Singapore's Foreign Policy 9789814376471

Discusses the major aspects of Foreign Policy and Foreign Relations Prior to Independence (1959-65), the Policy of Survi

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The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Established as an autonomous corporation in May, 1968, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies is a regional research centre for scholars and other specialists concerned with modern Southeast Asia. The lnstHute's research .interests are focussed on the many-faceted problems of Modernization and Development and Political and Social Change in Southeast Asia. The Institute is governed by a 24-member Board of Trustees on which are represented the University of Singapore and Nanyang University, appointees from the Government, a~ well as representatives ((om a broad range of professional and civic organizations and groups. A ten-man Executive Committee oversees day-to-day operations; it is ex officio chaired by the Director. the Institute's chief academic and administrative officer.

"Copyright subsists in this publication under the United Kingdom Copyright Act, 1911 and the Singapore Copyright Act (Cap. 187). No person shall reproduce a copy of this publication, or extracts therefrom, without the written permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore."



Kawin Wi1airat

FIELD REPORT SERIES NO. 10 Inst1tute o f Southeast As1an Stud1es


S$10 .00

The publication that follows is the tenth Fie l d Re por t of the Institute. This series was inaugurated in 1973 and embodies the research work of the Institute's staff and fellows. We very much hope Kawin Wilairat's analysis of "Singapore's Foreign Policy" will be of interest to not only the specialist but the larger public as well. In the meantime, while wishing Kawin Wilairat and his study all the best, it is clearly understood that responsibility for facts and opinions expressed in the work that follows rests exclusively with Mr. Wilairat, and his interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the Institute or its supporters. 2 J une 19 75

Di r~ ctor

Institute of Southeast Asi a n Studies

CONTENTS Page Foreword


List of Tables




Foreiqn Policy and Foreign Relations Prior to Independence (1959-65) The First Decade 1965-75: of survival


A Policy


Reqional Policy: Reconstruction of Global and Reqional Interests




74 104


v -


Singapore's Major Trading Partners, 1973



Foreign Investment in Singapore ' s Manufacturing Industries, 197l;and 1972


Singapore: Shared Membership with ASEAN Countries in Inter-Governmental Organization (1972)


Trade with ASEAN as a Percentage of Total Trade


United Nations General Assembly Resolutions on East - We s t Issues : Singapore's Percentage Index of Agreement


United Nations General Assembly Resolutions on No r th - South Issues: Singapore ' s Percentage Index of Agreement


Un1ted Nations General Assembly Resolutions on CoZoniaZ Issues : Singapore ' s Percentage Index of Agreement









Although it might seem that a country can only be to have a foreign policy and to be ~nvolved nsidered co ~n international affairs only after ~t has established itself as an ~ndependent and sovere~gn nat1on with sole author1ty over ~ts internal and external affairs, th1s was certainly not the case with Singapore . Her government and leaders enJoyed and often sk~lfully exercised certa~n external affairs powers during the six year peri od tl9 59-65 J when she was f~rst a l1mited selfgoverning state and then a part of the Federat1on of Malaysia. Even though foreign policy and defence matters were unt~l September 1963 the respons~b1lity of the Brit~sh Government, and thereafter transferred to the Malaysian central Government, Singapore developed her own informal relations with several foreign states dur1ng these years and her leaders debated international issues and enunclated their own positions . This unusual development was the result of the two main factors : the special circumstances and rather unique characterist1cs of Singapore , and the skill of Singapore leaders ~n ut~lizing and explo~ting certain const1tut1onal prov1sions and admin1strat1ve "media" during the l1mited self-govern~ng and merger periods. Beca~se of Singapore ' s strateg~c locat~on at the intersection of the major sh~pp~ng and air routes ~n Southeast Asia, foreign governments found her an important intell1gence centre and " d~plomat1c window" S1ngapore was 1n addltion the to the whole region. headquarters of the British Far East Mll~tary Command and the Brit1sh Commissloner-Gene ral for Southeast Asia. Thus soon after the Second World War, many governments opened consulates and commiss1ons on the 1sland and staffed them w1th sen~or d1plornatic personn~l. When Singapore became a l1mited self- govern1ng state ~n 1959 there were twenty-one fore1gn consulates and commissions in the state , and th1s number had grown to thirty by 1963.1 Local leaders therefore had access to di p l omat ~c m1ssions , and made useful contacts and gained valuable exper~ence 1n 1nternational d1plomacy.


