Recounts Of The Birth Of Singapore

Who / Year
How it started
When the reign ended
Why he left

Sejarah Melayu
Seri Teri Buana, Prince of Palembang / 1299
Decided to stay after he saw the merlion and renamed Temasek as Singapura After 5 generations / 1396

Last king, Iskandar Shah betrayed by his official who opened the gates for invading Javanese forces Portuguese recounts
Parameswara, Prince of Palembang / 1392

Fled Majapahit forces despatched to crush the rebellion he staged After 4 years / 1396 Assassinated host who welcomed him. Fled the ensuing Thai forces set to avenge for the dead ruler

Accounts on the birth of Singapura
Sejarah Melayu
Portuguese accounts
“Singapura as an auspicious location, a new city to be established”

1299: Seri Teri Buana leaves Palembang, arrives, discovered and renamed the place as Singapura

Ends his reign after 48 years when he died, succeeded by his son

Reign ended after 5 generations, in 1396

Singapura was powerful and able to challenge Majapahit, the major hegemon in the archipelago

Why singapura had power?
Second ruler of Singapura, son of Seri Teri Buana, married to daughter of Tamil ruler of Kalinga Singapura had standings among the indian kingdoms

Reason for its end: 1396, Last king, Sultan Iskandar Shah was betrayed by one of his officials , to the invading Majapahit

Iskandar Shah fled singapura, went to Melaka to set up a port-city “Singapura as a refuge”

1392: Parameswara arrives after fleeing an unsuccessful uprising against Majapahit in Palembang; he then kills his host, and takes over Singapura

Reason for its end: 1396, Parameswara forced to flee from an invading Thai force sent to avenge the murder of its vassal

Great civilizations of Asia: China, India and Middle East

Affected economic, social and political history of the coastal port-states of Melaka Straits region

How did the port settlements along the Melaka Straits region function? (dependent on trade context)

1. Asian maritime trade involving exchange of goods between states in south china sea and indian ocean One main port in the Melaka straits emerges as the entrepot , the centrifugal point between the markets in these two major Asian economic regions The other ports in the Melaka straits subsumes themselves under this chief entrepot, acting as feeder ports, servicing the chief port’s economic needs, benefitting from the Asian trade directly

2. Trade context differed, no need for chief entrepot port

-ports orientate their economic outlook towards key markets that were closest to them -ports on northern end of MS focused on India and Middle East -ports
on southern end (incl sg) focused on the malay archipelago, mainland SEA and china

-collection centre
-export gateway for products obtainable from immediate area (for South Johor and Riau Arcipelago)
Chinese ceramic and glassware imported by Temasek were similar, glass ware had similar compositions
(Shows that Riau Archipelago was intimately linked to Temasek!)


Singapura comes under Melaka Sultanate. Acts as the home base of the Orang Laut, warriors of the Melaka sultans Parameswara establishes Kingdom of Melaka

Melaka falls to the Portuguese

Last sultan of Melaka establishes Johor Sultanate up the Johor River 1530
Orang Laut chief defends Singapura against Portuguese attacks Series of Portuguese attacks on Johor Sultanate
14th Temasek
Before 990

Chinese ships banned from venturing abroad to trade

宋lifted ban though trade, however, still highly controlled: -ships had to register at the Guangzhou port before they could embark on a journey to SEA maritime market did not expand significantly

trade continued to be facilitated by foreign ships (arab origin) types of goods brought and volume of maritime trade could not be dictated by Chinese market 1079

Malayu at Jambi became premier emporium in the Melaka Straits

1087- 1090

From small volume, high value exotic goods to large volume, low value mundane goods SEA: important source of low value goods (rich in natural resources, geographical proximity) Chinese vessels permitted to go on overseas voyages as long as they have permits and their departure was officially registered by local administration 1127

Temasek one of many ports in the region that emerged to serve Chinese traders Srivijaya loses chief enterpot port position
Expansion of maritime trade and growth of coastal cities under Soong Dynasty 1275
According to Daoyi Zhilue, Temasek specialised in hornbill, lakawood and cotton. (competitive advantage) Temasek served as a trading hub for a regional hinterland Jambi, capital of Srivijaya, sacked by invasion forces. Port-settlements mushroomed along Melaka Straits


