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Across the Causeway

A Multi-dimensional Study of Malaysia-Singapore Relations

Takashi Shiraishi

Publication Year: 2008

This book considers Malaysia-Singapore relations from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Geographical proximity, historical linkages, material flows, and movements have long connected the peoples and territories of Malaysia and Singapore in various ways and with varying degrees of intensity. Relations between the two countries have been shaped not only by competing visions of the nation and the different trajectories taken by these countries' nation-building projects, but also by the reality of economic interdependence and competition, security cooperation, and increasing embeddedness in the market-created East Asian region. The thirteen essays on history, politics, regional security, law, and economy collectively aim at a multi-dimensional study that seeks to convey the density and complexity of connections "across the Causeway".

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

The Contributors

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pp. vii-x

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-10

This book considers Malaysia-Singapore relations from a range of disciplinary perspectives. The chapters on history, politics, regional security, law, and economics collectively aim at a multidimensional study that seeks to convey the density and complexity of connections “across the Causeway”....

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2. British Policy Across the Causeway, 1942–71: Territorial Merger as a Strategy of Imperial Disengagement

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pp. 11-26

The loss of Singapore in 1942 haunted the British until their final withdrawal from east of Suez nearly thirty years later. In 1970 Sir Arthur de la Mare recollected how he had been beset throughout his term as Britain’s high commissioner in Singapore with daily reminders of the disaster. The “smell...

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3. Politics Divided: Malaysia-Singapore Relations

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pp. 27-51

Geographically and historically Malaysia and Singapore are a single entity. However, political interests and priorities cast them asunder into two separate, and even antagonizing, entities. Political agendas and considerations severed the social, economic, cultural, and historical relations between these two...

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4. Seeds of Separation

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pp. 52-79

The Malaya-Singapore merger of September 1963 was attempted out of necessity by those who had different, if not, conflicting agendas. The fact that it foundered hardly two years later speaks volumes about the incompatibility of their interests. The seeds of separation were sown almost right from the...

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5. Political Relations

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pp. 80-91

Current relations between Singapore and Malaysia were significantly shaped by the legacy of merger and separation. A review of this period indicates not only the importance of political leadership, but also, more fundamentally, the importance of communalism. These twin factors infused tensions into...

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6. The Politics of Becoming “Malaysian” and “Singaporean”

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pp. 92-124

Singapore’s separation from Malaysia in August 1965 after fewer than 23 months in the Federation has generated much interest — and controversy — in its wake. Explanations of why “merger” failed, and the issues and circumstances that have contributed to the island’s “eviction” from Malaysia...

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7. Johor in Malaysia-Singapore Relations

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pp. 125-138

Johor holds a very unique position in the Malaysia-Singapore relations. Although it has been part of the Federation of Malaysia, the present day mainland Johor has very special historical, political, social, and cultural ties with Singapore. Every day, nearly 80,000 Malaysians commute to Singapore...

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8. Politics and International Relations: The Singapore Perspective

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pp. 139-151

The Singapore government is well aware of the historical linkages that it had with the Malaysian hinterland. The legacy of British colonization, membership in the Straits Settlements, and subsequent brief membership in the Malaysian federation are historical artefacts. Although these artefacts have become much...

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9. Malaysian Constitutional Perspectives on the Admission and Separation of Singapore

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pp. 152-162

In recent years there have been many occasions involving spats between Malaysia and Singapore ranging from water agreements to territorial disputes. At the moment it is not easy to deal with them, as facts and documents relating to those disputes are not accessible to the public, and thus they are better left...

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10. Security Relations

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pp. 163-174

Since the nineteenth century, peninsula Malaya and Singapore have formed essentially one economic and military unit under British colonial rule.1 As Malaysia and Singapore moved towards independence, political leaders on both sides of the causeway accepted as an article of faith that their mutual...

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11. Regional Security: The Singapore Perspective

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pp. 175-186

The maintenance of good regional security is an extremely important consideration for Singapore. Two major motivations account for its importance in the country’s agenda. The first of these is the small land area and population size of the country. Whereas these considerations make for easier domestic...

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12. Managing the Threat of Muslim Radicalism in the Post-September 11 Incidents

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pp. 187-199

The banning of a Singaporean Malay girl, Nurul Nasihah, in late February 2002 from attending school for wearing an Islamic headscarf in class raised protests not only from the Singaporean Muslim community, but also from the Malaysian Muslims. Although the Malaysian government distanced itself...

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13. Economic Relations: Competing or Complementary?

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pp. 200-230

Singapore and Malaysia belonged to a group of countries popularly known as the High-Performing Asian Economies (HPAEs) by the World Bank in its 1993 publication entitled The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy. Indeed Singapore and Malaysia had grown remarkably during...

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14. Malaysia-Singapore Economic Relations: Once Partner, Now Rivals. What Next?

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pp. 231-249

When the British ruled the entire Malay peninsula, the links between the various parts of their empire were established almost unconsciously. The economies of the various Malay States and Strait Settlements were interdependent, and Singapore, Penang, and Kelang were their gateways. Singapore grew rich...

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15. Perspective on Economic Relations with Malaysia

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pp. 250-264

The Singapore perspective of its economic relations with Malaysia premised as a pure economic thesis is that the duo is a natural economic union as shown in section 2. However, the political economy reality is the enigma of the historical baggage of the 1963 merger and 1965 exit which mires their...


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pp. 265-276

E-ISBN-13: 9789812307842
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812307835

Page Count: 276
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • Malaysia -- Foreign relations -- Singapore.
  • Singapore -- Foreign relations -- Malaysia.
  • Malaysia -- Foreign economic relations -- Singapore.
  • Singapore -- Foreign economic relations -- Malaysia.
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