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Chapter eight How did Singapore progress to internal self-government (1955-1959)?

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter eight How did Singapore progress to internal self-government (1955-1959)?"— Presentation transcript:

1 chapter eight How did Singapore progress to internal self-government (1955-1959)?

2 Progress towards Internal Self-Government 1948 - 1959 Branch of GovernmentFirst Election 1948 Limited Self-Government, 1955 Internal Self-Government, 1959 Executive Power in the hands of the British rulers Head of state - British Governor 3 British ministers Chief Minister 6 local ministers Head of State - Yang di- Pertuan Negara No British minister Prime Minister All ministers were local Legislative 6 elected non-officials 13 nominated by the Br 3 selected by the Chambers of Commerce No specific areas of responsibility 25 elected members 7 nominated members Areas of responsibility: Trade & Industry, Health, Education and Housing 51 elected members No nominated members Areas of responsibility: Trade and Industry, Health, Education, Housing, Law and Labour, Finance Shared area of responsibility: Internal Security

3 HIGH LOW British control over areas of government Singapore’s control over areas of government Independence 1965 1948 Government 1955 Limited Self- Government 1959 Internal Self- Government

4 David Marshall  The first locally-born leader elected to head the first government.  As the Labour Front had won the most seats, it formed the government. Marshall became the Chief Minister while six local representatives became Ministers.  As Chief Minister, Marshall was still under the control of the Governor. The Governor and the British officials only viewed him as a figurehead and did not give him proper respect.  Because Marshall’s party was not the one that the British expected to win, they did not receive full British support.

5 David Marshall  The British were not certain that the Marshall administration could protect British interests and prevent Singapore from falling into the hands of the communists. This was because Marshall seemed unwilling to arrest and imprison the communists.  When Marshall requested for more authority for his government, the Governor turned him down. Marshall believed that the amount of self-government given by the British was insufficient and requested for full self- government.  He hoped for local ministers to gain control over all internal matters concerning Singapore.  He threatened to resign if the British were unwilling to grant self-government.

6 A historian’s account of the relations between the British and David Marshall “The new government had taken off to a troubled start, and the weakness of Marshall’s minority position forced him all the more bellicose in his dealings with the colonial authorities. The British deplored what they considered to be Marshall’s excessively soft handling of riots, while the Chief Minister’s lack of political guile* and his sympathy with dissident workers and students made his relationship with Government house more difficult.” *guile: the quality of being cunning and good at deceiving people. Taken from A History of Singapore 1819-1988, Second Edition, by C.M. Turnbull, 1996.

7 Role of the Labour Front  Even though the Labour Front won the most number of seats in the 1955 election, it did not have an absolute majority (winning 50% or more of the seats) in the Assembly.  As a result, the LF formed a coalition government with the Alliance Party.  The new government had to deal with the challenges posed by the strengthened Communist movement that organized regular industrial disputes and strikes.

8 Hock Lee Bus Riots

9  Workers from two trade unions (Singapore Bus Workers Union and Hock Lee Employee’s Union) went on strike for better pay and working conditions in April 1955.  David Marshall attempted to settle the dispute between the bus company and the union by setting up a Commission of Inquiry. However, both parties failed to reach an agreement. The protests by the bus workers continued.

10 Hock Lee Bus Riots  When the protest turned increasingly violent, the government called in the police to control the workers and students by using fire hoses.  The strikes only came to an end on 14 May 1955.  Marshall seemed reluctant to arrest and imprison the Communists during the Hock Lee Bus riots. This caused the British to have a negative impression of Marshall.

11 Students’ Riots  These riots started when it was announced that the Singapore Chinese Middle School Students’ Union would be closed down due to its Communist activities. Four student leaders were arrested and 142 students were expelled for taking part in Communist activities.  Students retaliated by camping at their campuses for two weeks.  The government sent out the police, who used tear gas to force the students out from the schools. The angry mob then went on a rampage in the city. This continued for three days.

12 Students’ Riots  A curfew was imposed in vain. Eventually, the army was called in and road-blocks were set up during the curfew to prevent the congregation of large crowds.  The riots only ended when the police arrested almost all the union leaders, including the pro- communist Lim Chin Siong as well as Fong Swee Suan.

13 Merdeka Talks  Merdeka refers to a Malay word meaning freedom.

14 First Merdeka Talks  Marshall led a team to London to negotiate for self- government. Prior to the discussions, Marshall had promised to resign from his position should the talks be fruitless.  He demanded internal self-government for Singapore by 1957. In addition, he maintained that Singapore should have authority over defence and external affairs.  However, the British did not trust that Marshall could deal with the Communist threat and did not grant Singapore internal self-government.  The talks failed and Marshall stepped down as Chief Minister.

