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UGEC2011 The Making of Modern Singapore

Semester 2 (2021-2022)

Lecture TimeWednesday 2:30pm - 4:15pm

VenueWMY 408


Lecturer LEE Hiu Hong Michael

Course Description

This course traces and examines the development of Singapore since 1819, when Stamford Raffles of the English East India Company established a trading settlement on the island. The main focuses of the course will include the political, social and economic development of Singapore since the colonial era up to the post-independent period, the characteristics of the Chinese, Malay and Indian communities in Singapore, the impact of decolonization on Singapore and Southeast Asia, the roles performed by Lee Kuan Yew and the People’s Action Party in the nation-building of Singapore, and a comparison between Singapore and Hong Kong from a historical perspective.

  1. Introduction (12 Jan)


No Readings


  1. Stamford Raffles and Modern Singapore (19 Jan)


Tarling, N. Colonial Singapore. Singapore: Straits Times Press, 2015, pp. 7-27.


  1. Botanic Gardens and Singapore’s Colonial Economy (26 Jan)


Huff, W. The Economic Growth of Singapore: Trade and Development in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 43-68.


  1. Overseas Chinese and Peranakans in Singapore (9 Feb)


Kwok, K. & Teng, S. Chinese. Singapore: Straits Times Press, 2018, pp. 18-39.


  1. 15 February 1942: The Fall of Singapore (16 Feb)


Comber, L. Japanese Occupation. Singapore: Straits Times Press, 2017, pp. 9-24, 40-54.


  1. 9 August 1965: Independence of Singapore (23 Feb)


Ooi, K. “Politics Divided: Malaysia-Singapore Relations.” in T. Shiraishi (Ed.) Across the Causeway: A Multi-dimensional Study of Malaysia-Singapore Relations. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009, pp. 27-51.


  1. Nation-Building of Singapore: Lee Kuan Yew and After (2 Mar)


Barr, M. “Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew: Traveling Light, Traveling Fast.” in R. Guha (Ed.) Makers of Modern Asia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014, pp. 244-266.


  1. Becoming First World Country: Economic Growth and Development in Singapore (9 Mar)


Trocki, C. Singapore: Wealth, Power and the Culture of Control. London: Routledge, 2006, pp. 160-180.


  1. Reengineering the Society: Pragmatic Social Policies for Political Hegemony (16 Mar)


Chua, B. Liberalism Disavowed: Communitarianism and State Capitalism in Singapore. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2017, pp. 74-97.


  1. Moulding a Nation: Education for Elitism and Meritocracy (23 Mar)


Tan, J. “Notions of Equality and Fairness in Education,” in K. Kennedy & J. Lee (Eds) Routledge International Handbook of Schools and Schooling in Asia. London: Routledge 2018, pp. 28-39.


  1. Governing Singapore: The Government Machine under the PAP (30 Mar)


Tan, K. “The Ideology of Pragmatism: Neo-liberal Globalisation and Political Authoritarianism in Singapore.” Journal of Contemporary Asia, 42 (1), 2012, pp. 67-92.

  1. Filming Singapore: Mass and New Media in Singapore (13 Apr)

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


  1. Beyond SG50: Past, Present and Future (20 Apr)


Woo, J. The Evolution of the Asian Developmental State: Hong Kong and Singapore. London: Routledge, 2018. (Optional reading; E-book available in CUHK Library)


Assessment & Assignments

Class Participation: 5%

Further details will be given when the semester begins.


Online Forum on Required Readings: 20%

Students are required to write three short notes, each of which with 150-200 words in English, on three required readings assigned. Further details will be given when the semester begins.


Mid-Term Source-Based Questions: 25%

Students will have one week to complete the task of Source-Based Questions related to the development of Singapore before 1965 to be covered in the first six lectures. Further details will be given when the semester begins.


Term-End Take-Home Exam Essay: 50%

Students will be allowed two weeks to write an essay in English with 2,000-2,500 words in response to one of a few questions. The questions will be given in the second last lecture, when more details 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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