Malaysian Studies Assignment - Separation Of Malaysia And Singapore
Low Li Anne
Gennieve Awing Pui Shui Fong
Lim Seng Keat
Tan Jin Hang
Yap Shein Hang
Jonas Tan Zhao Zhuan
Laurance Low Wen Jieh
Foo Ji Sun
The main purpose of this assignment is to fulfil the requirements for the subject of Malaysian
Studies in our Cambridge A Levels course. Thus, we were assigned to research a topic related to
Malaysian Studies and write about it. This assignment also has a few objectives which are, to
create an opportunity of researching about Malaysia through experiential learning, to assess
student's ability on various areas or skills such as research methods, management, communication
and technical skills, to train students in research and fact finding, effective coordinating, executing
and writing an assignment, analysing and planning, to give opportunity for students to develop
their creativity in writing an assignment.
In relation to the above, the topic that we have chosen to research is the Separation Of Malaysia
And Singapore. The reason that we have chosen to research this topic is because we find that this
topic is historically significant in many ways. This momentous event in Malaysia’s and
Singapore’s history took place on 9 August 1965. With this move, Singapore became a completely
FORMATION OF MALAYSIA
On the 27th May 1961, Tunku Abdul Rahman suggested the merger of Malaya with Singapore,
Sarawak, Sabah (North Borneo) and Brunei. “Free through unification” was the main factor of the
proposal. Political reasons of the merger are to curb communist threat in Singapore, Sarawak and
Sabah, to accelerate the independence or Singapore, Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei, and ultimately to
create racial harmony. Other reasons such as to boost regional economy for the countries and to
create a new identity based on a shared cultural heritage are also in the picture.
Opposition came from the Malayans as the fear that the high majority of Chinese population in
Singapore will threaten the Malay sovereignty. Opposition of the formation later died down when
Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei were brought in.
On the 16th September 1963, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah joined Malaya to form the Federation
of Malaysia. The central government was located in Kuala Lumpur and was controlled by the
Alliance Party (Parti Perikatan) or currently known as the National Front (Barisan Nasional).
SINGAPORE IN MALAYSIA
The proposal of withdrawing Singapore from the Federation of Malaysia came into mind when the
polarization between Malays and Chinese became obvious. Political parties in Malaya we formed
along racial lines. UNMO for the Malays, MCA for the Chinese and MIC for the Indians. These
parties have the same goal which was to look after the interests of their own communities.
In Singapore, most political parties were multiracial and did not aim to promote the interest of one
community over another as they believe that special rights did not exist (In Malaya, special rights
were given to Malays to improve their standard of living). The People’s Action Party believed that
people’s standard of living will improve through education and industrialisation as it provides
equal opportunity for all to succeed.
Singapore wanted Malaysian leaders to stop thinking along racial lines but this basic difference
created problems between the two governments. Thus straining their relationships and eventually
led to separation.
During the September 1963 Singapore State Elections, Alliance Party (Parti Perikatan) leaders in
Kuala Lumpur wanted Singapore Alliance (The Singaporean component or the ruling Alliance
Party in Malaya) to have (win) more seats in the Singapore Legislative Assembly. The Singapore
Alliance did not win any seats while the PAP won 37 out of 51 seats. UMNO was utmost unhappy
when election results showed that Singapore Malays supported PAP’s programme for a better
standard of living.
Before 1964, PAP had no branches outside of Singapore. PAP decided to take part in the 1964
Federal Election as a Malaysian political party. Their goals were to build a Malaysian Malaysia
and to provide all with necessary skills and equal opportunity to succeed. The Alliance leaders
ware upset as PAP had promised not to take part in the Federal Elections.
PAP argues that since the Alliance had taken part in the 1963 Singapore State Election, it was only
natural that the PAP contested in the Federal Election. The Alliance leaders, especially UMNO,
were angry as PAP’s campaign seemed to criticise the way Malaya was governed by the Alliance.
PAP drew large crowds to its rallies but only won 1 seat. The Alliance won 89 our of 104 seats but
was worried about the popularity of the PAP.
THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE PEOPLE’S ACTION PARTY
Some UMNO leaders began to criticise the PAP for not looking after the interests of the Malays in
Singapore. An anti-PAP campaign was started through the Malay press, mainly under Utusan
Melayu. They have stated issues like the redevelopment in Crawford, Kampung Glam and Rochor
areas have caused the families there to be resettled. 2500 families were resettled but only 200
were Malay families. Utusan Melayu also claimed that 3000 Malays were affected
Over time, more misleading articles appeared in the Utusan Melayu to ease growing racial
tension. Lee Kuan Yew met 900 Malay representatives in July 1964 and promised that the
government would do its best to help Malays overcome problems in education, employment and
housing. Utusan Melayu continued with its anti-PAP campaign and finally, the racial tension in
Singapore lead to race riots.
THREATS TO SINGAPORE
The Malays and Muslims in Singapore were being increasingly incited by the federal
government's accusations that the PAP was mistreating the Malays. Numerous racial riots resulted,
and curfews were frequently imposed to restore order.
THE 1964 RACE RIOTS [JULY RIOT]
On the 21st July 1964, 25000 Malays gathered at the Padang (Yes it’s a place in Singapore) to
celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. Anti-PAP speeches were cited by various Malay leaders.
The crowd formed a celebratory procession from the Padang to Geylang. Goaded by ultra-
nationalists of UMNO, the peaceful procession quickly turned violent. The government declared a
curfew to restore order. In the first day of rioting, 23 people were killed and 454 injured.
Various reasons have been cited for the riots. Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak
blamed ethnic Indonesian and communist provocatuers (An undercover agent who acts to entice
another person to commit an illegal act). Lee Kuan Yew attributed the riots to the ultra-nationalists
THE 1964 RACE RIOTS [SEPTEMBER RIOT]
On the 3rd September 1964, a Malay trishaw-rider was found murdered in the Geylang
neighbourhood. His attackers were believed to be a group of ethnic Chinese. The race riot ensued
and the government again imposed a curfew. In this incident, 13 people were killed and 106
Both Malaysia and Singapore have attributed the September riots to Indonesian provocatuers and
THE INDONESIAN CONFRONTATION
Ever since Indonesia broke off relations with Malaysia in September 1963, Indonesian President
Sukarno has launched a confrontation namely Konfrontasi. The confrontation was an undeclared
war with most of the action occuring in the border area between Indonesia and Malaysia.
The MacDonald House bombing occurred on 10th March 1965, at the Hong Kong and Shanghai
Bank building (now known as the MacDonald House) in Orchard Road. 3 people were killed and
33 injured from the explosion. Dispite the efforts of the British, small groups of sabotuers
managed to infiltrate the island and plant bombs. By March 1965, a total of 29 bombs had been set
off in Singapore.
To help the police and army defend Singapore from these bomb attacks, more than 10000 signed
up for the Voluntary Vigilante Corps which was set up in Apr 1964. Community Centres served as
bases for the volunteers to patrol their neighbourhoods.
On 7th August 1965, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, seeing no alternative to avoid further
bloodshed, advised the Parliament of Malaysia that it should vote to expel Singapore from
Malaysia. Despite last-ditch attempts by PAP leaders, including Lee Kuan Yew, to keep Singapore
as a state in the union, the Parliament on 9th August 1965 voted 126-0 in favour of the expulsion
On that day, Lee Kuan Yew tearfully announced that Singapore was a sovereign, independent
nation and assumed the role of prime minister of the new nation. Hence, Singapore became the
only country in the history of the modern world to gain independence against its own will.