Government and Politics in Southeast Asia

By John Funston | Go to book overview

8
SINGAPORE
Meritocratic City-State

Jon S.T. Quah


INTRODUCTION

Singapore was governed by the British for nearly 140 years, from its founding by Stamford Raffles in January 1819 until its attainment of selfgovernment in June 1959. In July 1926, Singapore became part of the Straits Settlements together with Malacca and Penang. The pre-colony phase ended in 1867 when control of the Straits Settlements passed from the India Office to the Colonial Office. British colonial rule was briefly interrupted by the Japanese occupation (February 1942–August 1945). Singapore became a crown colony in 1946 and its constitutional status was changed to a ministerial form of government under the Rendel Constitution in 1955.

The first general election held in April 1955 resulted in the formation of the Labour Front coalition government under the leadership of David Marshall. The People’s Action Party (PAP) government assumed office in June 1959 after winning 43 of the 51 seats in the May 1959 general election and capturing 54.1 per cent of the valid votes. On 16 September 1963, Singapore achieved independence from Britain by becoming one of the 14 states of the Federation of Malaysia. However, Singapore’s sojourn in the Federation was brief as after 23 months, it separated from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, and became the 117th member of the United Nations on 21 September 1965.

Even though Singapore has been independent for the past 35 years, there has been no change in government during this period as the PAP government was re-elected nine times. Lee Kuan Yew served as Prime Minister from June 1959 until November 1990, when he became Senior Minister and was succeeded by Goh Chok Tong. This change in political

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Government and Politics in Southeast Asia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Contributors ix
  • Preface x
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Brunei Malay, Monarchical, Micro-State 1
  • 2 - Cambodia after the Killing Fields 36
  • 3 - Indonesia Transforming the Leviathan 74
  • 4 - Laos Timid Transition 120
  • 5 - Malaysia Developmental State Challenged 160
  • 6 - Myanmar Military in Charge 203
  • 7 - Philippines Continuing People Power 252
  • 8 - Singapore Meritocratic City-State 291
  • 9 - Thailand Reform Politics 328
  • 10 - Vietnam Doi Moi Difficulties 372
  • Conclusion 411
  • Index 425
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