State of Singapore, Commonwealth and For~~ gn Representatives as at July 1, 1959 and July 1, 1963 (Singapore : Secretary for External Affairs, Prime Minister ' s Secretariat) .

- 2 -

Singapore was also a popular place for foreign p olitical leaders to stop-over during their visits to other countries i n Southeast Asia, and Singapore leaders took every opportunity to meet and establish friendly contacts with them. Singapore leaders often "returned" these visits to further contacts and promote closer relations. More importantly, the ethnic background of her population (all of immigrant stock, some longer established than others) , the island:' s economic and political vulnerability to foreign influences, the relatively high literacy rate and ease of political communications were factors which made Singapore's politicians, businessmen, labour leaders, students and intelligentsia, sensitive and attentive to international politics. Even during the 1930s and 1940s, long before Singapore attained self-government, external affairs were the central concern of at least three local political organizations. The Kuomintang and Malayan Communist Party were each trying to drum up overseas Chinese loyalties to their causes in the Chinese homeland, and the Peninsula Malay Union was trying to advocate merger with Indonesia.2 In the early 1950s forums were set up for inter::-arty debates on what British policy should be in r egard to Singapore's defence, security and trade matters.3 After he came to office in April 1955 as the first elected Chief Minister of Singapore, David Marshall issued statements supporting the anticolonial and Third World principles formulated at the Bandung Conference.4 He led a trade and goodwill


These activities are described in Png Poh-Seng,"The Kuomintang in Malaya, 1912-1941," Journal of Southeast Asian His t ory, Vol. 2, No. 2 (March 1961), pp. 1-32; Rene Peritz, "The Evolving Politics of Singapore: A Study of Trends and Issues,"unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1964, pp. 38-74 .


Peter Boyce, "Policy ~Jithout Authority: Singapore's External Affairs Power," Journal of Southeast Asian History, Vol. 6, No . 2 (September 1965), p . 88.


David Marshall, Singapore's Struggle for Nationhood: 1945-1959 (Singapore: University Education Press, 1971), PP • 1-13.


3 -

mission to Indonesia in . l955, visited the People ' s Republic of China the following year, and obtained some international publicity in his unsuccessful constitutional talks in London in April and May of 1956. The closest " foreign" contacts in this period were with Malayan leaders for it appeared at this time that the only route to independence fo r Singapore lay in her .eventual association with the Federation of Malaya. On the day that Malaya officially became independent (August 21 , 1957)., the Singapore Legis lative Assembly sent a congratulatory message to the Federation Government which .stressed the "prime interest of both peoples to merge into a single political unit within which ,. .as one people with one outlook and purpose, all may share the joys and fruits of that happy state of Merdeka (Independence) • n S The Self-Governing Period (1959 - 63) Before the Second World War, the British had administered Singapore as a unit of the British Crown Colony known as the Straits Settlements (the other major units being Penang and Malacca}. In 1946, the territories compr ising the Straits Settlements were reorganized ; Penang and Malacca were joined with the nine Malay States in the Malayan Peninsular to form the Malayan Union which was .in turn .reorganized to constitute the Federation .of Malaya in 1948. Singapore continued to be a separate Crown Colony until 1959 when her status was considerably upgraded with the introduction , by the British of a new Constitution providing for an elected legislature and a government having control over all matters except defence, internal security , and foreign affairs.6 5

Singapore 1973 (Singapore:


For a concise constitutional history of Singapore see C. M. Turnbull, "Constitutional Development 1819- 1968," in Ooi Jin Bee and Chiang Hai Ding . (eds. ) Mode~. Singapore ~ (Singapore: University of Singapore, . l969), pp . 181~196 . For fuller works see L.A. Sheridan, (ed.), Malaya and Singapore~ the Borneo

Ministry of Culture, 1973), p. 42.