Yuan Dynasty encourages maritime trade
Seri Teri Buana arrives
-commanded a large retinue of boat people (Orang Laut)

Wang Dayuan arrives in Temasek and records a Thai invasion that was thwarted by a Chinese mission

Temasek ceded to Melaka in return for annual fixed payment of gold. Temasek’s existence as autonomous port-settlement came to an end Prince from Palembang secured sole rights to conduct trade with Ming court, Melaka became the key port of call Zhu Yuanzhang overthrows Yuan Dynasty and reinstates trade ban

Fort Canning Hill
Main settlement Area

North Bank of the Singapore River
Who inhabited
Royal family, ruling family

What is it used for
Centre of ritual and political activities in Temasek
Location of main settlements and economic activities of Temasek (e.g. trading)

How did it looked like
Artisan Quarters
Lower east slope of hill is the artisan and servants quarters; high concentration of glass fragments, beads, ceramic moulds suggest glass- and jewellery-making Religious site
Higher up east slope, lies remains of a building foundation of religious significance; non-perishable materials were used for the construction

Royal abode

On the northern slope near the summit of the hill was an impressive terrace site likely used to house the ruling family Restricted Space
Royal garden and palace on the hill’s eastern and northern slope were inaccessible to commoners due to salt marches to the west and forest up north

Boundaries / Defence

The royal residency is likely to have a perimeter defence and there is likely to have spatial demarcation to mark out the functions of the spaces Archaeological findings in new Parliament House, Empress Place, Colombo Court Site, Singapore Cricket Club and St. Andrew’s Cathedral revealed: Earthenware

Water containers and cooking pots were mostly made in Singapore.

Coarse Stoneware Ceramics
Storage jars and bottles were entirely imported from aboard. Most likely used to store foodstuff or other smaller ceramic pieces to be carried around

Fine Stoneware and Porcelain

Ceramics were product of kilns in Guangdong and Fujian. Yuan period blue and white porcelain were also recovered

Metal Finds

Copper coins minted during Song period with several minted in Yuan. No coins post-date Yuan. Yuan used paper currency extensively and in Ming, Singapore no longer autonomous port


This form of religious architecture was fairly common throughout island Southeast Asia in the classical period Archaeologists unearthed rare and valuable Chinese ceramics; flexible gold armlets of Javanese-inspired designs near Fort Canning site Occurrence of iron and copper finds only at New Parliament House site suggests metal smelting and working concentrated there Large quantities of storage jar shards from Empress Place and Old Parliament House suggest unloading of trade goods off ships and location of storage facilities Higher concentration of copper coins at New Parliament House, Singapore Cricket club and St. Andrew’s Cathedral suggests trade conducted further inland, away from the harbour and warehouses

Straits of Melaka and Sunda Straits the only two channels connecting the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. Control of the waters around Singapore would have accorded control, security & economic benefits to the power that
was able to project that strategic capability.


As early as 1620s, Ming had the detailed recorded navigational know-how through the Keppel Straits Portuguese also had the knowledge by early 16th Century


Britain took over Dutch territories in Java & Melaka after Dutch loss to France in the war in Europe 1818
Raffles assigned to Sumartra as Lieutenant-Governor
28 Jan 1819
Raffles anchored off St John’s Island
6 Feb 1819
Treaty that gave British rights to set up a factory in exchange for money to Tengku Husain and Temenggong was signed June 1819
Raffles signed further agreements with Husain and Temenggong that regularise the administration of the settlement, limiting their influence on Singapore Oct 1822

1 June 1824
Crawfurd stopped all payments to Husain by alleging that agreements to pay Husain was not legitimate and Husain in return owed the East India Company money. In order to repay the debts, Crawfurd wanted Husain to sign a new treaty that gave up Husain’s power in the island 2 Aug 1824

New treaty signed

Players leading to the establishment of colonial Singapore

Maritime Network
Up till 1923, Singapore was a trading port without a clearly defined hinterland that could only be reached by sea. The economic networks that sustained Singapore operated on an extended sea-lined foreland covering much of Indian Ocean and South China Sea. As a colonial port, Singapore’s trade was predominantly Asian. SEA accounted for a quarter, China 12%. Overland trade with SEA was insignificant, hence Singapore’s position between two oceans was more important than being on the southernmost tip of Asia.

