Singapore: The Unexpected Nation

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Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008 - Political Science - 707 pages
This book deals with Singapore's transition from a British Crown Colony to a state in the Federation of Malaysia, and expulsion from the Federation to become a separate independent nation. For the leaders of Singapore's PAP Government, Malaysia was a traumatic experience. Yet, but for it, they might never have found the resolve and the secret of building this extraordinary nation, this nation based on Singapore alone that they and an entire generation had once believed an impossibility. This story of nation-building deals with topics on national (army) service, economic development, education in schools and in universities, housing and home ownership. It deals also with issues of ethnicity and national identity in the context of challenges from within and without, in the latter case from globalization and global Islamism.

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Dear Author,
Dr. Joseph Tan Kwang Meng is my father, I am the youngest of his 4 children.
My father pass-on when I was about 17 months old and thus I know little about him.
My eldest brother was 10 years old- Aloysius Tan Teck Lee
My elder sister was 8 years old- Amelia Tan Teck Choo
My second sister was 5 years old- Bridget Sylvia Tan Teck Sim
They are all in their late years but are well.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew in his first book "Battle for Merger", he gave my father special mentioned as his mentor Dr. JKM Tan.
In the annuals at the Singapore University, they mentioned that my father died of mental illness.
My sister Bridget corrected them on the documentation.
I am now writing based on the facts that I was told, Dr. Joseph Tan Kwang Meng, my father was indeed from a Teochew family but not a wealthy one.
The Estate we owned at Jalan Hock Chye was won by my grandfather in a gaming den of those days. In great wisdom he transfered the deed to his mother and subsequently to my father and aunt. He was subsequently murdered in the gaming den.
My grandmother remarried a construction worker, bore another 3 sons but he, my step-grandfather also died falling off the steeple of a church he was erecting.
The church compensated my granny and the three uncles a piece of land each.
They were never rich collecting meagre ground-rent in a sub-urb.
My father struggled through medical college through the 2nd world-war, married my mum and fathered his first two children. Returned to college after the war and graduated in third place.
He was offered a WHO scholarship but failed medically to qualify because he was already hypertensive and diabetic. He was then offered to be an assistant lecturer at Prince Edward College of Medicine.
It was while he was an assistant lecturer, that he got involved as a leader of Anti-British student activist group garnering human rights for Singaporeans and independence from the British rule.
Dr Lim Chan Yong and Mr. Lee Kuan Yew were his followers.
He became a locum doctor for a friend who had to be away for further studies but he ended up running a free clinic for the poor.
He was caught by the British and was jailed.
Because of his poor health, he was released and banished to Kuching Sarawak General Hospital where I was conceived and birthed. He became very sick with Cerebral Haemorrhage and had to be surgically operated in Britian. They (my dad and mum) had to borrow money from his student Dr. Sylvia Lee (Lee Kong Chian's) daughter for this operation.
The Operation was successful and they returned to Singapore, my dad loss his memory and could not practice medicine nor work. He died in his sleep in 1954.
My mum returned to nursing, private nursing, to provide for the 4 of us and repaid all my father's debt. All the 4 of us completed our education, Aloysius is a first batch Accountant, Amelia a nurse, Bridget a Business graduate and today the CEO of H.O.M.E. and myself a Masters in Financial Services running a team of FA Representatives with special focused on restoring wrongfully alleged FA Representatives.
My mum pass on in her eighties about 10 years ago.


1 Beginnings From Temasek to Singapore
2 Race History and Nationalism
3 Contestants and Contesting Visions
4 The Accidental Chief Minister
5 The Terminal Chief Minister
6 The Embattled Prime Minister
7 Merger Contesting Ownership and Principles
8 Terms of Disendearment
14 University and Nation
15 Tohs NationBuilding Thrust
16 Nantah Between Community and Nation
17 SelfRenewal Talents for a Tough Act
18 The Consensual Prime Minister
19 Confucianism Christianity Chineseness
20 Singapore Dreams Singapore Dilemmas
21 The Hyphenated Singaporean

9 Dare to be Equal
10 The Way to Survive
11 National Service The Price of Independence
12 Politics of Education
13 Home Ownership National Stability and the New Middle Classes
22 The Unexpected Nation
Bibliographical Note
The Author

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About the author (2008)

 Edwin Lee is formerly Associate Professor, and Head of the Department of History, National University of Singapore.

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