About Singapore

About Singapore - Brief HistoryAbout Singapore - Brief History]About Singapore - Brief History

This page covers a brief introduction of Singapore history, independence and economic growth in the last century. Recommended book and source: Singapore 1994

Founding of Modern Singapore

The British, who were extending their dominion in India, and whose trade with China in the second half of the 18th century was expanding, saw the need for a port of call in this region to refit, revitalise and protect their merchant fleet, as well as to forestall any advance by the Dutch in the East Indies. As a result, they established trading posts in Penang (1786) and Singapore (1819), and captured Malacca from the Dutch (1795).

In late l818, Lord Hastings, Governor-General of India, gave tacit approval to Sir Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen, to establish a trading station at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. On 29 January 1819, Raffles landed on the island of Singapore after having surveyed other nearby islands. The next day, he concluded a preliminary treaty with Temenggong Abdu'r Rahman to set up a trading post here. On 6 February 1819, a formal treaty was concluded with Sultan Hussein of Johor and the Temenggong, the de jure and defacto rulers of Singapore respectively.

Singapore proved to be a prized settlement. By 1820, it was earning revenue, and three years later, its trade surpassed that of Penang. In 1824, Singapore's status as a British possession was formalised by two new treaties. The first was the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of March 1824, by which the Dutch withdrew all objections to the British occupation of Singapore. The second treaty was made with Sultan Hussein and Temenggong Abdu'r Rahman in August, by which the two owners ceded the island out right to the British in return for increased cash payments and pensions.

The Straits Settlements

Singapore, together with Malacca and Penang, the two British settlements in the Malay Peninsula, became the Straits Settlements in 1826, under the control of British India. By 1832, Singapore had become the centre of government for the three areas. On 1 April 1867, the Straits Settlements became a Crown Colony under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Office in London.

With the advent of the steamship in the mid-1860s and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Singapore became a major port of call for ships plying between Europe and East Asia. And with the development of rubber planting, especially after the 1870s, it also became the main sorting and export centre in the world for rubber. Before the close of the 19th century, Singapore was experiencing unprecedented prosperity and trade expanded eightfold between 1873 and 1913. The prosperity attracted immigrants from areas around the region. By 1860, the population had grown to 80,792. The Chinese accounted for 61.9 per cent of the number; the Malays and Indians 13.5 and 16.05 per cent respectively; and others, including the Europeans, 8.5 per cent.

The peace and prosperity ended when Japanese aircraft bombed the sleeping city in the early hours of 8 December 1941. Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 February 1942, and was renamed Syonan (Light of the South). It remained under Japanese occupation for three and a half years.

Towards Self-Government

The British forces returned in September 1945 and Singapore came under the British Military Administration. When the period of military administration ended in March 1946, the Straits Settlements was dissolved. On 1 April 1946, Singapore became a Crown Colony. Penang and Malacca became part of the Malayan Union in 1946, and later the Federation of Malaya in 1948.

Postwar Singapore was a contrast to the prewar country of transient immigrants. The people, especially the merchant class, clamored for a say in the government. Constitutional powers were initially vested in the Governor who had an advisory council of officials and nominated non-officials. This evolved into the separate Executive and Legislative Councils in July 1947. The Governor retained firm control over the colony but there was provision for the election of six members to the Legislative Council by popular vote. Hence, Singapore's first election was held on 20 March 1948.

When the Communist Party of Malaya tried to take over Malaya and Singapore by force, a state of emergency was declared in June 1948. The emergency lasted for 12 years. Towards the end of 1953, the British government appointed a commission under Sir George Rendel to review Singapore's constitutional position and make recommendations for change. The Rendel proposals were accepted by the government and served as the basis of a new constitution that gave Singapore a greater measure of self-government.

The 1955 election was the first lively political contest in Singapore's history. Automatic registration expanded the register of voters from 75,000 to over 300,000, and for the first time, it included large numbers of Chinese, who had manifested political apathy in previous elections. The Labor Front won 10 seats. The Peoples Action Party (PAP), which fielded four candidates, won three seats. David Marshall became Singapore's first Chief Minister on 6 April 1955, with a coalition government made up of his own Labor Front, the United Malays National Organization and the Malayan Chinese Association .

Marshall resigned on 6 June 1956, after the breakdown of constitutional talks in London on attaining full internal self government. Lim Yew Hock, Marshall's deputy and minister for Labor became the Chief Minister. The March 1957 constitutional mission to London led by Lim Yew Hock was successful in negotiating the main terms of a new Singapore Constitution. On 28 May 1958, the Constitutional Agreement was signed in London.

Self-government was attained in 1959. In May that year Singapore's first general election was held to choose 51 representatives to the first fully elected Legislative Assembly. The PAP won 43 seats, gleaning 53.4 percent of the total votes. On June 3, the new Constitution confirming Singapore as a self-governing state was brought into force by the proclamation of the Governor, Sir William Goode, who became the first Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State). The first Government of the State of Singapore was sworn in on June 5, with Lee Kuan Yew as Singapore's first Prime Minister.