Late nineteenth century: Singapore gradually became a staple port from which Malayan commodities such as tin and rubber were processed and exported to the rest of the world Tin
Demand for tin exploded in 1810 with the introduction of tin cans (also used in American Civil War for preserved food for troops) Tin mining mostly done by Malays prior to nineteenth century Chinese labourers began coming to Malaya after the founding of Pinang to work in tin mines since Malays were reluctant to increase production to meet the rising demand for tin In 1874, British signed the Pangkor Engagement with the Malay sultans to keep law and order through the establishment of a British resident (to protect their investments in the tin industry) Brought abt peace and stability, thus bringing more investments and more Chinese migration 1890, western tin-smelter built by Straits Trading company as a European investment


Development of motor car industry in United States led to establishing of rubber plantations in Malaya Ridley persistently promoted rubber as a cash crop
Discovered how to tap rubber sap without damaging the tree in 1897 1908, despite protests by London agents, british firms in sg banded tgt to start rubber market in singapore 3 years later, Rubber Association handled sale of rubber; Singapore developed into an important international rubber market 1905

Shipping industry developed to serve the new port-city , Colonial government assumed control and development of the port to meet the increasing demand Tanjong Pagar Dock Ordinance began converting into Singapore Harbour Board 1924

Road link between Malaya and Singapore opened, serving the tin, rubber and oil from the Northern hinterland Colonial Singapore experienced early industrialisation as a result of the raw materials that was coming from the North

Proposed Defence / Motivations

1819 – 1827
Series of artillery batteries over the island with a major artillery fort on Pearl’s Hill Singapore was worth defending in view of Dutch threat
– Britain in debt from administering expanding Indian empire, unable to fund the defences – Britain did not perceive the Dutch threat grave enough to improve defences 1843
Protect the entrance to Kallang River, New Harbour at Tanjong Pagar with series of artillery batteries and forts. In view of the opening up of China after the Opium War, Captain Best proposed to beef up defences in Singapore as part of a greater sea lane from Singapore to China. Series of Artillery batteries & forts

Naval squadron from Bengal
Local merchants wanted batteries but were not willing to pay for it / Bengal argued that naval squadron was more effective 1878
Advent of steam ships, Suez Canal and telegraph brought the Empire “closer”. Small conflicts no longer local and could escalate into wider conflicts Major McCullum propose strong naval fleet with secure chain of ports and coaling station as combat support Fortification of Singapore carried out among together with Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, etc. 1921

Far East Fleet to counter an emerging and hostile Japan, and also to protect
interest in SEA and Australia Imperial Conference reviewed and decided with only the construction of a naval base and not a Far East Fleet Construction and fortification of Singapore started in 1923 and completed only in 1938 1945 –

Britain came out of WWII severely weakened but still had an empire to govern. She wanted to de-colonize and bring colonies under the “Commonwealth” umbrella, maintaining a certain influence over them Saw Singapore as an important pivot to combat communism in the region Britain increased defence in Singapore to maintain her military presence in the region
PAP’s English educated members and Indian politicians appealed to workers and unions while Lee Chin Siong’s Chinese roots appealed to the China-born voters who had yet to shed their Chinese chauvinism. As such, PAP won the election against Lim Yew Hock’s Labour Front Britain was unaware of LKY’s agenda behind LKY’s seemingly enigmatic choice of working with the communist despite PAP’s anti-communist ideology

Reasons for Merger
Worries of Merger

Create jobs for an increasing population
In order to sustain declining economy, needed Malaya as a hinterland and Malaya’s consumer market to aid her weakening entrepot Without merger, Singapore unable to rival neighbouring countries’ low production cost and bigger market Politics:

Have to fulfil their electoral promise of delivering independence to Singapore Independence could only be achieved through merger
Financial Singapore wanted to collect all tax revenue within the island and pay an agreed amount to the central government Malaya wanted all tax revenue to be collected centrally and give Singapore what they needed


Singapore was not comfortable with the possibility of relegating to second class citizens in Malaysia; citizenship rights were not ironed out Malaya
Prevent the defeated Malayan Communist Party from using Singapore as a springboard to mount a comeback Sweetener in Brunei, Sarawak and North Borneo  Although Borneo was unhappy, their complains were disregarded by Britain Made North Borneo part of the merger deal to sweeten the deal for Malaya Chinese radicals in Singapore whose violent riots were well-documented Did not want to lose central control over Singapore after merger Britain

