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Centre of South East Asian Studies

Merger, Acquisition, or Takeover? Singapore's Progressive Left, the Creation of Malaysia, and the Enduring Consequences of Operation Coldstore

THIS EVENT IS ARCHIVED
P J Thum

Date: 21 January 2014Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 21 January 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei GalleryRoom: B102

Type of Event: Seminar

Series: CSEAS Seminar Programme

Abstract 

The merger of Federation of Malaya and Singapore in 1963 originated from Singapore’s domestic political difficulties. The nature of these difficulties, however, has never been adequately understood; due to a paucity of sources, communist subversion has been generally uncritically accepted as its root, and Operation Coldstore presented as the solution to a security problem. Using newly declassified documents and a mix of vernacular sources, this seminar will analyse the domestic political factors that inspired Singapore’s merger with the Federation. It demonstrates how a combination of internal party strife and a decline in popularity led the People’s Action Party to seek to restore their political authority, via achieving the widely popular but extremely difficult goal of the reunification of Malaya; it presents the perspective of Singapore's progressive left and situates them in the narrative of merger; it explains why – despite a complete lack of evidence for any communist subversive activity – communist subversion was blamed for necessitating merger; and shows how the process of the negotiation of Coldstore sowed the seeds for Singapore’s separation from Malaysia. It concludes with a discussion of the continuing consequences of how Coldstore continues to define the contours of Singapore politics today.

Organiser: Centres & Programmes Office

Contact email: centres@soas.ac.uk

Contact Tel: 020 7898 4892/3