Mr Lee Kuan Yew's reading of the Proclamation of Independence kicks off National Day celebrations

 Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (middle row, third from right) with his wife Ho Ching (middle row, fourth from right) reciting the pledge at Teck Ghee in Ang Mo Kio on Aug 9, 2015.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (middle row, third from right) with his wife Ho Ching (middle row, fourth from right) reciting the pledge at Teck Ghee in Ang Mo Kio on Aug 9, 2015.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Residents at Teck Ghee listening to the Proclamation.
Residents at Teck Ghee listening to the Proclamation.ST PHOTO: WALTER SIM
The Proclamation of Independence.
The Proclamation of Independence. PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Singapore heard for the first time a recording of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew reading the Proclamation of Independence.

The recording, made in 2012, was broadcast at 9am on local radio and TV channels, and marked at 82 grassroots-led National Day observance ceremonies islandwide. Participants at the ceremonies also sang the National Anthem and recited the pledge.

The original reading of the Proclamation over Radio Singapore 50 years ago was made by an announcer.

The Proclamation was read by radio anchor Steven Lee on behalf of Mr Lee, who said in his memoir that he did not announce the Separation because he had "too many other things to do in quick succession".

  • The text of the Proclamation of Independence is reproduced here:

  • WHEREAS it is the inalienable right of a people to be free and independent;

    AND WHEREAS Malaysia was established on the 16th day of September, 1963, by a federation of the existing states of the Federation of Malaya and the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore into one independent and sovereign nation;

    AND WHEREAS by an Agreement made on the seventh day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-five between the Government of Malaysia of the one part and the Government of Singapore of the other part it was agreed that Singapore should cease to be a state of Malaysia and should thereupon become an independent and sovereign state and nation separate from and independent of Malaysia;

    AND WHEREAS it was also agreed by the parties to the said Agreement that, upon the separation of Singapore from Malaysia, the Government of Malaysia shall relinquish its sovereignty and jurisdiction in respect of Singapore so that the said sovereignty and jurisdiction shall on such relinquishment vest in the Government of Singapore;

    AND WHEREAS by a Proclamation dated the ninth day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-five The Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah did proclaim and declare that Singapore shall on the ninth day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-five cease to be a state of Malaysia and shall become an independent and sovereign state and nation separate from and independent of Malaysia and recognised as such by the Government of Malaysia.

    Now I LEE KUAN YEW Prime Minister of Singapore, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM AND DECLARE on behalf of the people and the Government of Singapore that as from today the ninth day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-five Singapore shall be forever a sovereign democratic and independent nation, founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of her people in a more just and equal society.

    (Signed) LEE KUAN YEW

    Prime Minister of Singapore.

    Dated the 9th day of August, 1965.

To make up for this, Mr Lee - the man who had drummed up support for Singapore's merger with Malaysia in the early 1960s, and barely two years later, broke down as he spoke of its expulsion from the federation - agreed in 2012 to a recording of him reading the proclamation.

Singaporeans woke up to a slightly drizzly morning after over-night rain. All across the country, people clad in the national colours of red and white made their way to the 82 grassroots-led ceremonies.

At Temasek Junior College, hundreds gathered for the Great Singapore Workout together with Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.

At Sembawang, residents took part in a Pioneer Generation run, while in Bedok, residents took part in a march that featured a large Singapore flag. Jurong West Stadium also saw a sea of red-and-white, as did Marine Parade, where some residents came dressed as policemen, postmen and samsui women.

Over in Tanjong Pagar, the ward of the late Mr Lee, residents filed into Lower Delta Road to listen to the recording of the Proclamation.

At Teck Ghee in Ang Mo Kio, the ward of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, flag-waving crowds also gathered, among them pupils of Townsville Primary School. A sing-along saw them singing Home, the all-time favourite National Day song. 

Mr Lee joined the residents for the Proclamation moment, and later, for a birthday song and the cutting of an SG50 cake.

From carnivals to march-pasts, each observance ceremony celebrated Singapore's 50th birthday in its own unique way.

Many will also include nostalgic sights, sounds and activities to recreate the mix of anxiety and optimism that marked Singapore's first day as an independent nation 50 years ago.

This year's National Day celebration is the first without Mr Lee, who died in March aged 91.

waltsim@sph.com.sg