of territory along the Malaysia–Singapore border. The more well-known one is that over Pedra Branca, which the International Court of Justice decided in Singapore's favour on 23 May 2008. Another case arose from a "complaint" by Malaysia over reclamation carried out by Singapore at territorial waters adjacent to the border with Malaysia. The dispute was submitted to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg by Malaysia on 4 September 2003.

Sovereignty of Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh Edit

Pedra Branca (as the island is known in Singapore) or Pulau Batu Puteh (as it is known in Malaysia) is an island located at the eastern entrance to the Singapore Straits to the southeast of the southeastern tip of Johor, Malaysia. Together with two other marine features called Middle Rocks and South Ledge, they were subject to a sovereignty dispute between Malaysia and Singapore.

On 23 May 2008, the International Court of Justice decided that Singapore had sovereignty over Pedra Branca while Malaysia had sovereignty over Middle Rocks. It left the question of sovereignty over South Ledge, which only appears during low tide, to be determined later by stating that its sovereignty would depend on whose territorial waters it was located in. The decision settles a long-standing barrier to the negotiation process for the determination of the maritime boundary between the two countries and both Malaysia and Singapore said immediately after the ICJ decision that a joint technical committee would be set up to determine the maritime border in the waters around Pedra Branca.

Malaysia filed a review before the 10 year mark of the award in 2017, the review was subsequently withdrawn in 2018 by the new government putting the matter to rest. [14]

Singaporean land reclamation case Edit

This dispute resulted from Singapore's reclaiming of land in two areas, namely in the southwestern end of the island called the Tuas development, and in the waters adjacent to Pulau Tekong in the Straits of Johor. The latter does not involve any encroachment into the territorial waters of Malaysia, and Malaysia merely argued that the reclamation works would affect the environment of the Straits of Johor as a shared waterway.

The Tuas development, however, can be deemed a case of territorial dispute as Malaysia claims the reclamation works has encroached into its territorial waters in an area called the "Point 20 sliver". [15] The "sliver", regarded as an anomaly by Singapore, arises as a result of the unilateral declaration of Malaysia's territorial waters boundary as defined by a 1979 map published by Malaysia where, between turning points No 19 and No 21, Point 20 strikes out to the east of the general continental shelf boundary towards Singapore, thus forming a triangle of Malaysian territorial waters extending eastwards from the general north-south territorial waters boundary. The Tuas development reclamation project encroaches into this sliver of territorial waters. Singapore does not recognise the 1979 continental shelf boundary and, thus, does not recognise the "point 20 sliver" as under Malaysian sovereignty. [16]

In 2003, Malaysia submitted a case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and requested for provisional measures against Singapore's reclamation works, including that concerning Point 20. On 8 October 2003, the tribunal decided that:

Malaysia has not shown that there is a situation of urgency or that there is a risk that its rights with respect to an area of its territorial sea would suffer irreversible damage pending consideration of the merits of the case by the arbitral tribunal. Therefore, the Tribunal does not consider it appropriate to prescribe provisional measures with respect to the land reclamation by Singapore in the sector of Tuas. [17]

The other parts of the order covered the issue of land reclamation around Pulau Tekong, whereby the tribunal ordered the two countries to jointly establish a group of independent experts to come up with a report "within a period not exceeding one year from the date of this Order, the effects of Singapore’s land reclamation and to propose, as appropriate, measures to deal with any adverse effects of such land reclamation." [18]

After a 13-month study, the group of experts reported that of 57 impacts identified, 40 could only be detected in a computer model but not likely to be detectable out in the field, while the remaining 17 impacts could be eliminated via prescribed mitigating measures. [19] Singapore's Agent Professor Tommy Koh said, "The happy news, of course, is that the two delegations were able to agree on the appropriate way in which these recommendations would be implemented", which allowed both countries to come to an amicable solution which resulted in the termination of the arbitration proceedings. The Settlement Agreement was signed by both countries on 26 April 2005.

As for the Point 20 issue, which was not specifically touched on by the group of experts as it concerned the issue of delimitation of the Malaysia-Singapore maritime boundary, the two countries reached an agreement not to deal with the issue in this negotiation.

