Episode 50: “Questions & Answers III”

In this episode – the final episode of season 1 -, PJ Thum takes listener questions. Questions include comparisons of Singapore/Federation and Hong Kong/China; on British attitudes to the Barisan and whether Selkirk broke his promise at the Eden Hall Tea Party; and on Alex Josey. The episode concludes with a recording of PJ’s live interview on BFM89.9 on 7 October 2016. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at patreon.com/pjthum. The History of Singapore will return.

Episode 49: “Separation”

After years of long drawn out sound and fury and violence, the final conspiracy for separation was conducted in absolute secrecy, between a tiny group of people, and in a massive rush. In this episode, PJ Thum narrates the final secret rush to the separation of Singapore from Malaysia, and how it relates to 13 May 1969. He then concludes with some thoughts of the broad sweep of the history of Singapore’s independence. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit http://thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at http://patreon.com/pjthum.

Episode 48: The Chinese Ultra

As late as October 1964, separation was still unthinkable. But from November 1964 onwards, the situation slowly deteriorated. The road to separation was long and there were many opportunities to stop or turn back, but they were not taken. In this episode, PJ Thum outlines the turning points from November to June 1964 that led Malaysia to separation, and in particular puzzles over the behaviour of Lee Kuan Yew – a normally brilliant politician who inexplicably loses all semblance of political skill in May 1965. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at patreon.com/pjthum.

 

Episode 47: The 1964 Political Riots

Singapore has never had a race riot – so why do we call the riots of 1964 “race” riots? In this episode, PJ Thum explains how the elections of 1963 and 1964, the starkly divergent political circumstances north and south of the causeway, and most of all the contradictions inherent in how Malaysia had been constructed, led to the outbreak of riots in Singapore in 1964, and why they should be properly termed “political” riots. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit http://thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at http://patreon.com/pjthum.

Episode 46: Selamat Hari Malaysia

The mutual antipathy between Federation and Singapore ministers nearly sank merger before it happened, and ensured that Malaysia would be birthed into a poisoned atmosphere. In this episode, PJ Thum details how both sides grew increasingly hostile and bitter, how this was rooted in the different political systems in the two territories, and how they limped over the finish line into Malaysia. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit http://thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at http://patreon.com/pjthum.

Episode 45: The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Who is Lim Chin Siong?

It is just barely an exaggeration to say that Lee Kuan Yew’s primary reason to pursue merger was to defeat Lim Chin Siong; as a result of this, the lives of millions of people in four different territories would be changed forever. But who is Lim Chin Siong? What did he believe? And why was he so feared that the British, Federation, and PAP leaders would disrupt their stable arrangements to defeat him? In this episode, PJ Thum explores Lim in his own words, and seeks the beliefs behind the man. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at patreon.com/pjthum.

Episode 44: Operation Coldstore II: The Blame Game

The British, Federation, and PAP leaders agreed that Singapore’s political opposition would be arrested, despite the lack of evidence of any wrongdoing, before merger took place. But the issues of who to arrest, when to arrest them, and most of all, who would take the blame for the arrests, would prove so contentious that it would nearly torpedo merger. Lee Kuan Yew, in particular, sought to manipulate the arrests for maximum political gain, to the anger and frustration of his allies inside and outside Singapore. In this episode, PJ Thum describes the endless rounds of arguing, haggling, and brinkmanship that characterised the final negotiations over Coldstore. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit http://thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at http://patreon.com/pjthum .

Episode 43: Operation Coldstore I: The Night of Long Knives

The British, Federation of Malaya, and PAP leaders agreed to a merger of the Federation and Singapore. But Tunku Abdul Rahman demanded that Singapore’s political opposition be arrested before merger, while Lee Kuan Yew demanded they be arrested after merger, and Lord Selkirk felt arrests were unnecessary and unjustified. In this episode, PJ Thum explains the central political conflict surrounding merger and how this deadlock was eventually broken by a political event which ostensibly had nothing to do with Malaya. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at patreon.com/pjthum.

Episode 42: Hobson’s Choice

Needing to negotiate a form and structure for merger that satisfied both the Federation government and the people of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew ended up producing a compromise that gave away Singaporean sovereignty and politically quarantined Singaporeans in Singapore, in exchange for autonomy in commerce, education, and labour policy. In this episode, PJ Thum describes the raging controversy over Lee’s proposed form of merger and how Lee won popular approval in a National Referendum by giving the people a “Hobson’s Choice”. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at patreon.com/pjthum.

 

Episode 41: Lord Selkirk’s Tea Party

Lord Selkirk, UK Commissioner to Singapore, hosted James Puthucheary, Lim Chin Siong, Fong Swee Suan, and S. Woodhull at his official residence for tea at 4.30pm on 18 July 1961 – an event that become known in Singapore as the “Eden Hall Tea Party”. It was part of a long sequence of events that ended with the PAP splitting into two and the formation of the Barisan Sosialis. In this episode, PJ Thum tells the story of the Eden Hall Tea Party twice – first as we think we know it, then as it really happened – and demonstrates how history is not just about what is written down, but what is not written down – or indeed, what is deliberately left out. Please send questions, comments, and feedback to thehistoryofsingapore@gmail.com or visit thehistoryofsingapore.com. Support the show at patreon.com/pjthum.