Thursday, September 16, 2010

Truth behind expulsion of Singapore from Malaysia

While I respect Lee Kuan Yew for his intellect, leadership and astute management of Singapore into what the Island State is today, a 1st World nation of immense wealth, I don’t his egotism.

I was also very much disappointed to discover in his autobiography his coo-ing over an honours award (The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George) by the Queen of Britain. My esteem of him immediately took a dive on learning that this near superman could/would even be thrilled by a mere meaningless trinket handed down to a former colonial by a foreign monarchy.

So … he is not the complete super great man after all.

LKY, the egoist he is, regaled us via the New York Times on how different things might have been if “the Tunku had kept us together”, referring to the expulsion of Singapore from Malaysia – yup, ‘twas expulsion and not separation - Malaysiakini Terence Netto agreed on this fact in his article Two different versions of Singapore's expulsion.

LKY pontificated: “Well, first I regret having been turfed out of Malaysia. I think if the Tunku had kept us together, what we did in Singapore, had Malaysia accepted a multiracial base for their society, much of what we’ve achieved in Singapore would be achieved in Malaysia. But not as much because it’s a much broader base. We would have improved inter-racial relations and an improved holistic situation.”

“Now we have a very polarised Malaysia, Malays, Chinese and Indians in separate schools, living separate lives and not really getting on with one another. You read them. That’s bad for us as close neighbours.”

While there’s much truth in what he said in the second paragraph, I doubt keeping Singapore in Malaysia would have the outcome LKY claimed in the first paragraph, but then it’s his usual ego talking.

There was a different and perfectly good reason for Tunku Abdul Rahman to expel Singapore from the Malaysian union just a mere two years after its formation, a merger which led to both Konfrontasi with Indonesia and an acrimonious relationship with the Philippines. The former wanted the entire Kalimantan Island, while the latter wanted Sabah.

The truth of the root cause for Singapore’s expulsion was in fact LKY the politician. There’s never any doubt LKY was super intelligent, a double starred first class honours from Cambridge. But one can only be too clever by half in a Malayan environment because the style of his assertive and aggressive politicking didn’t go down well with Malay culture and its more genteel style of politics. Tunku was also aware of his covert (though well-known) intention to replace MCA in the Perikatan (the BN’s predecessor coalition).

The Malay right wingers were getting so heated up with LKY that Tunku thought a cooling period, via a ‘temporary’ expulsion of Singapore, would be good for everyone.

Tunku imagined that Singapore outside of Malaysia would be so helpless alone by itself that LKY would come crawling back, begging to be let in again, though this time on Tunku’s terms. That was Tunku's plan.

When LKY had no further choice but to accept the expulsion he actually broke down during a televised press conference, stating emotionally:

"For me, it is a moment of anguish. All my life, my whole adult life, I ... I believed in Malaysian merger and unity of the two territories. You know that we, as a people are connected by geography, economics, by ties of kinship ... It broke everything we stood for ....... "

But LKY, despite his initial consternation over the expulsion, did not fall to pieces. Au contraire, he must be admired for his resolve to stay out, stay steadfast, strategize and systematically develop Singapore into a prosperous nation.

To be frank, if LKY (and Singapore) was allowed to remain in Malaysia, May 13 would have happened much much earlier.

But it must be said that Penangites (then mostly Chinese) didn’t take well to him. He must have imagined he could win over the predominantly Chinese Island State in his 1964 campaign but in many ways, he was a lot like Anwar Ibrahim, an interesting political curiosity but not well trusted. His PAP campaign turned out to be a flop in Penang.

Actually LKY wasn’t all that popular in Singapore too because prior to Malaysia, he was outflanked and would have been outvoted by the pro-communist Barisan Socialis.

We are told that 35 of the 51 branches of PAP and 19 of its 23 organising secretaries went over to the Barisan Sosialis. His government lost a couple of by-elections to the Barisan Sosialis, and was near to monumental defeat.