"We both agreed that this will be taken up subsequently, in other negotiations. In the meantime, both sides recognise that neither side has given up any rights they have under international law or their right to resort to other peaceful means of settling this outstanding dispute." [19]

More than 450,000 people cross the Malaysia–Singapore border everyday, [20] using the two land crossings across the Straits of Johor. This makes it one of the busiest land borders in the world. [21]

to the north of Singapore, the busiest border checkpoint in the world with 350,000 travellers daily. [22] [23]

to the west of Singapore, known officially as Tuas Second Link in Singapore or Linkedua in Malaysia.

Johor–Singapore Causeway Edit

The Johor–Singapore Causeway is most used link between the two countries. It supports road and railway. It is the oldest physical link between the countries and was completed in 1923. Checkpoints for identity card checks were set up in 1966. Passport checks began in 1967. [24]

There are different checkpoints for road and rail travellers respectively. Road travellers are processed at the Sultan Iskandar Complex on the Malaysian side, and Woodlands Checkpoint on the Singaporean side. Both immigration checkpoints replaced older facilities the current Woodlands Checkpoint started operations in 1998, while the Sultan Iskandar Complex opened in 2008.

Railway crossing Edit

The Malaysian railway operator, Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM), runs intercity railway services that extends to Singapore. Rail travellers are processed at the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP), which is separated from the Woodlands Checkpoint used by road travellers. Since 1 July 2011, WTCP was the southern terminus of the KTM rail network and the checkpoint houses both Malaysian and Singaporean border control facilities.

For decades, Tanjong Pagar railway station in downtown Singapore served as the southern terminus of the KTM rail network, with the railway land and the station under Malaysian ownership. Before 1998, both Malaysian and Singaporean border control facilities were co-located at the station. In 1998, Singapore opened the Woodlands Train Checkpoint and moved its immigration post there, the official reason being improving border security. However, Malaysia refused to move its immigration post to the WTCP or Johor Bahru, citing the move as a ploy to force Malaysia to hand over the railway land and the station as per the Malaysia–Singapore Points of Agreement of 1990, which the two countries interpret differently. Between 1998 and 2011, the border clearance for passengers travelling towards Malaysia was an anomaly, as they were granted entry to Malaysia at Tanjong Pagar railway station before passing through Singapore exit controls at WTCP. Passengers travelling to Singapore were not affected as they were already cleared by Malaysian authorities at Johor Bahru railway station before Singapore border control at WTCP. The dispute was resolved in 2010, with Malaysia relocating its immigration post to WTCP and handing over the railway land and also Tanjong Pagar railway station on 1 July 2011, in exchange for joint development of prime land in Singapore.

Malaysia–Singapore Second Link Edit

The Second Link as the name suggests is the second road border crossing between the two countries. It connects Tuas on the Singapore side to Tanjung Kupang on the Malaysia side. It was completed and opened to traffic on 2 January 1998. The checkpoints are:

Changi Point-Pengerang sea crossing Edit

There is also a sea crossing between Malaysia and Singapore between Pengerang in the southeastern tip of Johor and Changi Point near Changi Village in the northeastern tip of Singapore. The Singapore immigration post in Changi Point was set up in November 1967. [25]


Know your Minimum Asian History

I complied this recently (from various sources) for a strategic planning exercise:

1788 – British Navy captain Arthur Phillip founds a penal settlement at Sydney. He had arrived with a fleet of 11 vessels, carrying nearly 800 convicts. The Aboriginal population numbers several hundred thousand.

1819 – Sir Stamford Raffles of British East India Company establishes trading post on Singapore island.

1826 – British settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singapore combine to form the Colony of Straits Settlements, from where the British extend their influence by establishing protectorates over the Malay sultanates of the peninsula.

1826 – Singapore, Malacca and Penang become British colony of the Straits Settlements.

1832 – Singapore becomes capital of Straits Settlements. The port attracts thousands of migrants from China, India and other parts of Asia.

1850s – Australia: Gold is found at several locations leading to gold rushes throughout the decade. The population increases three-fold in 10 years to pass the million mark. An influx of Chinese leads to restrictions on their entry. Aborigines are treated very badly and their numbers collapse.

1856 – Australia becomes the first country to introduce the secret ballot – or ‘Australian ballot’ – for elections.

1858 – India comes under direct rule of the British crown after failed Indian mutiny.

1867 – Straits Settlements become crown colony of British Empire.

1869 – Suez Canal opens, trade in Asia booms.

1894 – Japan goes to war with China. Japan’s better equipped forces win victory in just nine months.

