The Battle for Merger Exhibition : Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s radio talk on subversion by communists

Lee Hsien Loong  <-

Visited the Battle for Merger exhibition at the National Library with my Teck Ghee activists. In 1961, Mr Lee Kuan Yew gave 12 radio talks, telling the inside story of the fight between the non-Communists and Communists, and explaining to Singaporeans what was at stake. Later he published the talks as a book, The Battle for Merger. The book has just been republished; hence the exhibition.

The radio talks were a crucial move in winning the hearts and minds of the people. It led to Singapore joining Malaysia, then Separation and today’s independent Singapore. Had Mr Lee and the non-Communist side lost, our history would have been totally different. 

Mr Lee worked very very hard to write and deliver the talks. I remember the “family holiday” in Cameron Highlands in August 1961, which we took so that my father could compose the talks away from the day to day pressures in Singapore. His secretary came with us, and there were multiple drafts and redrafts all over the flat in Cluny Lodge. 

I also remember following my father to Radio Singapore to record the talks. He broadcast 12 talks, in 3 languages, making a total of 36 broadcasts in just one month. Now that I have done my own talks and speeches, and know how much work goes into a single short broadcast, e.g. the National Day Message, I understand what a superhuman effort this was.

The subject was serious, but Mr Lee presented it simply and vividly. Singaporeans listened to the broadcasts eagerly. When the book came out, I read it, fascinated. I still have my old copy. It still reads like a thriller today.

After more than 50 years, Singapore has changed enormously, and vastly for the better. Most of today’s Singaporeans were born long after the broadcasts. They hardly know what the fight was about, why it mattered so much, and how it is still relevant today. 

That is why for #SG50, we are republishing The Battle for Merger.

Do look up the book, and visit the exhibition if you can. It’s on the 7th floor of the National Library Building at Bugis until 30th November.– LHL


建国总理非常明白合并对当时新加坡的前景,非常重要,费尽了体力和心思,为了就是要很明确的解释给国人具体的情形和后果。1961年8月,我们全家就上了金马伦高原陪着李先生让他能专心的写稿。印象中,演讲稿写了又改了好几遍,整间房子到处摆着一叠叠的演讲稿。最后,在一个月内做了36 次的电台广播,三种语言,每一种语言12次,很耗体力, 不过他坚持下去,完成重要的任务。


例如有关人士的亲笔记录等,是第一次公开展示。《联合早报》配合《争取合并的斗争》的再版,制作了“解读李光耀十二讲”中文电子书。可以点击 阅读。在国家读书馆7楼的展览到11月30日为止, 不妨去看一看

– 李显龙

Mr Lee Kuan Yew delivering the radio talks from the recording studio. I remember watching him record from the control room, able to see but not hear him through the double glazed windows of the sound-proof studio.
And here’s a close up of the drafts! 

(Image courtesy of National Archives of Singapore)


Overheard :

  •  My dad was born in 1941 n he often tell me about the past, also situations in Singapore before n after Mr Lee Kuan Yew rise up as Prime Minister therefore I become more appreciative towards PAP n deeply respect Former PM Lee Kuan Yew.
  • Because of your Dad ,n HE produced a good Son there4 I am PROUD S’porean ^^
  • He is not only good but he is great.
  • 我们的国父,为我们的国家奉献了一切,我们永远敬爱你,祟拜你,祝愿你身体健康,为我们的国家加油,再次的忠心的謝謝你,我们的好囯父
  • 感谢前辈的艰辛付出!
  •  We must never be a normal country but an exceptional one. 
  •  If LKY and the first guards had lost, Singapore would not be what it is today. Salute! Salute! Salute!!!


Battle for Merger: PM LKY’s radio talk chronicling the subversive actions of the communists and their determination to scupper the proposed merger between Singapore and Malaya and most importantly topple the government in power, the PAP. 

He said: “While we only became an independent nation in 1965, our road to independence began earlier, with our attempt to forge a shared destiny with the then Federation of Malaya. Our hard-fought attempt to gain independence by merging with Malaya was in fact a battle for the future of Singapore. On the surface, it was a battle for merger. But this was only on the surface. Below the surface was another deeper, more momentous, more dangerous battle – that between the communists and non-communists in Singapore.

At the heart of this battle were two contrasting visions of how society should be ordered and how we should govern ourselves. It was not simply a fight to get rid of British colonial rule; rather, the communists and their allies had a larger agenda. Their objective was to impose a communist regime in Malaya and Singapore through all means, including subversion, and ultimately, armed revolution.”
Video link ->Battle for Merger: LKY’s radio talk on subversion by communists



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