What did independence mean for Singapore?
On 9 August 1965 at 10 a.m, Singapore announced it’s independence from Malaysia.
Responses and Feelings
Many people were shocked and disappointed with the separation. According to Lee Gek Seng, he stated “To me it was a disappointment because I felt that the future had no hope.” Many locals felt concerned for the future of Singapore and were afraid that Singapore wouldn’t be able to survive on its own. While, the political leaders had mixed feelings towards the separation. Even though they felt disappointed that this merger didn't work out, they felt relieved and happy as well. The leaders and media in other countries also felt sad, nevertheless, they wished Singapore well and supported Singapore. The British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson immediately recognised Singapore as an independent state and the Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies looked forward to cooperating with both Singapore and Malaysia.
Challenges & Changes
After the separation, Singapore faced many challenges. Singapore relied on the British military forces for defence. However, by mid-1970, the British were going to remove their military forces in Singapore. With a weak defence force, not only would Singapore's security be affected, Singapore’s economic developments would be affected as well. Singapore was already struggling with its economy, with the lack of natural resources, the high taxes on goods in Malaysia, slow trade at the entrepôt trade and the severe unemployment; Singapore couldn’t have a weak defence force. Ergo, the Ministry of the Interior and Defence was formed and the National Service was introduced. Singapore also began to build strong ties and allies through diplomacy to help strengthen their defence system. This would help with the economy in Singapore as a strong defence force would draw foreign investments and also promote the development of its industries.
Singapore also found it really challenging to create a sense of belonging among the citizens. Many people felt confused and lost as to whether they're Malaysian or Singaporean. Therefore, to create a sense of belonging and to form a common identity, they composed a pledged that reflects the idea of a united Singapore.
Independence of Singapore
Although Singapore faced many challenges at the start, they found a way to work around it. Independence means a lot to Singapore as it marks the beginning of a new chapter in Singapore. Every year, National day would be a day for everyone to reflect on how far Singapore has gone and how much Singapore has accomplished over the years.