1895 – China cedes Taiwan to Japan and permits Japan to trade in China.

1901 – The country is unified. The Commonwealth of Australia comes into being on 1st January.

1904 – Japan goes to war with Russia. Japanese victory in 1905.

1910 – Japan annexes Korea after three years of fighting. Japan is now one of the world’s great powers.

1911 – Canberra is founded and designated as the capital.

1914 – Japan joins World War I on the side of Britain and her allies. Japan has limited participation.

1914 – Outbreak of World War I. Australia commits hundreds of thousands of troops to the British war effort. Their participation – alongside New Zealanders – in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey in 1915 leads to heavy casualties. The Gallipoli landings help cement a sense of identity in the young nation.

1920s – Extreme nationalism begins to take hold in Japan. The emphasis is on a preservation of traditional Japanese values, and a rejection of “Western” influence.

1922 – Singapore becomes main British naval base in East Asia.

1923 – Earthquake in Tokyo region kills more than 100,000 people.

1929 – The Great Depression following the Wall Street Crash hits Australia hard. Recovery is uneven, and the Labor government is defeated in the election in 1931.

1931 – Japan invades Manchuria, renames it and installs a puppet regime.

1937 – Japan goes to war with China. By the end of the year, Japan has captured Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing. Japanese forces commit atrocities, including the “Rape of Nanjing”, in which up to 300,000 Chinese civilians are said to have been killed.

1939 – Australia follows Britain’s lead and declares war on Nazi Germany.

1939 – Outbreak of World War II in Europe. With the fall of France to Nazi Germany in 1940, Japan moves to occupy French Indo-China.

1941 – Japan launches a surprise attack on the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Twelve ships are sunk, with a further 9 damaged nearly 2,500 people are killed. The US and its main allies declare war on Japan the following day.

1941 – The US declares war on Japan. Australia turns to the US for help in its defence after the Japanese take Singapore. Australia allows the US to base its supreme command for the Pacific war on its territory.

1941 – World War II. Japan bombs Singapore.

1942 – Japan occupies a succession of countries, including the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Burma and Malaya. In June, US aircraft carriers defeat the Japanese at the Battle of Midway.

1942 – Singapore falls to Japan, which renames it Syonan (Light of the South).

1942-45 – Japanese occupation of Malaya.

1945 – Japan defeated. Singapore under British military administration.

1945 – US planes drop two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima (6 August), the second on Nagasaki (9 August). Emperor Hirohito surrenders and relinquishes his divine status. Japan is placed under US military government. All Japanese military and naval forces are disbanded.

1946 – Singapore becomes separate crown colony.

1947 – A new constitution comes into force. It establishes a parliamentary system, with all adults eligible to vote. Japan renounces war and pledges not to maintain land, sea or air forces for that purpose. The emperor is granted ceremonial status.

1947 – End of British rule and partition of sub-continent into mainly Hindu India and Muslim-majority state of Pakistan.

1948 – Australia begins a scheme for immigration from Europe. Over the next 30 years, more than two million people arrive, about one-third of them from Britain.

1948 – British-ruled Malayan territories unified under Federation of Malaya.

1948 – Mahatma Gandhi assassinated by Hindu extremist.

1949 – 1 October – Mao Zedong, having led the Communists to victory against the Nationalists after more than 20 years of civil war, proclaims the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The Nationalists retreat to the island of Taiwan and set up a government there.

1956 – Japan joins United Nations.

1956 – Olympic Games held in Melbourne.

1957 – Federation of Malaya becomes independent from Britain with Tunku Abdul Rahman as prime minister.

1958 – Mao launches the “Great Leap Forward”, a five-year economic plan. Farming is collectivised and labour-intensive industry is introduced. The drive produces economic breakdown and is abandoned after two years. Disruption to agriculture is blamed for the deaths by starvation of millions of people following poor harvests.

1959 – Self-government attained with Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister.

1963 – British colonies of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore join Federation of Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia.

1963 – Singapore joins the Federation of Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia.

1964 – Olympic Games held in Tokyo.

1965 – Singapore pulls out of the Federation of Malaysia, at Malaysia’s invitation, amid political and ethnic tensions. The territory becomes an independent republic and joins the United Nations.

1965 – Singapore withdraws from Malaysia, which is reduced to 13 states communist insurgency begins in Sarawak.