Territories : The Development of Their Laws and Constitutions (London:

Stevens, 1961), pp . 103-114, 153-173; S. Jayakumar,

Constitutional Law Cases from Malaysia and Singapore (Singapore: Malayan Law Journal, 1971), pp . 15-54, 137- 138 .

- 4 -

The local government of this new "Self-governing State of S1.ngapore" was granted, however, a limited competence 1.n 1nternat1.onal matters. Sect1.ons 73 and 74 of the new Const1.tution st1.pulated that: other the local act only of the


Trade and cultural relat1.ons were to be controlled by Singapore Government but l.t was to with the "assent of the Government Un1. ted K1.ngdom . "


The Un1.ted K1.ngdom could request the local government to " take , d1.scontinue or refrain from any action whenever 1.t 1.s of the opinion that the discharge of 1.ts responsibili ties for defence or external affairs so requires."


The Un1.ted K1.ngdom could delegate other aspects of 1.ts affairs respons1.bil1.ty to the local government.?

Further clarificat1.ons on the scope of the local government's competence 1.n internat1.onal relations

resulted in the follow1ng:



Singapore (i . e. the local government) was authorized to make agreements "of purely local concern" with Malaya , Sarawak, North Borneo , Brunei and Indonesia,


Singapore could also make ~rade agreements with other countries except 1.n establ1.shment and shipping matters. The establishment of representation by Singapore abroad o r by foreign countries in Singapore was a matter for the United Kingdom to after consultat1.ons with S1.ngapore.


Singapore could join any 1.nternat1.onal organizat1.on for which l.t was el1.gible .


Singapore was to be responsible foe perm1. tting and pr1.vate or official cultural, trade or commercial v1.sits to or from other countries.

"The Singapore (Cons r.itut:ion) Order in Council of November 1958," in Singapore Governmem; Gazette~ SuppLement~ No. 81, November 27, 1958 .

- 5 -

(5 )

In all of her actions under the above 1 Singap ore was required to keep the Br1t1sh Go vernment informed and 1f the latter felt that t h e y c o nfl 1 cted "in any way w1th the l n t ernational c o mmitments, pol icy or respons ib1 l it i es of [ the Un1ted Kingdom] or w1th their defe nse 1nte rest ," Singapore was to ab1de by the Br1t i sh dec is1o n "sin c e in 1nternat1onal law u l t i mat e respo n si bllity rests w1th the United K1ngdom. "8

In add1tion, the Singapore Go vernment wa s provided with t wo other c o nstitut1onal med1a f o r assert1ng influence on t h e Br1t1sh administration of h e r e xternal affa1rs. One v1 a s the Singapore Internal Secur1 ty Council on wh ich S1ngapo re was allowed three represent at i ves (three o thers were representat1ves of the British Governmen t an d o ne represented Ma l a y a ) . The oth er was the In t er-Governmental Commit t ee set up for cont i nuous consul t at 1on and discuss1on between the Britlsh and Singapore governments on fore i gn and defence ma tters affe ct lng S1 ngapore . 9 Th e S1n gapore Government thus had some opportunity t o p urs ue 1ts ow n 1nterests in fore1gn aff a irs dur1ng t h1 s se l f - govern1ng per1od.10 It especially made use of such means as parliamentary debates, off1cial recept 1ons a nd t ours and public statements to win


Singapore Government

Gaze~te ~


No, 14 ,

August 7,


9 10

Singapore 19?3, pp

45-46 .

It is interesting to note that be tween 1959 and i963 , the s elf-govern1ng St ate of Si nga pore c on cl uded several tre at 1es and agreement s a l be i t with t he " assent of the United Kingdom . " Examp les of such agreements were the 1963 Agr eement with Aus tral ia concernin g Treatmen t 1n Singapore Hospit a ls for As 1an Res ident s of Chr1stroas Island, ana the 1961 Convent1on for t he Avo i dan ce of Double Taxat1on wuh J apan . S1ngapore also became a party dur1ng this per1od to several rreat1es wh1ch were concluded by the British Government "after havi ng consulted , or having obtained the consent of~ the Sineapore Government." See S . J ayakumar, 0 Singapo r.e and St nt e Succession: Inte rnat 1onal Re lauons and. In refn.1.1 LiM, " Interna:tiohal. and Comparative. LCM Quar~erly ~ Vol 19 (July 1970) , pp. 406-407.

