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Main article: History of Singapore
A parade of Japanese soldiers in a street of Singapore

Victorious Japanese troops marching through Singapore City after British capitulation at the Battle of Singapore

Temasek (‘Sea Town’ in the Malay language), a second century outpost of the Sumatran Srivijaya empire, is the earliest known settlement on Singapore. The island was part of the Sri Vijaya Empire until it was invaded by the south Indian Emperor Rajendra Chola I, of the Chola Empire, in the 11th century.In 1613, Portuguese raiders burned down the settlement and the island sank into obscurity for the next two centuries.

Nominally, it belonged to the Johor Sultanate during this period, while the maritime region and trade was under Dutch control.

In 1819, Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived and signed a treaty with Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor, on behalf of the British East India Company, to develop the southern part of Singapore as a British trading post. In 1824, the entire island became a British possession under a further treaty with the Sultan, as well as the Temenggong. In 1826, Singapore became part of the Straits Settlements, under the jurisdiction of British India, becoming the regional capital in 1836.Prior to Raffles’ arrival, there were approximately 1,000 people living on the island, mostly indigenous Malays along with a handful of Chinese. By 1860, the population exceeded 80,000 and more than half were Chinese. Many immigrants came to work at rubber plantations and, after the 1870s, the island became a global centre for rubber exports.

During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded British Malaya, culminating in the Battle of Singapore. The British surrendered on 15 February 1942. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the defeat “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history”.Between 5,000 and 25,000 ethnic Chinese people were killed in the subsequent Sook Ching massacre. The Japanese occupied Singapore until the British repossessed it in September 1945, after the Surrender of Japan.

David Marshall, pro-independence leader of the Labour Front, won Singapore’s first general election in 1955. He led a delegation to London, but Britain rejected his demand for complete self-rule. He subsequently resigned to be replaced by Lim Yew Hock, whose policies convinced Britain to grant Singapore full internal self-government for all matters except defence and foreign affairs.

A cheering crowd welcome the return of British forces, 1945

During the May 1959 elections, the People’s Action Party won a landslide victory. Singapore became an internally self-governing state within the Commonwealth and Lee Kuan Yew became the country’s first Prime Minister.Governor Sir William Allmond Codrington Goode served as the first Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State), and was succeeded by Yusof bin Ishak, who became the first President of Singapore in 1965.During the 1950s, Chinese Communists with strong ties to the trade unions and Chinese schools carried out an armed uprising against the government, leading to the Malayan Emergency and later, the Communist Insurgency War. The 1954 National Service Riots, Chinese middle schools riots, and Hock Lee bus riots in Singapore were all linked to these events.

As a result of the 1962 Merger Referendum, on 31 August 1963 Singapore joined with the Federation of Malaya, the Crown Colony of Sarawak and Crown Colony of North Borneo to form the new Federation of Malaysia under the terms of the Malaysia Agreement. Singaporean leaders chose to join Malaysia primarily due to concerns regarding their limited land size and scarcity of land, water, markets and natural resources. They also were hoping to enlist the help of the Malaysian government to combat the internal Communist threat.

However, the two years that Singapore spent as part of Malaysia were filled with strife and bitter disagreements. The Malaysians insisted on a pro-Bumiputera (Malay for indigenous) society, where indigenous Malays and tribes were given special rights. The Malaysians were also suspicious of Singapore’s ethnic Chinese population, and worried that Singapore’s economic clout would shift the centre of power from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. There were also linguistic and religious issues. The Singaporeans, on the other hand, wanted an equal and meritocratic society, a Malaysian Malaysia where all citizens were given equal rights without regard to indigenous or tribal affiliation or ancestry.

The Malaysian Parliament blocked many progressive bills, bringing Singapore’s economic and social development to a halt. Race riots broke out in Singapore in 1964. After much heated ideological conflicts between the two governments, in 1965, the Malaysian Parliament voted 126 to 0 to expel Singapore from Malaysia; the Singaporean delegates were not present and could not vote.Singapore gained independence as the Republic of Singapore (remaining within the Commonwealth) on 9 August 1965, with Yusof bin Ishak as President and Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister. Everyone who was living in Singapore on the date of independence was offered Singapore citizenship. Race riots broke out once more in 1969. In 1967, the country co-founded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and in 1970 it joined the Non-Aligned Movement.

In 1990, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee as Prime Minister. During his tenure, the country faced the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the 2003 SARS outbreak and terrorist threats posed by Jemaah Islamiyah. In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the country’s third Prime Minister.

Acknowledgement : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore#History


 

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