1966-76 – Chinese “Cultural Revolution”, Mao’s 10-year political and ideological campaign aimed at

1967 – Singapore founder member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

1969 – Malaysia: Malays stage anti-Chinese riots in the context of increasing frustration over the economic success of the ethnic Chinese.

1975 – Australia introduces new immigration laws, restricting the number of unskilled workers allowed into the country.

1976 – Mao dies. “Gang of Four”, including Mao’s widow, jockey for power but are arrested and convicted of crimes against the state. From 1977 Deng Xiaoping emerges as the dominant figure among pragmatists in the leadership. Under him, China undertakes far-reaching economic reforms.

1979 – Chinese Government imposes one-child policy in effort to curb population growth.

1982 – Japanese car firm Honda opens its first plant in the US.

1984 December – Gas leak at Union Carbide pesticides plant in Bhopal, India. Thousands are killed immediately many more subsequently die or are left disabled.

1989 – Stockmarkets open in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

1989 – Chinese Troops open fire on demonstrators who have camped for weeks in Tiananmen Square initially to demand the posthumous rehabilitation of former CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang, who was forced to resign in 1987. The official death toll is 200. International outrage leads to sanctions.

1992 – The Citizenship Act is amended to remove swearing an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. Prime Minister Paul Keating’s Labor government pledges to make Australia a republic and to concentrate on links with Asia.

1992 – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks China’s economy as third largest in the world after the US and Japan.

1995 January – An earthquake hits central Japan, killing thousands and causing widespread damage. The city of Kobe is hardest hit.

1997 – Asian financial crisis spells end of decade of impressive economic growth.

1997 – Hong Kong reverts from British to Chinese control.

1997 – The Japanese economy enters a severe recession.

1998 – Singapore slips into recession for the first time in 13 years during Asian financial crisis.

1999 – Macao reverts from Portuguese to Chinese rule.

2000 – Australia hosts the Olympic Games in Sydney, the most popular ever.

2000 May – India marks the birth of its billionth citizen.

2001 February – Malaysian Government decides to proceed with construction of huge Bakun hydroelectric power project on island of Borneo despite serious environmental concerns.

2001 January – A pipeline feeding gas to Singapore from Indonesia’s Natuna field in the South China Sea opens.

2001 January – Australia celebrates 100 years since its inauguration as the Commonwealth of Australia.

2001 January – Massive earthquakes hit the western state of Gujarat, India, leaving at least 30,000 dead.

2001 March – Dozens arrested during Malaysia’s worst ethnic clashes in decades between Malays and ethnic Indians.

2001 November – China joins the World Trade Organisation.

2001 September – Malaysia, Singapore resolve long-standing disputes, ranging from water supplies to air space. They also agree to build a new bridge and tunnel.

2002 January – Japan, Singapore sign free trade agreement.

2002 October – Australia mourns as 88 of its citizens are killed in a night club bombing in Bali, Indonesia, which some call Australia’s September 11.

2003 April – Outbreak of pneumonia-like Sars virus

2003 June – Hong Kong is declared free of Sars. Days later the World Health Organization lifts its Sars-related travel warning for Beijing.

2003 March-April – China and Hong Kong are hit by the pneumonia-like Sars virus, thought to have originated in Guangdong province in November 2002. Strict quarantine measures are enforced to stop the disease spreading.

2003 May – Singapore becomes first Asian nation to sign free-trade deal with US.

2003 October – Launch of China’s first manned spacecraft: Astronaut Yang Liwei is sent into space by a Long March 2F rocket.

2004 December – Scores of people in Malaysia are killed in the Asian tsunami disaster. Malaysia delays planned deportations of many thousands of illegal immigrants, most of them from Indonesia.

2004 December – Thousands are killed when tidal waves, caused by a powerful undersea earthquake off the Indonesian coast, devastate coastal communities in the south and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

2004 November – China signs a landmark trade agreement with 10 south-east Asian countries the accord could eventually unite 25% of the world’s population in a free-trade zone.

2005 October – China conducts its second manned space flight, with two astronauts circling Earth in the Shenzhou VI capsule.

2006 August – Official news agency says 18 million people are affected by what it describes as the country’s worst drought in 50 years.

2006 July – New China-Tibet railway line, the world’s highest train route, begins operating.

2006 May – Work on the structure of the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project, is completed.

2006 November – Government says pollution has degraded China’s environment to a critical level, threatening health and social stability.