- 6 -

sympathy for its own objectives and to suppo rt causes such as certain independence and liberation movements. Both the United Kingdom and the People's Action Party (PAP), the first government of the new "selfgoverning State of Singapore ," open~y declared that Singapore ' s future - her economic prosperity and security - lay in ultimate merger with Malaya.ll Meanwhile during the "interim period" the PAP saw their main task to be the clarification of Singapore ' s relations with her two immediate neighbours ~ the Federation of Malaya and Indonesia - and throughout this period refrained from any foreign contacts which might have prejudiced their relations with Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.l2 The main objectives vis-a-vis Malaya was, as defined by Prime t.Unister Lee , to "establish Federation confidence in the PAP government" so that merger would ultimately be possible, and in the meantime to cooperate in trade and economic matters and to increase "cultural contact." The PAP also undertook a programme of "Malayanization" designed to bring Singapore closer to Malaya in language, culture and outlook.13 Only ten days after Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew formed his government (June 3, 1959) he and four of his colleagues paid their first official visit to Kuala Lumpur to establish closer relations with the


Singapore 1973, p . 44 .

12 One lapse was Lee Kuan Yew's failure to consult with and give advance notice to the Malayan Government on his trip to Moscow in October 1962, which resulted in a drop in confidence in Lee among Malayan leaders during a crucial period of Malaysian negotiations . See Alex Josey, Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore: D. Moore, 1968), p. 237; Straits Times (Singapore) , September 21, 1962, p. 3, and September 29, 1962, p . 1.

13 Singapore 1973, pp. 41-42 . See also Willard A. Hanna, SequeZ to Colonialism : The 195?- 1960 Foundat·ions for Malaysia (New York: American Universities Field Staff, 1965), pp. 110-117. This book is a valuable ~ompi lation of the author's on-the- spot observations and reports during this period .

- 7 -

Malayan Government.l 4 Toge ther with the Malayan leaders they issued an official communique stress1ng the friendly ties and close association between the two territories. Returning to Singapore, Lee declared that "merger with Malaya would be Singapore's only hope for complete freedom from· colonial ties" and that his government was moving "forward into the future confident that we sha ll advance the cause we all stand for, a more just and equal society in an independent, democratic, noncommunist, socialist Malaya."l5 As for Indonesia, the PAP leaders had been aware , from the start, of the growing Indonesian animosity to Singapqre. The major sources of contention were the use of Singapore as a sanctuary and .s upply base by rebel movements in Sumatra, and the lenient and rather cavalier attitude of Singapore officials towards the flourish1ng smuggling trade between Singapore and nearby Indonesian islands. Indonesian resentment had been exacerbated by the indifferent attitude of the postwar colonial authorities in Singapore and , in fact, the British Government particularly encouraged PAP initiatives in this area in the belief that the new "national" government had a better chance of improving the · situation.l6 The PAP leaders acknowledged the past failings of the colonial authorities and immediately set to work towards wiping the slate clean and initiating a new era In August 1959, a in S1ngapore-In donesian relations. forty-five member cultural mission . from Indonesia was invited to Singapore as a move toward "friendship and understandin g" and to "offset the record of suspicion and bickering that [had] marred Singa~ore-Indonesian relationship s in the last few years."l In January 1960, in one of his first state visits, Lee Kuan Yew led a goodwill miss1on to Jakarta and in a speech there declared:


Josey, Lee Kuan Yew, p. 105.


Ibid. , pp. 110, 118.




Singapore, LegisLative Assembly Debates , Vol. 12, July December 1959, Col. 16.


to ColoniaLism, p. 110.