LKY quickly seized on Tunku's concept of merger for Singapore, Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak as a successful campaign to remove British colonialism (a popular factor with Singaporeans), and with that, to defeat the Barisan Socialis.

In other words it was the concept of Malaysia which saved him from being trounced by the pro-communist party, and possibly being reduced into a political nobody. What a frightening thought for Malaysia if the communists had taken hold of Singapore, when there was a pro communist Indonesia under madman Soekarno.

To be continued ...


  1. do you know why tunku chose 16 september for malaysia day? because that's old LKY birthday! (tunku admitted this, it's all from the book ousted)
    damn, why tunku compromise with that loose cannon, now we have all malaysians celebrate for him.

    shit! that's reason why razak and hussein onn and mahathir don want to have this day as holiday.

  2. The Day Singapore Became An Independent Republic

  3. ktemoc,
    No doubt that Barisan Sosialis is far more popular. However, Tunku was frighten with the propect of having a sosialis state seperated by 2km causeway. You woudl have known that Penang's local government is under the hands of Sosialis Front.
    No man is perfect, anyway. However, you also have forgotten few strong lieutenants around. Rajaratnam, Toh Chin Chye & Goh Keng Swee.....They are equally strong.
    One thing, Tunku did mess up in Singapore by contesting in a disastrous 1964 GE in singapore....LKY's lost is due to 2 things. The splitup between various parties including labour party & socialis front & soekarno

  4. * "While I respect ... his intellect, leadership and astute management ... I don't his egotism."

    Well, cut him some slack for his egotism. His achievements are impressive and held in awe by a whole lot of people. Very few leaders can pull off what he and his team did - the world knows that, he himself knows that. You can say he has earned it, and, therefore, entitled to it.

    * "I was also very much disappointed to discover in his autobiography his coo-ing over an honours award (The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George) by the Queen of Britain. My esteem of him immediately took a dive on learning that this near superman could/would even be thrilled by a mere meaningless trinket handed down to a former colonial by a foreign monarchy."

    Well said there, KT. No doubt many people share your view. "It's just vanity, a chasing after the wind." I'm sure you know where this quote comes from.

    This is an excellent commentary and you deserve applause. Clap, clap, clap. Looking forward to the next instalment. But you can be sure there will be some from among your readers who disagree with your views, naturally!

    Now, let me get up close and personal with ya! You know, if I were the head of a political party (but, of course, I am not), I'm sure gonna subsume you as my strategist and thinker. Your incisive analytic talent should be a great asset to the organization.

    Hope those words don't turn you egotistic! ;-)

  5. Following which ... comes the following:

    Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

    For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

  6. KT: I'd recommend you to read the Fajar Generation (if you have not already done so) to view S'pore politics from the other side. The Barisan Sosialist are NOT pro communists which was what the colonialist masters would want us to believe. LKY was a stooge for the British colonialists that was why he put away more than 120 of his political foes under Operation Cold Store (remember Ops Lallang? Same tactic, same reasons given to put away one's political opponents). These are the same people who were with him during the formative years of the PAP but they drifted in poltical ideology goals later. The Barisan Sosialis were anti colonialinism and wanted self rule while the whiter than white PM thought otherwise. Like they said, the rest is history but unfortunately, history is usually written by the victors.

  7. Yes I agree. But we need to remember those times (Cold War days) were not conducive to the political (socialist) stand of the Barisan Socialis. Socialism was pink while Communism was red, so the perception by conservatives that both were the same wasn't surprising. It's also true that the Brits and indeed Malaya preferred a conservative hardliner like LKY than one from the BS

  8. Dear KT, please kindly update your entry the part regarding "pro-communist" Barisan Socialis. This is the lie LKY cooked up to justify his actions. By echoing his lie, you're doing injustice to the people who fought for what the country deserve and for all the years they were being locked up without knowing why. Wait, they do know why, but who can they tell?

