brief history of singapore
Days of Temasik
Old trading port (13 - 14th century)
Various archaeological digs around the historic Singapore River have uncovered artefacts and historical treasures that collude with historical records and writings of ancient traders, sailors and emissaries from China, Portugal, Holland and Britain etc. traveling through and trading in the island. It was also variously known as Temasik (Sea Port), Sabana and Pu Luo Jong.
Sang Nila Utam and the legend of 'Singa-Pura'
Based on the Sejara Melayu, or the 'Malay Annal ' written by a court official of the Johore Sultanate in the 16th Century, Sang Nila Utama was a prince from Palembang and was said to have landed on a beautiful sandy island after an ill fated hunting trip. He caught sight of a magnificent creature briefly before it fled in to the jungle, and upon inquiry was told it was a lion. Thus impressed, he named the island 'Singa-pura', which in the ancient Sanskrit language meant - 'Lion City'. He subsequently founded a settlement here.
Paremewsara (Iskandar Shah) the last king of Singapore, founder of Malacca
History has it that he was the 5th king of Singapura, fled north from aggressors attacking the island and eventually founded and established the city of Malacca. When the Portuguese attacked and defeated Malacca, the rulers fled south and established the Johore Sultanate, which had sovereignty of the island of Singapura.
Arrival of Raffles and Colonial Singapore
British East India Company - January 1819.
Sir Stamford Raffles was credited largely as the main man whose vision and tenacity spearheaded the British East India company's occupation and establishment of the island trading post of Singapore in 1819. A strategic and utterly significant move as it was to play a massive role of safe guarding the British Empire's interest in the region for a long time to come.
Singapore was part of the British Straits Settlement (together with Penang and Malacca) in 1824. In 1867 control was handed over to the British Crown and ruled directly from London.
World War 2
Japanese Occupation of Singapore 1942 - 1945
Over the period of the 1930s with the rise of the Imperial Japan threatening the delicate balance of power around the entire Pacific Rim, Britain turned the island of Singapore into a fortified city. She was built up as a bastion of British military might in the Far East, an impregnable fortress. Ready for any aggressor as it seems. Yet Singapore was overrun by the Japanese Army within a week, after having fought its way down the Malay Peninsula through rough roads and jungles.
The date that will live in infamy for Singapore - 15 February 1942. This day, the mighty British-led Allied forces capitulated and fell unceremoniously to the Japanese forces, and then began one of the darkest period of the history of Singapore. The Japanese Occupation of Singapore lasted 1942 till Sep 1945, with both the civilian and military population suffering untold torture and hardships. It only ended when Japan surrendered unconditionally, on the 12th September 1945.
The devastated island of Singapore began a long process of recovery under the returning British administration. But things were never going to be the same again for the island.
Clamour for Independence
These years saw the return of the British rulers, communists insurgencies, communal unrest and the rising clamour for some form of independence for the rapidly growing city. With the Chinese being the largest race of the population. And from among this race, came a local politician - the irrepressible Lee Kuan Yew who in 1959, won self-rule through the People's Action Party.
Merger with Malaya
While struggling with the insurmountable task of forging a new nation, coupled with continued strife with communalism and communism, Singapore merged with her Malayan neighbours up north, and Sabah & Sarawak over at North Borneo to form Malaysia. It was hoped this will strengthen Singapore's chances of survival and progress. It lasted all of 2 years before clashing ideologies and other political wranglings forced the painful separation of Singapore from Malaysia.
Independence - Modern Singapore
9th August, 1965 till today
In every dark, dire situation, there is always a silver lining. This was for the nascent new nation, the Republic of Singapore, a brave new world of challenges and opportunities. For Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and his early nation-building colleagues it was a chance to take the bull by its horns and move the country forward. The decades that followed is one fairy tales are made of.
Without a hinterland to back it, no natural resources and a largely rural population, Singapore was able to wade through political intrigues, economic uncertainties and defensive frailties to develop in 50 years (as of 2015) a nation with one of the world's highest Per Capita income, and one of the strongest economies in Asia and the World and a highly qualified and motivated workforce.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew died on 23 March 2015 aged 91. It signaled the end of an era and also saw a massive and unprecedented turn out of a nation mourning the passing of 'the father of modern Singapore'.
And on 9 August 2015, Singapore erupted island-wide in festivities and grand celebrations of SG50 Golden Jubilee, a major landmark in the history of this island. This generation now writes the next chapters another 50 years of independence till SG 100!