- 8 -

In the past, when the government of Sinqapore consisted of British colonial officials, it was i nevitable that the spirit of mutual cooperation and camaraderie between the two governments was sadly lacking • . •. [But now] I feel that our relationship has undergone a fundamental change for the better ... ,1 8 Dur i ng his visit, Lee assured Sukarno that his qovernment would not allow anything detrimental to the security of Indonesia to be committed on its te~ritory, and also stated his support for Indonesia's claim to West Irian.l9 Indeed two years later, in January 1962, the Sinqapore Legislative Assembly passed unanimously a resolution gi vi ng Singapore's "whole-hearted support" for the struggle of the West Irian Liberation Movement and in July of that year a contingent of thirty volunteers waa sent by S~ngapore to join the Indonesian campaign.20 In August 1961, a Singapore trade and cultural office was opened in Jakarta, and trade between Singapore and Indonesia steadily increased in the years 1960 to 1963 in contrast to the drop in trade in the late 1950s.21 This period of Singapore-Indonesi an entent~ ended with Indonesia's official declaration, in January 1963, of hostility and confrontation against the format~on of Malaysia. Although Singapore at first maintained a "correct policy of cordial restraint," she was finally left with no alternative but to condemn Indonesian policy.22 In its first years in office the PAP Government tried to identify and associate itself as much as possible with the policies - such as anti-colonialism and nonalignment - of the Afro-Asian countries. It expressed firm support, throughout 1960 and 1961, for two African


Quoted in Hanna Sequa·Z to Colonial-ism , p . 163 .


Josey, Lee Kuan Yew , p . 136 .




Boyce, "Policy \Hthout Authority," p . 94.



Times~ January 27,

Times ~ February

1963, p . 20 .

1962, and July 10, 1962 .

13, 1963, p . 1, and February 27,




nationalist and liberation movements - ~n che Belg1um Congo and Algeria · - then very much in the news .l ) The Singapore Government .gave verbal suppo rc t o the leftist government of Joseph Lumumba 1n the new l y independent ··Congo Republic al'ld blamed western consp1r-atc r s for his death in Apri l 1961. Mass ral lies de n oun c~ ng intervention in the Congo by wesce rn governme n ts a nd their mercenaries were organized, and were attended a nd addressed bv Cabinet Ministers. In the Singapore Leg is lative Ass-&mbly, the Pr i me Minister moved a r esolution which expressed · "abhorrence at the c ol d-bl ooded murde-r ," called upon the United Nations t o bring the murdeiers to justice, c ondemned t he prese nc e of Belg i an r: roops , agents and mercenaries , and suppor t ed t he p r oposal to expel from the Congo a l l f ore i gn troops no t under Unl t cd Nations command.2 4 In March 1961, the Singapore Governmen t , des pite objections from the Brit i s h High Commi ssione r , or ganized a giant rally on the Padang . (the f iel d in fr ont o f C1ty Hall ) to welcome Ferhat Abbas, the Prime Mi n ~ster Jf tteProvisional Government o f Alger1a. 25 A relief fu n d was subsequently collected to support the Al g erian st·zogg J.e for independence . During these internal ly . self-governl ng year s , Singapore's relat ions wi t h Commonwe alth c o un t~ 1 e s we r e also cultivated and Lee Kuan Yew h imself, set o ut LO build what soon was t o become an i mpressi ve reputa t ion among Commonwealth leaders . Several 1l l us trations can be given of the growing c ontacts between Si ng ap ore a n d the Commonwealth dur i ng t his per~od. In April 196 0 , Walter Nash, t hen Pr i me M~n1s~ e r of New Zealand, ViSited Si ngapo re and was accor ded a state banquet by the Singapore Pr 1me Min i st e r . In tu~ st-.::ecn of welcome, Lee expressed the . v~ew that New Zacilar.d was an example of the succ.:essful wor k 1ng of t.t•e of parliamentary democ racy and hoped tha~ th~ two



Boy.c.e, " Poll.c.y Without Authority," p


Singapore, Legi s la tiv~: AssemJ::,iy JJebatttB , Vvl . 14, No-.·t:mb e: ~ 1960-July 1961, Col. 1034- 53.


Boyce, " Poli c y Without Autho r1 t y ," p . 98 ..

