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Singapore Merger and Separation

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Singapore Merger and Separation

  1. 1.   Overview  Merger Separation Problems and        Solutions  Merger    Reasons for Singapore’s Separation From Malaysia     ROOT CAUSE: Federal­State government conflict → PAP vs Alliance rivalry     Background:  Singapore was separated from mainland Malaya since 1946  → Singapore had been part of Malaya (via Straits Settlements)  → 11 states in peninsular Malaya formed Malayan Union and later Federation of Malaya  → Singapore became a separate colony of Britain  → This meant that Singapore and Malaya developed its political system separately from                          1946 to 1963  → For example, Singapore’s head of government in 1959 was already known as Prime                            Minister, when Singapore joined Malaysia, the title Prime Minister of Singapore still                        remained while other state’s head of government were known as Menteri Besar (Chief                          Minister) → Malaysia had 2 Prime Ministers (Federal and Singapore)    
  2. 2.   Overview  Merger Separation Problems and        Solutions  Different socio­political background:  Malaya → Malays formed slight majority but did not own the country’s wealth because  ●  Malayan economy was largely exploited by the British  ●  Malay heartlands were largely agrarian while most of the wealth was                      concentrated in urban areas that served the tin and rubber industries  ●  Many Chinese and Indian workers came to Malaysia and soon began to own the                            companies, while the Malays worked for them.  → United Malays National Organization (UMNO) was formed to protect Malay special                        rights from further erosion  → Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) was formed to fight for Chinese citizenship                        and rights in Malaya  ●  Chinese form a sizeable population, if not majority, in urban areas that served tin                            and rubber industries like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, etc.  → The Chinese owned most of the economic power in Malaysia.  ●  The banking and insurance industries were owned by the Chinese from the start.  ●  The British viewed the Chinese and Indians as more loyal than the Malays;                          therefore they allowed them to set up more companies.  ●  The Chinese had strong economic backing from China when the entrepreneurs                      set up their businesses.  ●  The Chinese owned most of the profitable tin and rubber industries.  → Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) was formed initially to garner support among                        Indian migrants for the independence drive in India, during the post­war years it actively                            pursued for equal citizenship rights for Malaya.  → Social Contract of Malaya/Malaysia: Malays hold on to political power in exchange                          for non­Malays citizenship in Malaya/Malaysia, non­Malays must relinquish links with                    their countries of origin.  → In what is known as the “Social Contract”, the Malays and the “non­Bumiputera” had                              a trade in which the non­indigenous people traded their political power for Malaysian                          citizenship.  ●  One flaw of the “Social Contract” and the Bumiputera system is that most of the                              Malays in Malaysia were relatively new immigrants, and so were the Chinese and                          Indians. Therefore, the Malays should not have greater rights over the                      “non­Bumiputera” as no race should proclaim ownership of Malaysia and reason                      that they are more justified to be called Malaysians and have Malaysian                        citizenship than other races.  ●  One of the earliest critics of this system is the PM of Singapore, Mr Lee. He                                proposed that every citizen of Malaysia be given equal rights and that the Malays                            and other Bumiputera should enjoy no special rights.    
  3. 3.   Overview  Merger Separation Problems and        Solutions  Singapore’s situation:  → Entrepot port, a cosmopolitan city with diverse ethnic communities  ●  Racial breakdown in 1965: Chinese (71%), Malay (19%), Indian (8%), Others                      (2%)  → Predominantly Chinese within the Malay archipelago → due to increasing need for                          migrant labour, increasing opportunities for business and commerce in Singapore,                    escaping political persecution in China  → Experienced post­war problems like unemployment, shortage of housing, etc  → providing affirmative action (ie, preserving special rights for Malays) for the minority                          in Singapore may discriminate against the majority as well as other ethnic groups  → Hence PAP’s ideology was rooted in meritocracy  ●  The PAP believed that everyone is equal, and that everyone should work for                          himself or herself, and not rely on the state.  ●  The PAP did not support the race­based politics in peninsular Malaysia, as it                          believed that this would lead to irreconcilable racial issues and widespread                      unhappiness.  ●  The PAP was also an early critic of the Bumiputera system in Malaysia, as it                              believed that it would not benefit the citizens in Singapore.  ●  The PAP did not     How the political rivalry was manifested:  → Political battles  ­ ​1963 Singapore State Elections  ●  PAP won 37 out of 51 seats in the Singapore state elections, held 5 days after                                Malaysia Day.  ●  The Singapore Alliance did not win any seats in the Singapore Legislative                        Assembly (SLA) and even lost predominantly Malay constituencies like Geylang                    Serai, Kampong Kembangan and Southern Islands to the PAP.  ●  The leaders of UMNO vowed to reorganize Singapore Alliance to challenge the                        PAP in the next election in Singapore and this strained relationship between the                          PAP and the Central government.  ●  The UMNO accused the people of Singapore of being disloyal to their own race.                            However, this is untrue as the PAP candidates who contested in the elections                          and won were all Malay. Therefore, they were not being “disloyal” to the Malays.  ●  The Singaporean Chinese faced increasing racial and economic discrimination in                    Malaysia after the merger. As the Chinese were the majority (three­quarters) of                        the population in Singapore.  ­ ​1964 Federal Parliamentary Elections  ●  In 1964, the PAP participated in the Federal parliamentary elections in Malaysia                       
