Singapore granted self-rule on April 11, 1957

BY VENESSA THOR, Straits Times

April 11, 1957 in Singapore: Britain grants island colony self-rule

After four weeks of talks in London, the British government today agrees to give the island colony of Singapore self-governance under a new constitution agreed in London.

Chief Minister of Singapore Lim Yew Hock and Alan Lennox-Boyd, secretary of state for the Colonies, sign an agreement.

The signing comes amidst a post-World War II climate of anti-colonial and nationalist sentiments.

Many people had been calling for Singapore’s independence.

Meanwhile, the British were reluctant to relinquish control of Singapore’s internal security. They were worried about communist influence and unrest and labour strikes in the mid-1950s.

Singapore’s first Chief Minister, Mr David Marshall, resigned after failed talks with the British, and Mr Lim Yew Hock took his place. The latter launched a crackdown on communist groups, which the British approved of.

The constitution comes into effect some time after Jan 1, 1958 when the colony will become known as the State of Singapore.

April 11, 1957, overseas: Chilean poet-diplomat Pablo Neruda arrested

In Buenos Aires, Chilean poet-diplomat Pablo Neruda is arrested in his hotel room today.

Neruda has been serving as a diplomat and senator for the Chilean Communist Party.

A decade earlier, in 1948, he had criticised President Gonzales Videla’s policy in a speech, which became known as “Yo acuso” (“I accuse”) after the government’s repression of a miner’s strike in Lota, Chile.

Neruda also published a letter to numerous Latin American countries denouncing the government policies against its workers, after Videla banned the communist party newspaper.

Neruda was then accused by the Chilean government of defamation.

When communism was outlawed in Chile in 1948, a warrant was issued for Neruda’s arrest. He fled to Bueno Aires where he spent years in exile.

Interestingly, Neruda lived in Singapore in 1931 as the Consul of Chile.

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