what independence meant for S'pore

the challenges faced by Sinapore after independence

After depending on the British for a long time, when Singapore was independent, her internal and external security was not strong. Indonesia believed that the formation of Malaysia would lead to the British controlling the entire South-east Asia,thus began the Konfrontasi, which took place from 1963 to 1966. The bombings still continued in Singapore even after she separated for Malaysia.

Another challenges was our economic survival. We were a small island with no natural resources and no forms of valuable commodities (e.g gold). Thus, we had to work on our tense relations with Malaysia in order to survive economically.


"Policians on both sides will realise that Malaysia and Singapore must retain good trade relatons. It is a case of do or die. As such, politicians owe it to themselves and thier particular country to exercise the utmost tact and restraint to prevent an economic split. This is no time for spite, temper or ill-will. Economic considerations must override political ones. The happiness and well-being of the people must come before political prestige."


By Alarmed, Singapore

-Letter to the Straits Times from an unknown person, 17 August 1965

the response of the people and why they acted the way they did

Some people were unsure of Singapore's political future, whether they would survive on their own without any other stronger nation's backing and wondered if Singapore could live on her own. They did this because they were scared that Singapore's economy would fall. Some were in sheer disbelief that Singapore had actually separated from Malaysia.


"My first reaction was sheer disbelief. I was a lecturer with the Teachers' Training College then. I felt a sense of loss and sadness because people suddenly found themselves separated by a political divide. Looking back, I feel more comfortable now as a Singaporean and am glad we chose to stay here despite requests from friends and relatives to move to Malaysia.


-Adapted from an account by Muhammad Ariff Ahmad,a novelist and lecturer of Malay lauguage and literature.