Favoured merger to keep communism in the region in check
Has vested interest in Singapore in their established military base, hence did not want Singapore to turn to communism

1954 – 1955
Number of Chinese riots and clashes including the Hock Lee Riots and Chinese students over the new National Service Ordinance 1959
PAP won election with help of Left-Wing radicals Lim Chin Siong and Feng Swee Suan

Singapore granted self-governance by the British
May 1961
Tunku announced contemplation to bring Singapore, Borneo, Brunei & Sarawak under the Malaysia Jul 1961
PAP loses second by-elections in Anson engineered by the Communist Aug 1961
13 PAP rebels formed the Barisan Sosialis which opposed merger Sep 1961
Broad agreements to the merger reached, working committees to be formed to iron out details of merger “before June 1963” Sep 1962
Singaporeans vote for merger in the National Referendum
Feb 1963
Operation Coldstore arrests key left-wing and presumably pro-Communist
leaders Jul 1963
Final negotiations in London in search of compromise in financial arrangements & a common market Sep 1963
New Federation of Malaysia with Singapore

PAP wins elections in Singapore despite UMNO’s participation Nov 1964
First Malaysian Budget unveiled, DPM Goh calculated that Singapore’s taxpayers contributed to 39.8% of the budget even though it had 17% of the population of Malaysia Singapore saw tax on diesel oil and sugar

Jul 1964
Malay-Chinese race riots, Syed Ja’afar Albar flamed LKY on different mediums Apr 1964
PAP registered as a Malaysian political party to run against UMNO led alliance and won one seat, threatening UMNO’s political position Feb 1965
Talks on disengaging Kuala Lumpar from Singapore was stopped by Britain May 1965
In the inaugural Malaysian Solidarity Convention, LKY challenged UMNO’s policies for solving Malay’s poverty; argued for a Malaysian Malaysia where race does not play a part Direct challenge to UMNO-led alliance that was split between racial lines Jun 1965

Goh Keng Swee and Tun Razak held secret talks on separation without Britain knowing Aug 1965


After 1965
Resumed industrialisation, welcoming FDI in Singapore that was not possible under Malaysia Resumed Indonesian barter trade that was not possible due to Malaysia-Indonesian relations Trade in traditional produce – tin, rubber and rice – gave way to trade in petroleum, petroleum products, shipbuilding and services Bank of China kept institutions in existence

Sing dollars came into existence

Longue Duree Problems
Respond / Results
Lack of Sense of Belonging
Singapore has been an immigration haven, population comprised of immigrants, descendants of immigrants who had been living and working within their respective ethnic groups Different groups of people with diverse language, historical and cultural background meant that they did not have a sense of belonging in Singapore People had no stake it Singapore

Create a common identity, shared experience in WWII
Espoused principles of Equality, Meritocracy, multiracialism and multiculturalism 1967, introduced NS, fostering sense of Nationhood
Resettlement program offers cheap housing raising standard of living of Singaporeans tremendously, it also provided Singaporeans with a stake in the country

Small town Defence
Was very vulnerable fresh out of separation, threats from Indonesian Konfrontation, Malaysia, etc  intended to rely on British military presence but they withdrew in 1971 Chinese country in a Malay region

Deterrence is Singapore’s best form of defence
 poison shrimp – porcupine – dolphin
1971, ASEAN was established to serve the need for regional corporation in matters to foreign affairs Singapore befriended global powers like the US
Powerful friends + Local defences
Entrepot trade susceptible to global swings
Singapore’s economy is one of a staple port that supported the primary economy of a large rural hinterland  In 14th, served Riau and Borneo
 Early 20th, served Malaysia
In 1965, Malaysia’s trade barriers, Indonesia’s Sukarno administration and China’s Cultural Revolution made it impossible for Singapore to rely on their traditional economic pillars Enterpot trade was VERY susceptible to global trends


Embraced colonial past and opened up to West
Import-substitution manufacturing for domestic market to manufacturing for Western market Education and training realigned to upgrade economic productivity Business-friendly labour laws passed

Financial Sector

Insurance, international banking corporations encouraged to establish Asian base in Singapore Shipping
Improved port and shipping capabilities

By 1975, Singapore was the world’s 3rd busiest port
GDP increased tremendously in early independence

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