KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — It was wise for Malaysia to expel Singapore from the country back in 1965 as the island state was not compatible with Malaysians, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said.
Dr Mahathir was asked if he believed it was right for Malaysia to expel Singapore, with the benefit of historical hindsight.
“That happened a long time ago, we cannot do anything about it, so we don’t question whether it was right or wrong. But the fact is that Singapore was a part of Malaysia before. It is our country,” he said during a dialogue session after delivering a speech at the Oxford Union in the UK.
“Normally, when a country decides to decolonise, the land goes back to the owner of that land, to the country that owns that land, that happened to Hong Kong and Macau and other places.
“But in our case, we find that people in Singapore are not compatible with the people in Malaysia. They have different viewpoints, different ideas about how a country should be ruled, so it is for that reason that they were asked to leave Malaysia, and I think it was a wise decision at that time,” he added.
Malaysia was formed on September 16, 1963 when the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo (now Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore decided to come together as a new nation.
On August 9, 1965, Malaysia expelled Singapore.
This was less than three years after most Singaporeans voted in a referendum to join the Federation of Malaysia and also less than two years since its formation.
The heart-breaking farewell was preceded by the deadly 1964 race riots in Singapore, which contributed to the eventual decision for Singapore to cease becoming part of Malaysia.
Both the lower and upper Houses of Malaysia’s Parliament had on August 9, 1965 unanimously approved a Bill to amend the Malaysian constitution to allow Singapore’s expulsion to become an independent country.
Then Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had on that day spoke of his anguish at Singapore’s separation from Malaysia, sharing his belief that there were other ways to reduce communal tensions in the country, but also noting that then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman was adamant on the expulsion.
Tunku Abdul Rahman reportedly confirmed on the same day that it was his idea for Singapore to be removed from Malaysia as there would otherwise be “no hope for peace” and “no end to bickering” with Singapore.