Singapore is the only country in the world that gained its independence against its own will. It has since come a long way, yesterday 9 August 2015, Singapore celebrated its Golden Jubilee, or 50th Anniversary.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew (“LKY”) the then Prime Minister of Singapore on 9 August 1965 held a press conference over the independence of Singapore.
“Everytime we look back on this moment when we signed this agreement which severed Singapore from Malaysia, it will be a moment of anguish. For me it is a moment of anguish…” – LKY 9 August 1965
National Archives of Singapore Press Conference 9 August 1965.
Singapore was part of the Federation of Malaysia and together they obtained independence from the British. However the early years of the Federation was marred with conflict between the governments in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Despite the early birth pangs of the Federation, the Singapore government as a whole were extremely keen to work things out with the Federal government. However it was not meant to be.
“after what he (Tunku Abdul Rahman the first Chief Minister of Malaysia) had told me when we were alone, I realised there was no other way than what he thought was the solution, that we had to leave Malaysia” – LKY 9 August 1965
Since then Singapore has grown by leaps and bounds due to the differences in leadership between the Singapore government and the Malaysian government. Which as of this post is embroiled in yet another corruption allegation with the 1 Malaysia Development Board (1MDB).
Singapore has outclassed Malaysia in almost every way, save for number of medals won at the Olympics. It is a unique country as the only one who obtained independence against it own will and building upon that, developed into a first world country.
It is not without its issues, lack of free speech, most famously at the time of this writing, the Amos Yee case. Lack of fit and proper opposition government to keep the reigning government in check. The number of strong opposition candidates one can count with two hands, which is hardly enough to actually be a credible government.
The current government, the People’s Action Party (PAP) has not lost an election since 1959. They did lose the very first elections in Singapore in 1955 to the Labour Party and David Marshall was the first Chief Minister of Singapore. Since then, the PAP has won landslide victories over all opposition parties. They have been able to do so in the early years by showing a heavy hand towards the opposition whom were accused of being communists seeking to destabilise the country, later on by grooming and targeting talented individuals from a young age to join and strengthen the party. The PAP have been good to businesses and have established good conditions for the propagating of enterprises. A quick look over to it neighbours, Malaysia, and one can see stark differences. The independence of the Courts in protecting businesses, trade and economy, and freedom of corruption from the smallest fry to the biggest kahuna all aid in building confidence and trust in the system.
While LKY can say the signing of the separation agreement is a moment of anguish 50 years ago, I’m sure all Singaporeans can all agree that it was the best outcome possible.
Five hundred and fifty word post for Singapore’s golden jubilee celebrations!