What did independence mean for Singapore?

mr lee say sg i                  (Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at a press conference explaining Singapore’s sudden independence on 9 August 1965)

With independence, Singapore took a huge milestone as it had to be self-sufficient, but this was especially difficult as we faced many problems such as lack of economic resources, weak defense force, mass unemployment, and difficulty in establishing a sense of citizenship and belonging.In order to better understand how remarkable Singapore’s independence was, let’s take a look at how people reacted towards Singapore’s independence.

The-Straits-Times_Singapore_Out_headlin(New excerpt from The Strait Times on the reactions of political leaders)

The Minister for Education,former Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign affairs said that they was taken aback by the unexpected break up and was also greatly disappointed as their efforts for merger had been wasted, especially when they had such high hopes about the future of Singapore with Malaysia.On the other hand,  some political leaders were actually quite relieved about the seperation as they felt that it was better for both Singapore and Malaysia, as well as its people. Most local people were upset and shocked upon hearing the sudden news but the others were not really too concerned about Singapore’s political future and just wanted their lives to go along.As for leaders and the media in other countries, they felt sad and sorry for Singapore and offered their help too, if we were to face any problems.

marching con(Marching contingent during first ever National Day Parade after independence)

After the seperation and the reaction of various people, many people were unsure if Singapore would actually be able to survive on its own after independence as it faced different challenges in defending itself, stabilizing its economy and making people’s life better. One of the main challenges that Singapore faced was in security because the British government withdrew its military forces and Singapore could not defend itself using its small defence force. Hence,the Ministry of the Interior and Defence was established where National Service was introduced to increase the defense force. Diplomatic relations with other countries was also established to ensure strong ties and alliances with other countries. Another problem was Singapore’s economic survival as it was a small country without its own natural resources and also could not continue depending on entrepot trade. These were made worse due to severe unemployment. Lastly,Singapore had difficulty forging a common identity and sense of belonging as nobody seemed to care much about citizenship rights, privileges and responsibilities.

Hence, Singapore’s independence was a remarkable event as it brought about changes in people’s lives by making it better and solving the problems and challenges faced.

Done by: Brian, Shao Kai, Hai Tao, Deekshitha, Lakshmi


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