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

Topics: Nationalism, Singapore, Nation Pages: 7 (2240 words) Published: October 8, 2005
"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...

Bibliography: 1. Hill Micheal & Lian Kwen Fee, The politics of nation building and state citizenship in Singapore. London Routledge,1995.
2. James Minchin, "No man Is an Island: A portrait of Singapore 's Lee Kwan Yew", National Library of Australia, Allen & Unwin Aussie Pte Ltd, 1986.
3. Lau Albert, A Moment of anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the politics of disengagement." Singapore times academic press, 1998.
4. Lily Kong and Brenda Yeoh in ‘Singapore ' The construction of national identity through the production of ritual and spectacle" in "Singapore", Ash gate Publication Ltd 2001.
5. Mohamed Noordin Sopiee, From Malayan Union to Singapore Separation: Political unification in the Malaysia Region. Kuala Lumpur:Penerbit Universiti Malaya, 1976.
6. Roden, Gary "Singapore", in The construction of national identity through the production of ritual and spectacle", Ash gate Publication Ltd 2001.
7. W.E.Willmott, "The Emergence of Nationalism: In Management of Success. The Moulding of the future of Singapore. Edited by Sandhu K.S. and Wheatley, Paul. Singapore Institute of South East Asian Studies. 1989.
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