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The History Of Singapore: From A British Colony To A Multi-Racial Utopia



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In 1819, British statesman Stamford Raffles negotiated a treaty whereby Johor allowed the British to locate a trading port on the island, leading to the establishment of the crown colony of Singapore in 1819. The Colony of Singapore or simply Singapore was a British Crown colony that existed from 1946 to 1963.

A Brief History of Singapore

Singapore was the second of the Malay States (jointly with Brunei) to form a federation with the British. The treaty was signed in the town of Pasir Panjang, on August 7, 1824, and it resulted in the establishment of the Johor-Riau-Lingga (Jingjah) Federation or Jermaniau-Lingga Federation. The mission of the new Federation was to establish a strong and powerful base for the protection of the interests of Malay traders in the Malay Peninsula, the Malay Archipelago, and China. The federation was headed by a sultan as head of state, and a British Resident as the head of the civil administration. The capital of the Jermaniau-Lingga Federation was Johor Baru (Johor), later renamed in English to Singapore.

The Founding of Singapore

British China Scholar PG Wodehouse (best known as P. G. Wodehouse) who published Singapore-A History in 1951, mentions Singapore’s founding as a British colonial territory as follows: “The story of Singapore is simple enough: the Governor, thinking it necessary to establish a trading port in the China Seas, sent emissaries to China to seek trade partners. These parties returned and brought with them two main things – a piece of paper and an ox. This paper, to symbolize the sovereignty of the Company, was drawn up at a ‘dragon-hunting banquet at which twelve warriors of good repute stood guard over the document. The ox, a charge of which the two officials had to pay, was borne by the Governor to a hunting lodge in Burma.

The Formation of Singapore

Johor was a vast area that consisted of peninsular Malaysia, while Singapore was a small island that sat directly south of the Malay Peninsula. Singapore was considered a backwater, which spurred a desire from the British government to have a trading port in Singapore. Raffles was a member of the British colonial elite who was in Singapore in 1819. During his time in Singapore, he traveled around the island and witnessed the food and natural environment that Singapore was blessed with. He also observed that the thriving port in Singapore was incredibly prosperous, and so he, therefore, decided to use this as a foundation of his plans to build a trading post in Singapore. Raffles’ “order of the day” was to attract an influx of settlers into Singapore, hence the establishment of a colony.

The Independence of Singapore

On August 9, 1965, Singapore gained independence from the British. This means that the British colony (Singapore) became independent, a British territory, which continued to be dominated by the British until 1973 when the three-year period of Malaysian rule ended and Singapore became a self-governing and independent state under British rule until 1974 when it became a republic. Why do we care? On February 23, 1959, seven officers in the military, including army commander Brigadier S.R. Nathan, Captain T.K. Bin, Major Chia Kwang Chye, Lieutenant-Colonel Low Thia Khiang, and Major Datuk Hj.


It is imperative that you understand the history of Singapore as there will come a time when the country will no longer be able to stand on its own two feet as a sovereign country and more so, as a colony of the British. Our love for this country cannot and should not go unchallenged as its national history is, in truth, littered with the atrocious and unforgivable atrocities committed by colonialists on the indigenous people of this nation. The above overview gives you a broader understanding of the history of Singapore and how it came to be as we know it today and serves as a compass for planning your vacation to the country. If you have any questions about the history of Singapore, be sure to ask your travel agent, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions too.

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