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"the Singapore Identity Was Formed During the Formative and Momentous Years of the Island's Participation Between 1963 and 1965." Discuss.

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"The Singapore identity was formed during the formative and momentous years of the island's participation between 1963 and 1965." Discuss.

The years between 1963 and 1965 were particularly important for Singapore because it marked the transition of Singapore becoming a state of Malaysia and subsequently within a short span of 2 years broke away to gain her ultimate independence as a nation state. Both the merger and separation was to subsequently provide momentous impact on Singapore and the consequences of which were far reaching and impactful. In this essay, I shall attempt to argue that the Singaporean national identity was starting to take shape during this tumultuous period, however real identity could only be formulated upon independence as a single political entity by itself after 1965. It must also be mentioned that the Singapore identity in this context, means to me anidentity as a nation, anideal in which Singaporeans feel a sense of nationhood and patriotism towards the state.

My perception towards the issue is that fact that formulating an identity is a continuous process that is usually changed by events of imminent natures and concretized in a way by mostly hall mark events. As such, "nation building can be said that nation building is a protracted process of political integration that always remains unfinished, even when the nation has gained its own independent state" My stand is that because of the precarious situation that Singapore was forced to endure during these 2 years, the Singapore identity thus began to unfold and manifest itself. Before which Singapore believed herself to be part of a Pan-Malaysian state but after 1965, she was left standing on her own. It can be said that, National Identity in Singapore was mostly propagated by the state and also from an innate fear within Singaporeans that they were left to fend on their own, after the hasty separation.

The Singapore Identity in this instance ties closely with what is better defined as the national identity of Singaporeans. This idea is encompassed within the classification of nationhood, which encompasses having some semblance of patriotism and belonging to some social group. As coined adequately by Anderson (1983), "The nation comprises of an imagined community because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion" . Nation identity is more often that not, concretized during a turbulent period of the country's history in which upon external and internal pressure, psychologically binds the people closer as one social-political unit.

National identity can be further sub-divided into the civic identity was well as the governmental identity. The former encompasses more the civilian's idea of nationhood and how patriotic they feel towards their country. The latter however, encompasses more of existence of a government form that is sovereign and wields power in the international scene. I have subdivided the two forms of national identity because I believe that during the years of Singapore's merger and subsequent separation both identities were thus shaped in different ways and forms.

For the case of Singapore, I would argue that the Singaporean political identity was formulated during the period between separation and merger, whereas civic Singaporean identity was only starting to take shape after 1965 after much effort by the ruling party, in bid to strength Singapore psychologically as a nation state, mostly for pragmatic reasons. I would say that the years between the separation and the merger concretized the political Singaporean identity of Singapore, because for the first time in history, Singapore was regarded as a sovereign independent state and no longer a colony of Britain or part of the Malayan Union. It was only during this time, that Singapore had to fend for itself as a single political entity. As mentioned by Lee Kwan Yew, "separation was between kith and kin." Thus in the political arena, the years before the merger had indeed helped to shape the political ideology and identity of Singapore as an autonomous state for the first time ever. Thus the political identity can be said to be radically transformed, no longer was the political party government by the federal government in Kuala Lumpur but rather the ruling political party was given a larger stake.

Another argument that strengths my point that Singapore's political identity was strengthened during this period of time was the fact that "PAP (People's action party, the then ruling party of Singapore) had consistently and fervently campaigned for independence through merger, and it was never believed during that time that Singapore could survive politically without a hinterland." . Bearing this in mind, the separation thus caused a massive change and shock to the political parties of Singapore at that point in time. Their political identity can now need not to be compromised to suit the communal politics of Malaysia, but rather an entity that favored the Singapore political, economic and social arena can be deployed instead. Against this political back drop, it can be said that Singapore politics can now take a more meritocratic and pragmatic stance in which, pro Malay policies need not be strongly advocated as previously done in bid to placate Malayan politics. Thus Singaporean politics could not be carried more representatively of the huge Chinese population within her soil. This move I believe changed the political identity of Singapore into one that is communal to one that is more meritocratic and multi-racially balanced.

Previously, "PAP's vision of a non-communal multi-racial Ð''Malaysian Malaysia' rekindled fears within the federation that Malay privileges would be withdrawn and that the racial arithmetic might be turned against the Malays if the PAP should gain ascendancy. (Yeo and Lau, 1991:147). Thus, against such a backdrop, during the period of union with Malaysia, Singapore increasingly fought against this pro-Malay policy and strived towards one that was more equitable to all its races. This political mindset I believed was shaped at a time in which, Singaporeans felt that their politics must not be governed along ethnic lines in order to promote peace and harmony. This was, I believe a policy in which the government identified with till this very day. Thus it would be correct to say that the political identity of Singapore took shape as the government decided for itself how they wanted the country to be ruled.

The Singapore political identity was strengthened during this period, as merger was seen to be a necessity and not something



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