15 Lim Yew Hock  Lim Yew Hock became the next Chief Minister.  He did not believe in threatening the British in order to gain concessions since he identified that the British were concerned about the Communist threat and were thus reluctant to grant more authority to the people.  Thus, Lim Yew Hock believed in cooperating with the British to curb the Communist threat and gain confidence of the British government.  His success in suppressing the 1956 Students’ Riots gained the approval of the British.

16 A historian’s account of Lim Yew Hock’s actions during the 1956 riots. “Lim knew he needed to demonstrate firmness against subversion if he was to maximize his bargaining power…the PAP’s militant “Middle Road” Union leaders, including Lim Chin Siong and Fong Swee Suan, were amongst those detained. Lim Yew Hock thus earned his colours…with Lim Yew Hock thus demonstrating his firmness, and the communist arm of the PAP weakened, the case for trying to secure local goodwill by negotiating an agreement (with the British) was increased.” Taken from Defence and Decolonisation in Southeast Asia: Britain, Malaya and Singapore 1941-68 by Karl Hack, 2001.

17 Second Merdeka Talks  Lim Yew Hock led another group to London to re-negotiate for internal self-governments. This group included members of other parties.  Although Lim Yew Hock wanted to obtain control over all internal matters of government, he was willing to compromise on the issue of internal security as he knew that the British were concerned about the Communist threat.

18 Second Merdeka Talks  It was decided that external matters like foreign affairs and defence would remain with the British.  The proposals of the Marshall mission of 1956 now formed the basis for the talks. This resulted in the November 1958 Constitution being drawn up.  Lim Yew Hock then announced that Singapore would have internal self-government with elections held in May 1959.

19 An excerpt from a 1956 British document on Singapore’s security “We are firmly of the view that as a military base, Singapore is indispensable to the defence not only of Southeast Asia, but of Australia and New Zealand, and we feel that an independent Government would not be in a position to guarantee the necessary degree of security.” Adapted from Outward Telegram from Commonwealth Relations Office, Public Record Office document, 1956.

20 1959 elections

21 Progress towards internal self-govt Branch Of Government First Election 1948 Limited Self- Government 1955 Internal Self- Government 1959 ExecutivePower was in the hands of the British Rulers Head Of State- British Governor 3 British Ministers Chief Minister 6 Local ministers Head Of State- Yang-Di-Pertuan Negara No British Minister Prime Minister All ministers are local

22 Progress towards internal self-govt Branch Of Government First Election 1948 Limited Self- Government 1955 Internal Self- Government 1959 Legislative6 elected non- officials 13 nominated by the British 3 selected by the Chambers of Commerce No Specific areas of responsibility 25 elected members 7 nominated members Areas of responsibility: Trade and industry, health education and housing 51 elected members No nominated members Areas of responsibility: Trade and industry, health education, housing, law and labour, finance

23 Progress towards internal self-govt  Shared area of responsibility: Internal Security  Under British Control: External Affairs and External Defence  For Internal Security, local and British representatives sat on the Internal Security Council and shared responsibility for Singapore’s security.  With internal self-government, Singapore would then be known as the State of Singapore.  A head of State (the Yang di-Pertuan Negara) would replace the British Governor.  The Legislative Assembly of 51 members could debate issues in English, Malay, Mandarin or Tamil.

24 1959 Elections  The 1959 Elections was Singapore’s first fully democratic election.  A total of 525,000 people voted.  Voting was made compulsory to ensure that people took part in the process of choosing their government.  The jump in the number of voters was also due to the law known as the Citizenship Ordinance passed in 1957. This law allowed Singapore who were not born in Singapore to become citizens.

25 1959 Elections  Compared to six parties in 1955, 13 parties took part in the election.  There were 194 candidates running for seats in the government.  Intense campaigning took place as parties tried to win the trust and votes of the people.  There was increased interest by the general public on who should govern Singapore.

26 1959 Elections  The PAP impressed the people with their plans, incorruptibility and unity while the other parties appeared disunited. As a result the PAP won 43 out of 51 seats in the Legislative Assembly.  As the PAP had obtained a large majority in the Legislative Assembly, it formed the new government. Lee Kuan Yew, the leader of the PAP became the first Prime Minister. A few months later, Yusof bin Ishak became the Head of State.

27 1959 Elections  Singapore had its own national anthem, its own state crest and its own national flag to replace the symbols of British government.  However, Singapore was not an independent nation as the British still retained control over some areas and the Queen appointed the Head of State.

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