Published on September 11, 2007
Merger And Separation
The Tunku did not want Singapore to fall into commie hands "Malaya today as a nation realises that she cannot stand alone" --Tunku Abdul Rahman
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was initially against the idea. He felt that the predominantly Chinese population in Singapore would upset the delicate racial balance in Malaysia. At that time, Malays formed 49% of Malaysia’s total population while the Chinese formed 37%. Tunku also viewed the Chinese in Singapore as being sympathetic towards the Communist cause. He was unwilling to allow the Communists to creep into Malaysia again, after it had wiped them out.
It was not until 1961 that Tunku changed his stand on the issue of merger. The Tunku feared that Singapore might rapidly change into a communist state and would then become a troublesome neighbour. The merger plan would include the Borneo territories; Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, to maintain racial balance. This would bring the five territories closer together in political and economic cooperation, creating "a mighty Malaysia". At a luncheon speech to the Foreign Correspondents Association in Singapore in May 1961, the Tunku announced a plan for merger
In September 1962, the people of Singapore voted for merger with Malaysia. Despite calls by the Barisan Sosialis to return blank votes, 71% of the voters voted in favour of Alternative A : merger
It was against this backdrop of tension that the merger was finalised and Malaysia was established on Sept 16, 1963. Hundreds of thousands of people jammed the gaily-decorated streets in all 14 states to greet the birth of the new nation. Week-long-celebrations were held to mark Malaysia Day. It fulfilled Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's goal of getting independence through merger.
However, the merger did not last for long. Conflicts over finances, revenues, a common market and politics caused rifts in the relationship. 1) Unequal distribution of wealth In December 1963, Lee Kuan Yew argued that the Malaysia budget created an unequal distribution of wealth instead of improving social conditions.
) Decreased trade The merger did not result in increased trade. Instead, Indonesia’s boycott cut off trade ties with Singapore. Demands for larger portion of Singapore’s revenues In December 1964, the Central Government demanded a larger portion of Singapore’s revenues to meet increased defence expenditure which resulted from the Confrontation
PAP’s participation in the 1964 Malaysia elections PAP argued that it would be a more effective partner of UMNO within the Alliance instead of MCA, as it would gain the support of the Chinese community. UMNO viewed this move as a challenge to its Malay-based political system. MCA, on the other hand, felt that this was a threat to their position in the Alliance. Although PAP won only one seat in the elections, it added to the number of Singapore representatives in the federal legislature, making PAP the leading opposition party.
Racial riots Racial riots between the Malays and Chinese erupted in Singapore on July 21, 1964. 23 people were killed and 454 were injured in the riots.
Formation of a Malaysia Solidarity Convention The PAP formed a Malaysia Solidarity Convention in May 1965 which combined various opposition parties in Malaysia. It called for a democratic Malaysian Malaysia that would be for all Malaysians and not one community. Members of UMNO’s right wing viewed the Convention as a plot against Kuala Lumpur. Lee Kuan Yew’s open attacks against the Central government sparked accusations that he was trying to seize power for himself.
On Aug 9, 1965, Tunku Abdul Rahman issued a proclamation that Singapore would cease to be a part of Malaysia and would become independent and separate
Long Beach. (Calif) Tues - Linda Lim, 18 year-old Miss Malaysia in the current " Miss International" beauty pageant, said last night she had no idea whether her status would be changed by the withdrawal of Singapore from Malaysia. A MODEL Linda, who was elected "Miss Malaysia" in Singapore said she was "Completely in the dark" about the situation. Contest officials said they had heard nothing from Singapore on whether she should change her representation. Linda, a model was born in Penang, but lives in Singapore.
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