In 1963, Singapore merged with the Federation of Malaya together with North Borneo and Sarawak to form Malaysia. It was not a happy, incident-free union. It ended the 144 year British rule of Singapore.
There were many ideological differences between Singapore and the federal government of Malaysia which led to distrust. It resulted in frequent disagreement within politics, economic, financial and social policies. Within a year racial tension increased dramatically. It was fueled by Federal policies of affirmative action, which granted special privileges to the Malays guaranteed under Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia. The Malays also enjoyed more financial and economic privileges. In 1964, racial riots broke out.
To prevent further bloodshed, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia on 7 August 1965 by a unanimous vote of the Parliament of Malaysia. Lee Kuan Yew tearfully announced Singapore’s sovereignty and independence by saying: “For me, it is a moment of anguish. All my life, my whole adult life, I have believed in merger and unity of the two territories.”
On that day Singapore became the only nation in modern history to gain independence against its own will. The new state became the Republic of Singapore, with the Yang di-Pertuan Negara becoming President.