“Her passing is deeply mourned by everyone in Singapore,” he added.
Experts say the reason for the difference is that Singapore — ruled by Britain for 144 years until 1963 when it became part of Malaysia and then fully independent in 1965 — emerged from colonial rule relatively unscathed compared to some of the other former colonies.
The politicians have even given Britain measured credit over the years for establishing a justice system that has contributed to the modern prosperity of the city-state, now a thriving sovereign country and one of the richest in the world per capita. has its own head of state.
Parliament observed a minute’s silence on Monday out of respect for the late Queen. “Her Majesty was not only Queen of the United Kingdom, but also the head of the Commonwealth, a family of 56 countries around the world of which Singapore is a proud member,” said House Leader Indranee Rajah.
“In addition to the formalities and ceremonies associated with state visits, the Queen took the time and effort to get to know ordinary Singaporeans better,” she said.
And on September 19, the day of her funeral, state flags will be flown at half-mast at government buildings – at the behest of Prime Minister Lee.
Colonialism: Forgive and Forget
In Singapore, roads, neighborhoods and prestigious institutions such as government offices and hospitals still bear the names of British lords and various military commanders.
Queenstown, a bustling central district, the Queen Elizabeth promenade Walk and even Princess Elizabeth Primary School are named after Elizabeth II in commemoration of her coronation in 1953.
In 2019, Singapore held large-scale bicentennial celebrations with festivals and events to mark the 200th anniversary of the arrival of British statesman Sir Stamford Raffles and the British East India Company.
“Singaporeans, especially from the ruling elite, tend to have a rather benign view of Britain and its monarchy,” noted political scientist Ian Chong of the National University of Singapore, recalling the public interest surrounding visits of royals over the years.
The Queen herself was a guest three times: in 1972, 1989 and 2006. As part of Singapore’s diplomatic charm offensive, she named a cultivated orchid hybrid after her – grown from orchids native to Singapore and Papua New Guinea.
“In general, the views of Queen Elizabeth II and the British Royal Family are positive in Singapore,” Chong said.
“Some of this isn’t surprising, given that our exit from British colonial rule was a negotiation, unlike states that saw widespread repression and more violent endings of colonial rule.”
‘Romanticized for political reasons’
“The official story deliberately romanticizes (colonialism) for political reasons, while suppressing other perspectives,” said exiled journalist and historian Thum Ping Tjin, also a fellow at Hertford College, Oxford. Like other critics, Thum has questioned the admiration Singapore’s leaders have sometimes expressed for their colonial founders and the erasing of anti-colonial activism.
“Singapore is still governed by the same values, institutions and assumptions that underpinned British colonialism, so the government cannot reject or reject colonialism without also criticizing its own values, institutions and governance methods,” Thum said.
“In many ways, independent Singapore is an heir to the British colonial rules that we have adapted – we see this in everything from government housing plans, policies and specific laws,” said Chong the political scientist.
“Our politicians often point to the colonial system of laws and courts as an asset to our prosperity and stability. So colonial rule is generally seen as benign and a bedrock of Singapore’s wealth. Hence the festive atmosphere around (events like) the bicentennial celebrations in 2019.”
The Charles Effect
In November, Barbados, Britain’s oldest colony, deposed the queen as head of state and declared itself a republic.
But in Singapore, a republic that appoints a president – currently Halimah Yacob – as its own ceremonial head of state, Charles seems relatively popular.
When he was a prince, Charles was a well-known public figure to many Singaporeans. In 2017, he received the same Singaporean honor as the Queen and other dignitaries for having an orchid — the national flower — named after him and his wife Camilla, now the Queen Consort.
Experts now expect growth interest and curiosity of Singaporeans about England’s new monarch.
Memes of Charles among younger Singaporeans have already surfaced on popular local discussion boards, suggesting that the royal family’s legacy remains intact, at least for now.