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Taiwanese Perspectives of Political Developments in Singapore, 1955-1965

Taiwanese Perspectives of Political Developments in Singapore, 1955-1965

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Lecture by Jason Lim, University of Wollongong


In the 1950s, as several Southeast Asian states began the process of decolonization during the Cold War, Taiwan pursued an active anticommunist agenda in the region to win new allies in a diplomatic tussle with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and to contain the spread of communism. The KMT government also considered itself as the representative of all overseas Chinese, and Singapore is of particular interest as 75 per cent of its population is ethnic Chinese. This lecture will focus on the KMT’s two major concerns about Singapore: its political developments (including communist activities and perceived PRC influences), and the ethnic Chinese. Professor Jason Lim will examine how the Kuomintang (KMT) government in Taiwan monitored the decolonization process in Singapore, starting with the election of the Labour Front in 1955. Lim will also examine how the KMT government viewed internal politics in Singapore, the road towards full autonomy from the British in 1959, joining Malaysia in 1963 and Indonesia’s response through Confrontation, and independence in August 1965.  

Professor Jason Lim is a historian whose work focuses on China-Taiwan-Southeast Asia relations during the Cold War, and overseas Chinese history. Prior to joining academia in 2008, Lim was an archivist and oral history interviewer. Since then, he has worked as a lecturer at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore as well as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore from 2008 to 2010, before joining the University of Wollongong in September 2010. Lim has written two monographs on Chinese tea merchants in the Fujian-Singapore trade, and on the Chinese trishaw industry in Singapore. In 2016, Lim served as one of two editors of a book looking at Singapore's history from 1965 to 2015. Lim was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2022.