  9. KT: Just to add on, Soekarno collaborated with the communists to fight for independence from Dutch rule. They (the communists) were the only group who share this struggle with him. Just like the MNLF of pre-independence Malaya. Communism was a "dirty" word during those times and the colonialists in Indon and Malaya/Singapore will use the excuse of communism to exterminate anybody threatening their power.
    For more details of the Socialist movement of that times, pls visit the website here:

    You can browse thru some of the postings there. I had the privilege of having dinner and sharing interesting conversations with some of these veteran socialists when they were in Penang early this year. They are anything but pro-communist.

  10. The history books are now opening up...


    Also, Saturday June 26, 2010
    Goh the architect of separation

    Singaporeans were surprised to learn that it was Dr Goh Keng Swee – and not Lee Kuan Yew - who played the pivotal role in taking Singapore out of Malaysia, resulting in an independent country.

    AS new generations in Singapore and Malaysia work for a closer partnership, a bit of the past history has popped up to baffle some old-timers here. It involved the question of who in Singapore really made the decision for the break-up with Malaysia in 1965.

    Until recently, the majority had thought that Lee Kuan Yew, the chief engineer who had navigated Singapore into it, was also pivotal in pulling it out when relations became intolerable. Not so, according to the 86-year-old Minister Mentor.

    In his eulogy at his late former deputy leader Dr Goh Keng Swee’s funeral, Lee said the decision for a “clean break” was actually made by Dr Goh, who was tasked to negotiate with Kuala Lumpur.
    Founding fathers: Tunku Abdul Rahman and Lee Kuan Yew (left) on their return from the London talks on the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in November 1962.

    “I did not want this, and asked Keng Swee to work towards a looser federation,” Lee told surprised Singaporeans.

    “In his talks with Tun (Abdul) Razak, then Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, and (Tun) Dr Ismail (Abdul Rahman), then Malaysia’s Minister for External Affairs and Minister for Home Affairs, Keng Swee decided it was best to separate.

    “He decided that the best alternative was a clean break ... I had to agree,” Lee added.

    (In his memoirs, Lee said he found out that Dr Goh “never pressed Razak for a looser rearrangement as I had asked him to ... he knew they wanted Singapore out of their Parliament and went along with their desire to have us hive off”.)

    All this is now water under the bridge but the disclosure has raised questions about how important a role Dr Goh really played in Singapore’s history.

    According to Associate Professor of Political Science, Hussin Mutalib, from what Lee revealed, that role appeared more significant than so far believed. This was because Lee’s remarks had suggested the break-up was decided unilaterally at the crucial moment by Dr Goh, against the proposition of Lee and even the collective Cabinet.

    The National University of Singapore academician observed that Lee had said that the key Malaysian leaders agreed to Dr Goh’s break-up proposal.

    “This would imply that it may well have been Singapore which precipitated the idea of separation, rather than Malaysia, as has been the notion all this while,” Hussin said.

    Singaporeans were surprised to learn that it was Dr Goh – and not Lee - who played the pivotal role in taking Singapore out of Malaysia, resulting in an independent country.

    It has set tongues wagging. “Why did Lee talk about it now after so many years, and only after Goh’s death?

    “Like others, I had always thought Lee was the main player,” a retired teacher said. “Does it mean that if he had been negotiating, instead of Goh, Singapore would today still be in Malaysia?”

  11. Much as the Singaporeans like to now rewrite history to show they left on their own decision rather than were expelled, the truth was that Malaysia (Tunku and cabinet) kicked them out ... for the reason I've written.

    If they are attempting to salvage pride, they should consider that the expulsion turned out to be a blessing in disguise for them because they are now better off than they would be had they remained in Malaysia.

    1. Many of us are just curious to know the events that lead up to our separation especially after what lky said at goh keng swee's funeral. We have no intention to rewrite history but we do want do want to know if it was portrayed that way for lkys politician gain as he had always maintained that he had believed in a union.

      For Singaporeans we prefer the history of being booted out of malaysia against our will as it gives us a bigger sense of national pride to achieve so much more than the same country that forced us into independence. It wouldn't have been as sweet if we had been the ones who wanted an independent Singapore. What we have built since that day is akin to showing tungku and Malaysia a rude gesture. Lastly, many, if not all, Singaporeans believe that the best thing that ever happened to Singapore was to be kicked out of malaysia.