The PAP had come to power in a united front with the communists to fight British colonialism. The communists controlled many mass organizations, especially of workers and students. It was an uneasy alliance between the PAP moderates and the pro communists, with each side trying to use the other for its own ultimate objective--in the case of the moderates, to obtain full independence for Singapore as part of a non-communist Malaya; in the case of the communists, to work towards a communist take-over.

The tension between the two factions worsened from 1960 and led to an open split in 1961, with the pro-communists subsequently forming a new political party, the Barisan Sosialis. The other main players in this drama were the Malayans, who, in 1961, agreed to Singapore's merger with Malaya as part of a larger federation. This was also to include British territories in Borneo, with the British controlling the foreign affairs, defense and internal security of Singapore.

The Malaysia Proposal

On 27 May 1961, the Malayan Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, proposed closer political and economic co-operation between the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei in the form of a merger. The main terms of the merger, agreed on by him and Lee Kuan Yew, were to have central government responsibility for defense, foreign affairs and internal security, but local autonomy in matters pertaining to education and labor. A referendum on the terms of the merger held in Singapore on 1 September 1962 showed the people's overwhelming support for PAP's plan to go ahead with the merger.

Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963, and consisted of the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo (now Sabah). Brunei opted out. Indonesia and the Philippines opposed the merger. President Sukarno of Indonesia worked actively against it during the three years of Indonesian confrontation.


The merger proved to be short-lived. Singapore was separated from the rest of Malaysia on 9 August 1965, and became a sovereign, democratic and independent nation.

Independent Singapore was admitted to the United Nations on 21 September 1965, and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations on 15 October 1965. On 22 December 1965, it became a republic, with Yusof bin Ishak as the republic's first President.

Thereafter commenced Singapore's struggle to survive and prosper on its own. It also had to create a sense of national identity and consciousness among a disparate population of immigrants. Singapore's strategy for survival and development was essentially to take advantage of its strategic location and the favourable world economy.

Coming of Age

A massive industrialization program was launched with the extension of the Jurong industrial estate and the creation of smaller estates in Kallang Park, Tanjong Rhu, Redhill, Tiong Bahru and Tanglin Halt. The Employment Act and the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act were passed in 1968 to promote industrial peace and discipline among the workforce.

The Economic Development Board was reorganized in 1968 and the Jurong Town Corporation and the Development Bank of Singapore were set up in the same year In 1970, the Monetary Authority of Singapore was established to formulate and implement Singapore's monetary policies.

In 1979, after the shock of two oil crisis, the Government started a program of economic restructuring. This was achieved by modifying education policies, expanding technology and computer education, offering financial incentives to industrial enterprises and launching a productivity campaign.

Public housing was given top priority. New towns sprang up and Housing and Development Board apartments were sold at a low cost. To encourage home ownership, Singaporeans were allowed to use their Central Provident Fund savings to pay for these apartments.

With the British Government's sudden decision in 1967 to withdraw its armed forces from Singapore by the end of 1971, Singapore set out to build up its own defence forces. The Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute was established in 1966 and compulsory national service was introduced in 1967. A Singapore Air Defense Command and a Singapore Maritime Command were set up in 1969. In August 1967, Singapore joined Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand to form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Singapore entered the 1970s as a politically stable state with a high rate of economic growth. The one-party Parliament that emerged from the 1968 general election became the pattern, with the PAP winning all seats in 1972,1976 and 1980. In the 1984 and 1991 general elections, the PAP won all but two and four seats respectively.

On 28 November 1990, a new chapter opened in Singapore's modern history Goh Cheok Tong became the second Prime Minster of Singapore when he took over the office from Lee Kuan Yew who resigned after having been Prime Minster since 1959.

On 12 August 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, son of Lee Kuan Yew became the third Prime Minister of Singapore. One of his major accomplishments was to propose the building of 2 Integrated Resorts (IR) in Singapore which creates a huge avenue for Singapore's economy. Prior to his appointment as PM, he served as Deputy Prime Minister (1991-2004), Minister of Finance, Minister of Trade & Industry.

Related Page

Re: Singapore food - generally very poor quality


Or in the topic... where I see you've posted before. That topic was started with the idea that food that stands out can be elusive to find. Hence a place to share tips and suggestions...


aah I forgot about that thread, thanks for reminding me.

