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Pierce Secondary School Prelim 2009 Road to Self-government
Question 1 a) Study Source A: What is the source trying to convey about Singapore’s first two Chief Ministers? • The source is trying to convey the message that Marshall and Lim are facing severe challenges in bringing about self-governance for the people of Singapore. • This can be seen as both of them are being knocked on the head by apples labelled ‘strikes’, ‘unions’ and leftists’ which shows that they were being attacked by these elements and were unable to fully respond to it, despite their determined expressions and being equipped with spade and pick axe.
Question 1 a: • Moreover, they are facing a governor – Sir Nicoll who was not willing to grant them their demands in light of the internal strife that was plaguing Singapore. • This is seen as Nicoll is portrayed as saying ‘NO’ to the self government that was being demanded by David Marshall. • The purpose of the cartoon may be to reveal to the Singaporean public, about the different relationship that the governor has with the two men, through Sir Nicoll taking personal offence at David Marshall’s ‘smoking’ (which spelt the words ‘self government’) but Marshall remains defiant and refused to obey orders ‘not to smoke. ’ Lim however, is portrayed as being more accommodating to the British as he had stopped ‘smoking’ in response to the governor’s command – a veiled reference to Lim’s more accommodating stance towards the British in contrast to Marshall’s strict insistence on full self -government, with immediate effect. By revealing this, it helps to explain why it was that the British were more amenable to Lim as opposed to Marshall, and thus educates future generations of Singaporeans about the role that these two men played in Singapore’s path to independence.
Question 1 b: Study Sources B and C. Do Sources B and C agree with each other about Singapore? EYA. • Yes, both sources B and C agree with each other on Singapore, as they both believe that granting independence to Singapore will be detrimental to the security of the region. • Source B states that “as a military base, Singapore is indispensable to the defence…of Southeast Asia…Australia and New Zealand…(and) that an independent government would not be in a position to guarantee the necessary degree of security. ” • Moreover, Source C also casts doubt on Marshall’s claim that independence will help to “rally the majority of the people against Communism” by saying that it did not want Singapore to “become an outpost of Communist China” hence threatening the security of the region, as if Singapore fell to the Communists.
Question 1 b • They also agree that the British were very concerned about preserving their control over defence in Singapore. • Source B talks exclusively about Singapore’s function as a British military base to oversee regional security, and this commitment to the defence of Singapore is also seen in Source C as it reveals that the British “had insisted on a defence council, on which Britain and Singapore should have equal representation, with a casting vote in the hands of a British High Commissioner. ” This illustrates their great reluctance in handing over the huge responsibility of security and defence to the natives.
Question 1 b • Finally, both sources do agree with each other about Singapore, as they both express an official viewpoint about Singapore’s value to the British. • Source B is from the Office of the Commonwealth and thus seeks to safeguard British interests over that of Singaporean nationalist sentiments. • Likewise, although Source C is from a Historian, the Historian has provided the perspective of the Colonial Office in justifying the continued British dominance in Singapore over Singapore’s desire for complete self-rule.
Question 1 c: Study Source D. Is Source D reliable in showing that the people wanted political independence? • No, the source is not reliable in showing that the people wanted political independence. • This is because it only focuses on a narrow perspective – while there were 167, 259 signatures, this was only slightly more than half of the electorate of 300, 000. My contextual knowledge further reveals that the total population in Singapore exceeded 1 million, hence it is not possible for the 167, 259 to be said to represent “the people” of Singapore.
Question 1 c: Study Source D. Is Source D reliable in showing that the people wanted political independence? • Furthermore, I know from my contextual knowledge at only 53% of the electorate went to the polls for the 1955 elections, which illustrates a general sense of political apathy and thus throws into doubt Source D’s reliability in showing that the people wanted political independence. • Furthermore, I can see from the other sources that it is David Marshall who claims to speak on behalf of the people, as seen from Sources A and C where he says that “ ‘merdeka’ will rally the majority of the people against Communism’” (Source C) thus giving the impression that “the people” wanted political independence, so much so that it would stir up their spirits to fight against Communism.
Question 1 c • Thus the Source is not reliable in showing that ‘the people’ want political independence as it has only focused on the 167, 259 people who do, but not on the majority of the population whose voices remain muted on this issue. Thus it is not possible to conclude that Source D is reliable as it has the hidden agenda of trying to use figures to put pressure on the British to grant independence, and to create the impression that the majority were for the idea of political independence.
Question 1 d: Study all sources. How far do all sources show that Singapore was politically too weak to be granted independence? • The sources, with the exception of Source E, largely show that Singapore was politically too weak to be granted independence. • Source A shows clearly that the leaders were unable to deal adequately with the problems of strikes, unions and leftists, and this made them weak in the eyes of the British governor who thus said ‘no’ to their demands for selfgovernance.
Question 1 d • Sources B and C also illustrate clearly that the British were not prepared to relinquish their control over the defence of Singapore as they felt that ‘an independent government would not be in a position to guarantee the necessary degree of security’ (Source B) as they feared that this may result in Singapore becoming ‘an outpost of Communist China’ (Source C), thus showing the lack of British confidence in the Singaporean government’s ability to run the country as they were politically too weak. • Although Source D was intended to show that the leaders were able to rally ‘the people’ together by obtaining 167, 259 signatures to demand political independence, this however ironically serves to reveal the political weakness of the leaders, as this number was only slightly more than half of the 300, 000 electorate, which is in turn less than a third of the total population.
Question 1 d • Finally, Source E is the only source that shows that despite the British Governor’s lack of support for Marshall and his attempts to undermine his power, David Marshall was able to resist this and to establish himself as a fully-fledged Chief Minister, as seen from “Marshall was not a man to be brow-beaten, insisted on making the role of the chief minister a full-time responsibility. ” This shows at least that Singapore had a Chief Minister who stuck to his guns and was determined to fight for Singapore, thus challenging the hypothesis that Singapore was too weak to grant independence. Rather it shows that it was the British refusal to grant Marshall the full powers of a chief minister that may have given the impression that Singapore was too weak to rule herself.
Question 1 d • Thus in conclusion, the sources do largely show that Singapore was too politically weak to be granted independence as it not only faced internal threats that they were unable to fully cope with, but that this also led to the loss of confidence in the eyes of the colonial master, who in turn tried to further curtail Singapore’s attempt at selfrule.