Divorcing Malaysia Set Singapore Free
1965 Expelled from federation with Malaysia, Singapore becomes an independent state.
“Every time we look back on this moment … it will be a moment of anguish.” So declared Lee Kuan Yew in a tearful press conference on Aug. 7, 1965, when Singapore announced its divorce from neighboring Malaysia. The split marked the birth of the global economy’s most successful startup. Singapore was poorer than Jordan in 1965; now it’s 10 times as rich. The World Bank ranks Singapore ninth in gross domestic product per capita, a place ahead of the U.S. By another measure—gross national income per capita on a purchasing-power basis—the country is second only to Qatar. Singapore’s probusiness economic policies, high education standards, and rigorous social strictures have made it a model for developing nations across Asia and beyond.