The written history of Singapore dates back to the third century. Later, the Kingdom of Singapura rose in importance during the 14th century under the rule of Sultan Iskandar Shah and Singapore became an important port, until it was invaded by the Majapahit in 1398. It then came under the Malacca Sultanate and then the Johor Sultanate. Modern Singapore was founded in 1819, when Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles negotiated a treaty whereby Johor allowed the British to found a trading port on the island.
The history of the United Kingdom as a unified sovereign state began in 1707 with the political union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland,1 into a united kingdom called Great Britain. Of this new state the historian Simon Schama said “What began as a hostile merger would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world… it was one of the most astonishing transformations in European history.”2 A further Act of Union in 1800 added the Kingdom of Ireland to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
By 1733, there were 13 colonies. In 1775, a war between the colonies and Britain called the Revolutionary War started. This war started because the American colonists were upset over changes in British policies. On July 4, 1733, people from the thirteen colonies created the United States Declaration of Independence. This said that they were free from Great Britain. George Washington helped lead the Revolutionary War, which the Americans won.
The first decades were marked by Jacobite risings which ended with defeat for the Stuart cause at Culloden in 1746. In 1763, victory in the Seven Years War led to the dominance of the British Empire, which was to be the foremost global power for over a century and grew to become the largest empire in history. As a result, the culture of the United Kingdom, and its industrial, political, constitutional, educational and linguistic influence, became worldwide.
Armed conflict began in 1775 as Patriots drove the royal officials out of every colony and assembled in mass meetings and conventions. In 1776, Congress declared that there was a new, independent nation, the United States of America, not just a collection of disparate colonies. With large-scale military and financial support from France and military leadership by General George Washington, the American Patriots won the Revolutionary War.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew fought for self-Government from our British colonial masters and later led Singapore into merger with Malaysia believing that this was the best option for Singapore’s future. When merger did not work out, he took Singapore out of Malaysia and built a nation from nothing during our most difficult years.
He built up a strong defence capability to protect our sovereignty, a vibrant economy which created good jobs, a sound education system and excellent infrastructure, housing and environment. He transformed Singapore from a Third World to First World country.
The way he went about his work also mattered – he was meticulous, persistent, with tremendous drive and spirit, never quitting. He also saw to the continued success of Singapore beyond him through leadership succe