  4. 4.   Overview  Merger Separation Problems and        Solutions  in a bid to establish itself as a Malaysian political party.  ●  This went against the “gentlemen’s agreement” between Lee Kuan Yew and                      Tunku Abdul Rahman that the PAP would not establish itself in peninsular                        Malaysia.  ●  The PAP only managed to win one seat and the Alliance won 89 out of 104 seats                                  in Parliament  ●  Even though the PAP had only one seat in the Malaysian parliament, it became                            the chief opposition party.  ●  Nevertheless the participation of the PAP in the 1964 Federal election upset the                          leaders of UMNO and led to further strained relations between the PAP and the                            Central government in Kuala Lumpur  ●  The rivalry between both governments escalated social tension on the ground                      and this eventually erupted into racial riots in 1964 (see ‘Social tension’ below)  ●  Lee Kuan Yew  ­ ​1965 Malaysian Solidarity Convention​ ­ “Malaysian Malaysia”  ●  In October 1964, a month of the outbreak of the second racial riot in Singapore,                              the Alliance ended the truce between themselves and the PAP by announcing                        that the Singapore Alliance would be reorganized so that it could win the next                            Singapore’s state election to be held in 1967.  ●  The PAP saw this as a direct challenge to its hold on power in the state of                                  Singapore.  ●  In response, the PAP formed the Malaysian Solidarity Convention (MSC) with                      four opposition parties from Malaysia and campaigned for a “Malaysian Malaysia”                      which advocated equal opportunities for everyone regardless of race and                    religion.  ●  The MSC’s campaign angered the radical faction within UMNO as it was                        perceived to challenge the special position of the Malays as enshrined in the                          Federal Constitution  ●  The radical faction within UMNO demanded that Lee Kuan Yew be arrested for                          his Malaysian Malaysia campaign was also seen as trying to remove the Sultans’                          special position, which amounted to treason.  ●  However, the Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister, Tun Ismail, a moderate                        UMNO politician, refused to heed the calls from the radical faction, arguing that                          Lee Kuan Yew was exercising his democratic right as a Malaysian.  ●  By July 1965, the Tunku was worried that the fallout from the MSC would result                              in another racial riot again. He also realized that many disagreements, both                        political and economic in nature, could not be resolved easily and decided to                          evict Singapore out of the Federation of Malaysia on August 1965.    
  5. 5.   Overview  Merger Separation Problems and        Solutions  → Economic issues → further strained the relations between state and Federal                        government; add on to the tension  ­ ​Delay in setting up common market → Singapore relied on the establishment of                            Common Market in order to revive Singapore’s stagnating economy  ●  Federal government did not remove tariffs imposed on Singapore­made goods                    exported to the Peninsula.  ●  This measure was taken by the Federal government in order to protect the                          industries in other states in Peninsular Malaysia.  ­ Federal Finance Minister Tan Siew Sin wanted Singapore to ​pay more percentage of                            revenue to Federal government (40% to 60%)  ●  Reason for the increase: Due to Konfrontasi, defence and internal security                      budget had to be increased. Singapore and other states need to play their part in                              ensuring and protecting the sovereignty of Malaysia.  ●  However, the PAP government in Singapore felt it was unfair as Singapore was                          collecting less revenue due to the trade embargo placed by Indonesian                      government on Indonesian exports to Singapore.  ­ Federal Finance Minister Tan Siew Sin demanded the ​closure of Bank of China  ●  Tan Siew Sin wanted the Singapore state government to close down the Bank of                            China because it was believed to fund pro­Communist activities  ●  The PAP government was not willing to close down the bank as it would affect                              Chinese businesses greatly  ●  This further strained the relations between State and Federal governments     → Social tension → as a result of political rivalry and tension between Federal and                              State governments (PAP versus UMNO­MCA­MIC Alliance)  ­ ​1964 Racial riots  ●  The racial riots in Singapore in 1964 were the consequences of the political                          rivalry between the PAP and UMNO/Alliance.  ●  Due to Alliance’s defeat in the SLA and the PAP’s entry into Malaysian politics                            during the 1964 Federal elections, the UMNO leaders began to organize                      anti­PAP campaigns by publishing sensitive articles in Utusan Melayu, a Malay                      language newspaper, in a bid to win back Malay votes.  ●  One issue that was highlighted by UMNO and the Utusan Melayu was the                          housing resettlement programme initiated by the PAP government in Singapore.  ●  The PAP government wanted to redevelop the areas of Crawford, Kampong                      Glam and Rochor, and 2500 families had to be relocated, among them were 200                            Malay families.  ●  However, Utusan Melayu claimed 2500 Malay families were affected and this                      stirred up feelings of discontentment among the Malays towards the PAP                     
  6. 6.   Overview  Merger Separation Problems and        Solutions  government  ●  On 12 July 1964 UMNO’s Secretary General, Syed Ja’far Albar, made a speech                          to 150 Malay organizations in Singapore to criticize the PAP government for                        neglecting the interests of the Malays in Singapore and caused the majority to                          remain in poverty.  ●  As a response, on 19 July 1964, Lee Kuan Yew, together with the Minister for                              Social Affairs, Othman Wok, met with 900 Malay representatives to ease racial                        tension. Lee Kuan Yew promised the Malay community that the PAP government                        would provide them the necessary assistance in education, housing and                    employment.  ●  On 21 July 1964, during the celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, a                          fight broke out during one of the procession and this built up into a racial riot in                                  Singapore.  ●  The riot claimed 23 lives and injured 454 people.  ●  Leaders from Federal Government and state government put aside their                    differences and toured the island to calm the people. A Goodwill Committee was                          established to restore racial harmony in Singapore.  ●  Another racial riot broke out in September 1964 when a Malay trishaw rider was                            murdered  ●  The occurrences of the 2 racial riots in Singapore traumatized Tunku Abdul                        Rahman and the fear of another outbreak of a racial riot in Singapore due to                              PAP’s Malaysian Solidarity Convention in 1965 convinced Tunku to evict                    Singapore out of the Federation in order to prevent another riot.                                       

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