What is the History of the Singapore Government?

The need and idea of a responsible government in Singapore was felt after the trauma of the World War II. On 15th February 1942, Japan attacked Singapore and occupied it for the next three and half years changing its name to Syonan, which meant ‘Light of the South’

The Sook Ching massacre:

In 1942, February 15, this massacre took place where the Chinese living in Singapore were systematically terminated by the Japanese forces during the WWII.

Post War Period:

In 1945 British troops returned to Singapore and it was taken under control by the British Military Administration to defeat Japan. In 1946 Singapore remained as a Crown colony and the Strait Settlements was dissolved.

The war gave the citizens of Singapore a sense of belongingness and a national identity. The developments that followed in the country after the war were:

  • The rich merchant class began to take the share of the governmental power
  • Constitutional power was vested on some nominated non-officials and advisory councils under the Governor which evolved into distinct Executive and Legislative Councils in July 1947.
  • In spite of the fact that the Governor had the full authority over the country, Singapore experienced its first election on March 20, 1948.
  • However, the first Legislative Council existed from 1948 to 1951.
  • The second Legislative Council election was held in 1951 which lasted till 1955.
  • Meanwhile in 1956, British diplomat and agent George Rendel’s recommendations were considered, which formed the basis of the Singapore constitution.
  • In 1954 (Anti) National Service Riots started. At first it was only a peaceful protest of young leftist students against the British government’s decision to compel young ones (18 to 20 years old) join the military. To subvert the activities of the Communist Party of Malaya (post war communism was one of the main threats for the previous colonial powers and the present capitalist and imperialist nations), the British imposed a state of emergency and riots were started where young Chinese left minded civilians were brutally crushed.
Efforts to form the first Self Government:

1955 saw the first truly democratic election in Singapore and defeating the Peoples’ Action Party, a coalition government consisting of the Labor Front, United Malays National Organization and the Malayan Chinese Association came to power under the first Chief Minister David Marshal.

Failing in talks with London on the issue of Self Government in 1956, Marshal resigned and his deputy minister of Labor Front, Lim Yew Hock became the new Chief Minister.

In 1959, self government was attained.

  • Peoples’ Action Party was elected in the next election in 1959 and together with the Chinese Communist Party the newly elected government of Singapore started its fight against the much exploitative British colonizers.
  • In 1959, Lee Kuan Yew became the Prime Minister.
  • In 1962, people of Singapore were called to vote for merging with the Malayan Federation under the Singapore National Referendum or the Merger Referendum of Singapore.
  • Independence of Singapore and the Singapore Government came by merging with the Federation of Malaya in 1963, to much disliking of the communist groups. Due to distrust on each other and ideological differences, the merge was an uncomfortable political situation and soon riots broke out.
  • In 1965 the Malaysian Prime Minister decided to exclude Singapore from the Federation and therefore on 9th August, 1965, Singapore became an independent nation for the first time.
  • In 1965, Singapore became a Republic.
  • Serving the country from 1959 to 1990, Lee Kuan Yew and his Singapore Government fought with the issues of religious and ethnic tension, unemployment and other political crises and curbed them successfully. By the end of his term unemployment rate fall to 3% and GDP grew to 8%. Singapore Government developed its independent defense system by upgrading its military and weapons system.
  • Singapore Government took meticulous and extensive housing development schemes under the Housing Development Board and today Singapore stands tall as a first world country in South East Asia.

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