Edited by Anis Chowdhury and Iyanatul Islam
Chapter 4: Singapore
Chia Siow Yue A short political history Singapore is a small island and city-state. It has a land area of 699 square kilometres and a total population of 4.3 million. It has no natural resources except for a strategic geographical location astride the major shipping route linking East Asia and Oceania to Europe. Yet Singapore has achieved substantial and visible economic and social progress since political independence in 1965. Per capita income reached S$41 513 in 2004, one of the highest in Asia. The UNDP ranked Singapore twenty-ﬁrst in per capita GDP and twenty-ﬁfth in the Human Development Index in 2003.1 The World Competitiveness Yearbook 2005 ranked Singapore as the third most competitive economy in the world.2 The history of modern Singapore began in 1819 when Stamford Raﬄes of the British East India Company annexed the island and established it as a free port. The island was reported to have only 150 inhabitants. The free port grew with immigration and became the entrepot of Southeast Asia and a British military base in the Far East. Singapore fell to the Japanese during World War II. In the post-war period, political parties emerged in the anti-colonial struggle. The People’s Action Party (PAP) under Lee Kuan Yew won the May 1959 general elections and formed the ﬁrst national government of Singapore. The PAP had three main agendas – merging with Malaysia, ﬁghting communism and communalism, and reviving the economy. The PAP campaigned hard for merger and Singapore joined the Federation...
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