Re: Driving Singapore registered rental car into Malaysia

Thanks everyone for your replies, appreciated. I haven't yet decided whether to rent in JB (rental company said they will come and pick up from Malaysia side of checkpoint) or Changi (easy MRT ride but they haven't responded yet about whether their CDW/theft insurance covers Malaysia). Meanwhile, a few useful links I found to add to the info from others above:

1. Overview info from LTA website
http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en ... apore.html

2. http://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en ... icles.html
- Singapore side toll fees paid in several ways per link above (cash payment incurs $10 admin fee)
- Malaysia side toll fees can be paid in cash or Touch nGo (purchased or topped up with RM next to immigration counter)

3. Current toll fees (Causeway and Tuas; Singapore and Malaysia)
http://www.jackphanginvestment.com/2014 ... ay-vs.html

4. General info relevant to driving rental or foreign registered cars in Singapore

Do continue to post any additional suggestions on this thread, and I'll do the same once my trip is complete. Thanks :)

Re: F/25 Russian - Looking 4 new friends

Indian Culture? I think it died about 300 years ago.

Re: National Service Deferment Procedure in Singapore.

That would mean there have been a total of 119+ million Citizens and PR here in the last 50 years. I'd say that would be a stretch. Assuming, just for grins, there were 1M citizens here in 1965 and there were an average of 35,000 births per year and 35,000 new PRs per year for the past 50 years that would be 75,000 x 50 years or 3.75M + 1M originally here so that would be under 5 million here (current population is what? 3.5M citizens and PRs? the 7 digit NRIC plus the A-L suffixs would make 119M unique NRIC numbers available. I reckon you and I will have to stick around till 2015 to see, yeah? ;-)

I grant you, though, with the numbering system having meaning, there would be considerable numbers available once they run through the numbering sequence that are used for the markers to pigeon-hole each person based on race, religion, DoB, Year of citizenship or year of PR. and who knows what else is in that number.

Re: Next GE predictions?

Also I guess, none of you have missed the irony, Putin, inspite of what he has inflicted on his people is the darling of his nation and here we such a prosperous city and yet it gahmen is having sleepness nights. What an ungrateful bunch of people we have here.

Re: Shoplifting record few years back can apply Spass?

thanks for your opinion i no need to post it to MOM, but i am looking for helpful advise which can help me. :(

Next GE predictions?

Since the GE is coming up next year or the year after, what do you guys think is the result going to be?
I just read this article on Yahoo:

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/pm-lee-ahead- ... 51077.html

Whats really troubling, is this site is not TRE, it is Yahoo a more general news website that all kinds of Singaporeans read and not just trolls and xenophobes. But if you read the comments section, it really scary. Theres not one supportive comment for the gahmen. Its as if you still reading TRE.

The last 2 by-elections result too dont offer much hope, so its not like they are just trolling online.

Re: F/25 Russian - Looking 4 new friends


What exactly you want to hear?
He is a great leader. I am proud of my country and of its face on the international scene.

Re: Basketball - Recreation/Competitive

Just moved to SG, we're on the east coast, Katong area. Used to play point guard in a league for years as well as outdoor court pickup games. Would love to play a few hours a week here!

I'll be checking the suggestions posted above but let me know (pm) if anyone has something organized,

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Re: Singapore food - generally very poor quality


Or in the topic... where I see you've posted before. That topic was started with the idea that food that stands out can be elusive to find. Hence a place to share tips and suggestions...


Re: Shoplifting record few years back can apply Spass?


The problem is simple... she has a criminal record of theft and is trying to get a job in the finance or accounting industry. Even MOM aren't thick enough to give her a pass with that background. OP - do you declare this conviction on your job applications? You should be; any decent MNC will turn it up in a background check.

Re: Driving Singapore registered rental car into Malaysia


You need the Malaysian toll card - I'm not sure where I bought mine - it might have been in the immigration complex- put at least RM100 on it if you're driving to KL and back.

Yes, but definitely bring Ringgit. I was robbed with a 1:1 SGD:MYR exchange rate when I bought mine there with SGD. There is no early point (except back in Singapore) to exchange your currency.

Ah good point.

Re: Uber

Rape incident is in India not USA. Singapore taxi drivers do not insure the passengers as well. Flout the law? How so?

Then again, I guess it's personal preference.

http://www.people.com/article/uber-driv ... lt-charges

That's Boston, Massachusetts (USA) not Boston, Maharashtra.

Whatever, Uber cannot guarantee anything... whereas in Singapore if a Taxi driver tries to rape me, mugs me, absconds with my money, abuses me by taking a long cut etc.... I can complain to LTA. Uber will just fob me off.

Re: F/25 Russian - Looking 4 new friends

Tell us about Mr Putin?

Re: ICA ask for document

Hi All,

My PR application summited on March, is been pending for 9months, now ICA ask me to submit letter from employer about my designation, first date to join and some detail, but the problem is if I ask my company to help to write a letter, they want me to tie with contract , which I do not want to do that, ICA do considerate with my self explanation letter why I can't provide the letter? I just wondering if I wrote explanation letter, will bring down my chances ?

Too bad, I guess you'll just have to go home or accept the contract.