What did independence mean for SG?

by Dianthe Lindero, 2 Topaz, GVSS, submitted on 16/3/2016

Responses and feelings of people who went through independence

Political responses

The very first National Day was on 9 August, 1955 when Singapore separated from Malaysia. Even though the separation caused a shock for Singapore, it prioritized gaining international recognition as an independent republic. The nation’s efforts to declare itself as an independent nation were certified on its first National Day in 1966 when 29 countries sent congratulatory messages to Singapore. Despite mass participation from all quarters for the much-anticipated national event, the first National Day celebrations did not gain wholehearted support by everyone. Opposition parties like the Singapore UMNO did not attend the morning parade at the Padang; only PAP was there. In the evening, Barisan Sosialis and Party Rakyat held their own meetings to denounce the waste of public money used to celebrate a “phony independence”.

Local responses

Younger locals were not very concerned about the case while others felt a sense of loss and were anxious about Singapore’s survival.

Changes and problems that Singapore went through after independence


Because of the separation, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was concerned about Singapore’s recognition, army and economy. Since Singapore was a small nation, the security was threatened. The Vietnam war was one of the causes of instability in South East Asia in the 1960s. The Singapore government questioned their ability to maintain law and order if the conflict in Vietnam spread. The security was further threatened when the British government announced the withdrawal of its military forces in 1967. Since Singapore depended on the British military for its defense for a long time, the announcement threatened to affect Singapore’s security and stability. The British withdrew their armed forces in 1971. This increased the vulnerability to external and internal threats in Singapore. National service was introduced and by 1976, the number of full-time national servicemen and reservists in the SAF was about 140 000.


The lack of defense also threatened the economic growth of Singapore. Since Singapore had no natural resources, it was unable to rely on exportation of natural resources for development of its economy and the employment of its people. Singapore could not continue depending on trade for its economic growth because of the policies implemented in other countries that restricted importation of foreign-produced goods that caused trade to slow down. The unemployment was further threatened because of the withdrawal of British military forces in the mid-1970s which was mentioned earlier.


The forging of a common identity and sense of belonging among its people was one of the challenges faced in Singapore. Many people were born in Malaysia thus they were qualified for Malaysian citizenship. The government urged the people to take up Singaporean citizenship.




Singapore: The Making of a Nation-State, 1300-1975 (Star Publishing PTE LTD)