- 10 -

woul d have a closer and increasingly cooperative relationshi p i n the fu t ure . 26 In J uly 1961 , the Commonwealth Parliamentary As s oc i a ti o n Con fer enc e of Malaya , S ingapore, Briti~h North Bor neo , Sarawa k and Brunei met ~n Singapore. 7 Th e Conf erence set up a Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Commit te e t o promo te the establishment of Malays i a , and s ~ nga pore afterwards became one of the most a c t~ve p arti c ipants on the Cornmittee . 28 In September 1962, Lee Kuan Yew was invited to attend t he Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference held ~n Londo n as an " a dviser ," and he was , as in later conference s when he participated on more equal terms , well received by the o ther representatives . 29 In order t o promote better understandi ng, and t o gain the s ympa th y , diplomatic and moral support o f the non-aligned nat1 o ns for the Malays i a plan, Lee Kuan Yew undertook a m1s s 1on to Burma , India, Egypt and Yugoslavia i n Apr1l and May of 1962 30 He met w~th Ne Win , Nehru, Nasser and Tito and carefully expla1ned to them why it was the best course for Singapore to merge w1th Malaya to ach1eve ~ndependence . 31 In September 1962 Lee went to Carnbod1a for the same purpose and there he establ~shed a firm friendshlp with Si~ano u~. 3 2 All these trips we r e


Josey, Lee Kuan Yew, pp . 143-144.


I bi d, , pp


Ib~ d. ,


Ibid , p . 237


J osey, Lee Kuan Yew, pp . 213-215, 229-231 .


Th e transLript of Lee's ac count of his conversations with these leaders broadcast over the BBC on May 20 , 1962, is princed in the StPai ts Budget(Kuala Lumpur) , May 30 , 1966, pp . 5-6 .


Josey , Lee Kuan Yew, p . 237 .


Boyce , "Poli cy WHhout Authority," p . 98 ,

183-184 ,

pp . 210-211 ,

For a compilation of newspaper reports on Lee Kuan Yew ' s performance and activities at the 1969 London Commo nwealth Conferen ce, see Alex Josey , Lee Kuan Yew and the Commonwealt h (Singapore: Donald Moore Press , 1969).

- 11 -

made without consulting the Malayan Government and this - Lee's independent and individualistic approach to foreign affairs - was to later develop into a major source of friction between Singapore and the Federation Government during the merger period.33 As Indonesian hostility to the formation of Malaysia intensified in . the beginning of 1963 , Singapore's efforts to counteract Indonesian propaganda also increased. Four representatives, c.v. Devan Nair Jek Yuen Thong, Ot hman Wok and Rahim Ishak (now Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress, Minister for Culture, Minister for Social Affairs and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs respectively) were sent to the Thi r d Afro- Asian People ' s Solidarity Conference held in Tanganyika in January 1963, and a Singapore Committee .of the Afro-Asian Movement was set up . 34 It is not clear whether the Singapore Government ' s ventures into foreign affairs during this period were successful . In the long run the experience gained and the contacts made with foreign governments and leaders were to prove invaluable after Singapore was foreed out of Malaysia and had to stand on her own. But in the short run , one indicator which showed that Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues had not won over the non- aligned leaders was Malaysia ' s failure to obtain invitations to attend the Second Summit Conference of Non - aligned Countries held in Cairo in October 1964 and the abortive Algiers Fourth Afro-Asian Conference planned for June 1965. On the other hand , there is some evidence to show that Singapore's activities in the international arena were not altogether without success. In July 1962 , seventeen Opposition Assemblymen petitioned the United Na·tions Special Committee on Colonialism to send an observer to oversee the proposed national referendum on the Malaysian merger plans . At the Committee's hearing on the request , Lee Kuan Yew presented his government's position and successfully pe r suaded the


Boyce , "Policy Without Authority," p. 98.


Petir (organ of the PAP), April 14 , 1963 , p . 1; Singapore, Legislative AssembZy Debates, Vol. 20 , March- June 1963, Col. 494- 496 .