    2. it's true that Tunku told LKY to take Singapore out of Malaysia

  12. Good stuff... thanks for the update.

  13. You see, leaders are trained to be liars..

  14. Malaysia kicked out Singapore to maintain political powers amongst the elite Malays. Basically Malaysia left Singapore for dead. Surprisingly, Singapore did not only survived, but it thrived. If Singapore wasn't kicked to the curb, it will be a shit hole just like Malaysia is now.

    1. You are absolutely right about Malaysia being a shit hole now. There isn't a day I can wake up and not be worried about getting robbed in a shopping mall car park or while filling up at a petrol station. There isn't a night when I can go to sleep and not be worried about scums breaking into my home or office.

      Mind you, I pay the highest tier of taxes and to add to that, monthly security fees.

      Why am I still in constant fear? Thanks to political bigots who are extremely corrupted and are robbing the country back to the stone age. They make short term decisions to fatten their wallets as if there was no future.

      Damn them!

  15. "I was also very much disappointed to discover in his autobiography his coo-ing over an honours award (The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George) by the Queen of Britain. My esteem of him immediately took a dive on learning that this near superman could/would even be thrilled by a mere meaningless trinket handed down to a former colonial by a foreign monarchy."

    If you think of him like that, how bout trying to get that award yourself? (if you can).

  16. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was an extraordinary intelligent man. He was among the many great politicians in Singapore who were sincere, had enormous faith and were very concientious. He was a devouted statesman, a devouted father and very devouted husband.
    Singapore was expelled from Malaysia due to the naiveity and ignorance of Tunku. It was a power struggle.
    Tunku was afraid of LKY. Remember LKYs speech at the parliament in Malaysia?Even the Tunku could have never spoken such a fluent Malay!!! LKY was a threat to Malaysia. LKY wanted a muti-racial society but Tunku wanted absolutely a Malay society.
    LKY was devasteted because he left behind so many behind in Malaysia and that he could not keep the promises he made regarding the merger.
    Thanks God, What a relief! Compare your BNP and Singapores BNP today. Singapore has the best airport in the world and currently the world's second-busiest port. Low crime level and 80% of the population own their homes. What more do we want?
    Thank you Mr. Lee for sacrificing your life for us. We are forever obligated to you forever.

    1. Missy, he is indeed a great man and Singapore owes everything to him but please read about Chia Thye Poh, who was an MP for Jurong, who was lock up without trial longer than Nelson Mandela himself. From that you can form your own opinion on the other side of Mr. Lee which is not often mentioned. Chia was a young man of 26 when he was locked up and when released he was an old man. It is indeed very sad and makes you wonder if he could have been realeased much earlier.... You may also want to read about the founder of PAP who was also locked up at about the same time named Lim Hock Siew. He was the actual founder of PAP, contrary to the general believe that Mr. Lee was the founder.

      These two men was locked up without trial, being accused of being communist, which was proven by the British to be untrue as they could find no evidence.

      There are lot of articles written on them but you can start from the links below;

  17. you may not like it but Tunku kicked Singapore out. At that time LKY cried.

  18. From Wiki:

    On 7 August 1965, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, seeing no alternative to avoid further bloodshed, advised the Parliament of Malaysia that it should vote to expel Singapore from Malaysia.[2] Despite last-ditch attempts by PAP leaders, including Lee Kuan Yew, to keep Singapore as a state in the union, the Parliament on 9 August 1965 voted 126–0 in favor of the expulsion of Singapore, with Members of Parliament from Singapore not present. On that day, a tearful Lee announced that Singapore was a sovereign, independent nation and assumed the role of Prime Minister of the new nation. His speech included this quote: "For me it is a moment of anguish because all my life….you see the whole of my adult life…. I have believed in merger and the unity of these two territories. You know it's a people connected by geography, economics, and ties of kinship... ."