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Friday, June 5, 2009

Struggle for self-rule Timeline - ST May 30

Struggle for self-rule

July 3, 1947: Election Bill is passed, with first poll to be held in 1948. Voters can elect six members to the Legislative Council.

March 20, 1948: First election, with half of the six seats won by the Singapore Progressive Party (SPP), made up of European and English-educated businessmen and professionals. It is not keen on immediate self-government

April 10, 1951: Second election (above), with the number of elected seats raised from six to nine. The SPP, which won two-thirds of the seats, aims to gain self-government by 1963.

July 21, 1953: Sir George Rendel (above, fourth from right) heads a commission to review the Constitution, with a view to giving Singapore more autonomy. The Rendel Commission recommends having a separate local government with a fully elected City Council, and for the central government, a 32-seat legislative assembly comprising 25 elected councillors. The British accept the proposal, with the next election called in 1955 to implement the Constitution.

April 2, 1955: The first Legislative Assembly election is contested by several new political parties. They include the People's Action Party (PAP) led by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and the Singapore Labour Front led by Mr David Marshall. The Labour Front surprisingly wins the majority of seats, garnering 10 of them. Mr Marshall becomes Singapore's first chief minister. The PAP wins three out of four seats it contested.

April 23, 1956: First round of 'Merdeka' Talks starts, with Mr Marshall leading an all-party delegation to London to demand internal self-government by 1957. The talks break down as both sides cannot agree on one point: Who has the final say on defence issues? Mr Marshall resigns in June for failing to achieve self-rule, and his deputy Lim Yew Hock takes over.

March 11, 1957: Second round of talks is led by Mr Lim. The delegation accepts similar constitutional terms that the Marshall team had refused. Defence issues are solved, with the Federation of Malaya given the casting vote.

May 28, 1958: Constitutional Agreement is signed in London after the end of the third round of talks. It sets the stage for the 1959 election. The State of Singapore Act is passed in Britain to provide for self-government and Singapore citizenship.

May 30, 1959: The PAP, in opposition for the past four years, sweeps 43 out of 51 seats in polls to decide the first fully-elected, post-colonial Government.

May 31, 1959: A PAP conference, open only to cadres, is held at the Hokkien Huay Kuan in Kreta Ayer Street. The 500 cadres re-elect the moderates to the central executive committee.

June 1, 1959: Governor William Goode asks Mr Lee Kuan Yew to form the Government. Mr Lee repeats his party's condition: Release eight detained associates. They are: Lim Chin Siong, Fong Swee Suan, Devan Nair, S.Woodhull, J.Puthucheary, Chan Chiaw Thor, Chan Chong Kin and Chen Say Jame.

June 2, 1959: Governor Goode announces the eight detainees will be released two days later, breaking the impasse and averting a constitutional crisis.

June 3, 1959: At one minute past midnight, the Governor proclaims Singapore a self-governing state. At 8.30am, he takes office as Yang di-Pertuan Negara, or Head of State. PAP holds a mass rally at the Padang in the evening.

June 4, 1959: Eight PAP detainees are freed from Changi prison. PAP issues a statement signed by six, including hardliner Lim Chin Siong (above centre), that they support the PAP leadership's non-communist road.

June 5, 1959: Swearing-in of the Cabinet, including Mr Lee as Singapore's first Prime Minister. Its first action: Scrap the City Council.

Dec 3, 1959: Mr Yusof Ishak is sworn in as the first Malayan-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara, replacing Sir William Goode. On independence, Mr Yusof becomes the President.

July 20, 1961: The PAP leaders win a motion of confidence in the Government by one vote. The 13 pro-communist assemblymen who abstained or voted against the Government are expelled. They form the Barisan Sosialis.

Sept 1, 1962: In a referendum, 71 per cent vote for merger with Malaysia.

Sept 16, 1963: Singapore becomes a state in the Federation of Malaysia. A general election five days later sees the PAP win 37 seats, to Barisan's 13.

Aug 9, 1965: Singapore becomes independent after separating from Malaysia. At a press conference on TV, PM Lee calls on his people to remain firm and calm. TIMELINE COMPILED BY SUE-ANN CHIA

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