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HIST2370 History of Singapore

Semester 2 (2021-2022)

Lecture TimeMonday 2:30pm - 4:15pm

VenueLSK 201


Lecturer LEE Hiu Hong Michael

Course Description

This course introduces and examines the historical development of Singapore since the British trade settlement in 1819, through the time of British colonialism, Japanese occupation, decolonization, self-government, merger with Malaysia, and finally nation-building after the independence in 1965 and up to the present. Apart from the political aspect of modern Singapore history, this course also examines the social, economic and cultural aspects of the historical development of modern Singapore over the past two centuries.



  1. Introduction to Modern Singapore (10 Jan)

No Readings

  1. Stamford Raffles and Modern Singapore (17 Jan)

Tay, J. “The Attempts of Raffles to Establish a British Base in South-East Asia, 1818-1819.” Journal of Southeast Asian History, 1 (2), 1960, pp. 30-46.

Wright, H. “The Anglo-Dutch Dispute in the East, 1814-1824.” The Economic History Review, New Series, 3 (2), 1950, pp. 229-239.


  1. Singapore as an Economic Hub in the 19th Century (24 Jan)

Wong, L. “The Strategic Significance of Singapore in Modern History.” The Great Circle, 4 (1), 1982, pp. 25-40.

Wong, L. “Singapore: Its Growth as an Entrepot Port, 1819-1941.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 9 (1), 1978, pp. 50-84.

  1. (Straits) Chinese Society in Singapore (7 Feb)

Ee, J. “Chinese Migration to Singapore, 1896-1941.” Journal of Southeast Asian History, 2 (1), 1961, pp. 39-51.

Yen, C. “Class Structure and Social Mobility in the Chinese Community in Singapore and Malaya.” Modern Asian Studies, 21 (3), 1987, pp. 417-445.

  1. 15 February 1942 (14 Feb)
  1. Murfett, J. Miksic, B. Farrell & M. Chiang, Between Two Oceans: A Military History of Singapore from First Settlement to Final British Withdrawal. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 248-279.

Blackburn, K. & Hack, K. War Memory and the Making of Modern Malaysia and Singapore. Singapore: NUS Press, pp. 292-333.

  1. 1965 (21 Feb)

Lau, A. A Moment of Anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the Politics of Disengagement. Singapore: Eastern University Press, 1998, pp. 1-20.

Leifer, M. “Singapore in Malaysia: The Politics of Federation.” Journal of Southeast Asian History, 6 (2), 1965, pp. 54-70.

  1. From Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) to Post-LKY Era (28 Feb)

Barr, M. “Lee Kuan Yew: Race, Culture and Genes.” Journal of Contemporary Asia, 29 (2), 1999, pp. 145-166.

Zakaria, F. “Culture is Destiny: A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew.” Foreign Affairs, 73 (2), 1994, pp. 109-126.

  1. From Third World to First: Economic Miracle in Singapore (7 Mar)

Huff, W. “Patterns in the Economic Development of Singapore.” Journal of Developing Areas, 21 (3), 1987, pp. 305-326.

Martin-Jones, D. “Economic Development, Asian Values and The Political Ordering of Contemporary Singapore.” Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, 23 (1/2), 1997, pp. 121-145.

  1. Pragmatic Social Policies for Political Hegemony (14 Mar)

Chua, B. Political Legitimacy and Housing: Stakeholding in Singapore. London: Routledge, 1997, pp. 124-151.

Lian, K. “Is There a Social Policy in Singapore?” In K. Lian & C. Tong (Eds). Social Policy in Post-Industrial Singapore. Leiden: Brill, 2008, pp. 21-43.

  1. Education for Elitism and Meritocracy (21 Mar)

Tan, K. “Meritocracy and Elitism in a Global City: Ideological Shifts in Singapore.” International Political Science Review, 29 (1), 2008, pp. 7-27.

Tan, J. “Managing Diversity: The Singapore Experience.” In G. Wan (Ed.) The Education of Diverse Student Populations: A Global Perspective. Dordrecht: Springer, 2008, pp. 159-181.

  1. The Rise of the People’s Action Party (28 Mar)
  2. Chua (Ed.), Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore. London: Routledge, 2002, pp. 184-202.

Tan, E. “Singapore: Transitioning to a ‘New Normal’ in a Post-Lee Kuan Yew Era.” Southeast Asian Affairs, 2012, pp. 263-282.

  1. Mass and Singapore Society (11 Apr)

George, C. “Consolidating Authoritarian Rule: Calibrated Coercion in Singapore.” The Pacific Review, 20 (2), 2007, pp. 127-145.

Liew, K. et al. “New Media and New Politics with Old Cemeteries and Disused Railways: Advocacy Goes Digital in Singapore.” Asian Journal of Communication, 23(6), 2013, pp.

Assessment & Assignments

Tutorial: 25 Marks

Students will be divided into groups to make a presentation on critically reviewing assigned tutorial readings for the four tutorial sessions conducted by the tutor. The mark distribution of this component is: Presentation Performance: 17 Marks & Participation (including Comments and Discussion): 8 Marks. Please note that 6 Marks will be deducted for being absent from one tutorial session (i.e. 12 Marks to be deducted for being absent from two tutorial sessions, and so on).


Tutorial 1: Chinese in Singapore Colony (Lecture 4 Readings)

Tutorial 2: Independence of Singapore (Lecture 6 Readings)

Tutorial 3: Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore (Lecture 7 Readings)

Tutorial 4: Singapore – A First World Country? (Lecture 8 Readings)


Mid-Term Review Essay: 25 Marks

Submit a 2,000-word review article based on the readings assigned for tutorial presentation. The submission deadline is two weeks after tutorial presentation.


Take-Home Exam: 50 Marks

Students will be allowed around two weeks to write an essay in English with 4,000 words in response to one of a few questions to be announced in the session on 28 Mar, when more details (including submission date and requirements) about this assignment will be given.


Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

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