Independence day Singapore
SINGAPORE. Every year on August 9, Singaporeans get together to celebrate their country’s birthday.
But National Day was not always celebrated on this date – not earlier than the republic became independent in 1965.
From 1960 to 1963, Singapore’s National Day was celebrated on June 3 to commemorate the day in 1959 when Singapore gained self-government.
Six decades ago, June 3 was the day Singapore adopted its own constitution and, for the first time in its history, became an internally self-governing state (the British still had the ultimate say on foreign affairs, namely defence and international affairs).
The National Archives of Singapore (NAS) recorded this momentous day as “nation-building”. “On June 3, 1959, 1.6 million people in Singapore awoke to a new beginning – as the people of a fully internal, self-governing city-state under the British crown,” reads its website.
In an interview with CNA, historian Albert Lau said that this date was an important milestone in the history of Singapore. “The achievement of self-government sent an important signal that Singapore still needs an extra boost to achieve its goal of liberation from colonial rule,” said an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore.
1959 GE: THE MOMENT OF “MASS POLICY” ACHIEVED.
A general election in 1959 was supposed to determine who will lead Singapore in this new period of internal self-government, but this was also important for another reason: it was the first time that voting was made mandatory.
Ngozi Wen-Qing, an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University, told CNA that this is the moment when “mass politics” reached Singapore.
According to the Chronicle of Singapore, a book published jointly with the National Library Council of Singapore, 51 seats were offered in this election, and the PAP fought for them against the likes of the Singapore People’s Alliance (SPA), led by Chief Minister Lim Yoo Hock, United Malay National Organization (Smart ) and the Workers’ Party, founded by David Marshall, Singapore’s first chief minister.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, in his memoir A Singapore Story, says the polls were closed at 8 pm on May 30, 1959, and the vote count began at 9 pm and ended at 2:45 am the next day.
Ultimately, PAP won 43 of the 51 contested seats, while SPA won four – including Lim’s successful fight against Marshall at Cairnhill – and Cleverly finished three. The remaining place was taken by the independent A.P. Raja.
In the immediate aftermath of the election victory, Mr Li and his colleagues focused on securing the release of eight people associated with PAPs who were detained under the Public Security Law. This meant that Mr Li and his cabinet would not be sworn in until June 5th.
The eight men were K.V. Devan Nair (third President of Singapore), Lim Chin Xiong, Fong Su Xuan, S. Woodhull, Chan Tiav Tor, James Puthyuri, Chan Chong Keen and Chen Sai James.
These were the union leaders who were among the 234 people detained by the government in 1956 following the riots in China’s high school. As a result, they were released on June 4, 31 months after their arrest.
In his memoir, Mr Li shared why the release of the G8 takes precedence before being sworn in: “We did some serious thinking before the election and concluded that Lim Chin Siong and company should be released from prison before being sworn in. how we take office, otherwise we will lose all trust. ”
Dr Ngoe said: “Before the 1959 elections, the PAP promised to release them. And after they won this election, Lee Kuan Yew delayed taking office in order to get this release … so this is important for the authority of the PAP. ”
Sir William Goode, the last governor of Singapore who then became its first Jan di Pertuan Negara (head of state), did not agree with the delay, especially after Lim Yoo Hock resigned from his post as chief minister when he learned that his party lost the election. But Mr Lee stood his ground.
Sir William, however, would not wait. He promulgated and enacted a new constitution on June 3. This is why there was a two-day delay between the recognition of Singapore as a self-governing state and the swearing-in of new leaders.