2007 October – China launches its first moon orbiter.

2007 October – The world’s largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, flies from Singapore to Sydney on its first commercial flight run by state-controlled Singapore Airlines.

2007 September – A new Roman Catholic bishop of Beijing is consecrated – the first for over 50 years to have the tacit approval of the Pope.

2008 August – Beijing hosts Olympic Games.

2008 May – A massive earthquake hits Sichuan province, killing tens of thousands.

2008 November – Nearly 200 people are killed and hundreds injured in a series of co-ordinated attacks by gunmen on the main tourist and business area of India’s financial capital Mumbai. India blames militants from Pakistan for the attacks and demands that Islamabad take strong action against those responsible.

2008 September – Astronaut Zhai Zhigang completes China’s first spacewalk during the country’s third manned space mission, Shenzhou VII.

2008 September – early 53,000 Chinese children fall ill after drinking tainted milk, leading Premier Wen Jiabao to apologise for the scandal.

2009 July – Leaders of China and Taiwan exchange direct messages for the first time in more than 60 years.

2009 March – China’s central bank calls for new global reserve currency run by International Monetary Fund to replace the US dollar.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
George Santayana Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, (1863-1952)


Singapore, Malaysia Mull Cooperation on Vaccine Certifications

Mutual recognition of the two nations’ COVID-19 vaccine certificates could pave the way for a regional certification process.

The Johor-Singapore Causeway, the busy border crossing between Singapore and Malaysia.

Singapore and Malaysia have announced plans to recognize their respective COVID-19 vaccination certificates, part of a broader Southeast Asian effort to revive travel and business as the pandemic wanes.

The announcement was made on Tuesday, following talks between Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, currently on a diplomatic tour of maritime Southeast Asia, and his Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein.

A statement issued later by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that specific issues – such as the requirements for mutual recognition, health protocols, and application procedures for entry and exit into the two countries – would “be further deliberated and finalized by the two countries.”

The statement also said that the two leaders discussed the political crisis in Myanmar, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s “support for Myanmar’s return to national reconciliation and stability.”

The announcement about vaccine certificates came after the 10-nation ASEAN bloc, of which Singapore and Malaysia are members, pledged to introduce a digital COVID-19 vaccine certificate to help revive the region’s economies. The proposed certificate would resemble the European Union’s embryonic plans for a “digital green pass” that would prove that a traveler has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The Southeast Asian bloc did not put a time frame on the creation of a common vaccine certificate, but as Nikkei Asia notes, “reciprocal recognition by Malaysia and Singapore could be a step toward regional certification.”

Singapore and Malaysia are now well into their COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. Singapore had administered 792,423 doses of vaccine as of March 15 (just over 13 percent of its population) while Malaysia had distributed 452,919 as of March 22 (around 1 percent).

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Separated by the narrow Johor Strait, Malaysia and Singapore have been closely connected economically since the days of British colonial rule, and remained so even after Singapore was ejected from the Malaysian Federation in 1965.

Prior to the pandemic, more than 300,000 Malaysians crossed the Johor-Singapore Causeway each day, making it one of the busiest overland border crossings in Southeast Asia. Like much else, this daily traffic ground to a halt due to COVID-19 year, depriving Malaysians of employment opportunities in Singapore and Singaporean firms of a cheap source of labor.

Southeast Asia, like much of the world, has been hit hard by COVID-19. Every economy in the region bar that of Vietnam contracted in 2020, led by a whopping 9.5 percent drop in the Philippines and 6.1 percent in Thailand. In particular, the region’s tourist industry was gutted by the travel bans imposed due to COVID-19, impacting the economic livelihoods of hundreds of thousands.

As these numbers continue to creep upward, the restoration of intra-regional travel via a common vaccine certificate, and the mutual recognition of different nations’ certificates, will become an important first step in reviving Southeast Asia’s tourism industries, and the region’s economies as a whole.

According to the ASEAN Secretariat, the region saw more than 50 million intra-regional visitor arrivals in 2019. This made up 36 percent of the region’s total international tourist arrivals. Even on the most optimistic timetable, however, the region, like much of the world, faces a long walk back to normalcy.

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Watch the video: Why Was Singapore Kicked Out of Malaysia? Short Animated Documentary (December 2021).