- 12 -

Comruttee to .rej ect the petit1on. 35 Re cognition must also be g1ven to the s ucces s which Lee had in " sel ling " hj_mse lf and his governme nt as acceptable partners in the Malays1a scheme and as acceptable negotiators o n the details of the scheme. The most controversial and dramatic action taken by the Singapore Gover nment in 1nternat1onal affa irs was its declar ation on August 31, 1963 , of S1ngapore's de faato i nde pe ndence and t hat the Yang di-Pertua n Negara (Head of State) of Singapore would hold the federal powers of defence and external affairs i n trust for the Central Government until the off1cial proclamation of Malaysia, by then postponed until September 16 . 36 According to the Ma laysia Agreement signed by Great Britain , Ma laya and Singapore in London o n July 8, 1963, Malaysia was to have come into being on August 31 , 1963. Due to Indones1an opposition and the Philipp1 ne cla1m to Sabah (North Borneo\ , the Malayan Govern ment agreed, at the Manila Conference of July 1963 , t o pos tpo ne the establishment of Malaysia beyond the nominated date. The delay 'vas to enable a United Nat1ons Miss1.on to assess public opinion in Sarawak and Sabah in order to meet Indonesian and Philippine obJeCtlons. The Singapo re Government was opposed to the postponement and to mark the occasion of the or1g1nal date for the establishment of Malaysia , a Malaysia Solidarity Day Mass Rally was organized and there Lee Kuan Yew made his announcement that: All Federal powers over defence and external affairs wi ll , as from today and until September 16, be reposed in our Yang diPertuan Negara. We look upon ourselves as trustees for the Central Government of Malaysia during these f1fteen days . We will exercise those powers 1n the interests of Malaysl.a.37 Observers agree that this dramat1c step was mot1.vated by and related to the inter nal political situation in


Josey , Lee Kuan Yew , pp. 213-214, 233-235 .

Straits Times , September 3 and September 4, 1963; Josey~ Lee Kuan Yew , pp . 264-266 ; Malay Mail , September 1 , 1973. 37 Josey, Lee Kuan Yew , p. 264 , 36

- 13 -

Singapore, to the unf1n1shed barga1n1ng 0 ver the financial terms of S1ngapor~'s merger w1cn Malaysia, and to Singapore's annoyance with Malaya'3 efforts to placate Indonesia.38 The announcement caused a great deal of consternatJ.on in Kuala Lumpur where an emergency Cabinet meeting was called to consider the sJ.tuation. The Malayan Government obJected to S1.ngapore ' s declar a t 1on and managed to persuade the Brit1sh Government to declare J.t unconstJ.tutional. The Singapore Governme nl, perhaps know1ng full well its political and constitut J. on a~ limJ.tat i ons , did not take any further action 1.n th J.s regard and "no attempt was made to 1nterfere with t he Br 1 t1sh m1l1tary conunand or to enshrine the dec~ arat1.nn c f 1ndependence in legal process or ceremony. " J Th e Malays1an Per1od ( 1963 -6 5 1 Dur1ng the twenty -three turbulent months of pa rt iclpation in Malays1.a, the PAP Govern or local government of S1.ngapore) was state m~ n t Cthe as a ct1ve, 1f not more, in externa l affairs as 1n the Constitutionally, according sGl f-gov per1od . t ~ t he terms of merger agreed to 1n July 1963 and lnco rpo rated 1n the Constitution of the Federation of Ma ~ ays1a Cand the new State ConstJ.tUtl.on of Singapore l S1ngapore gave up control over foreign affa1rs , defence and security t o the Central Government. 40 Th1.s , however d id not deter S~apom:!'~ leaders from cont their tnterests and actl.Vl.tles 1n what was essent1ally the Singapore ' s econom1.c d o ma1.n of the Central Government.

S~ngap o re's




i. Le1fer,

Fo:dc: rat ion,



Slngapore 1n Ma1ays1a:

the Pollti:.:s o i

Jow:rnal vf Southeast As-z.. an o ry ,

Vul. b.

L (Se ptember 1965), p . 57; Boyce, "Pc.. ll..:y \.Jl :hout 11 pp . 90-91 Av th e r ity, Nu

Je : The PoLitics of Survival 1965-1967 (Sin ga pore : Oxford Univeroit y Press, 19 71), p. 1 . Th1.s t heme ap pe ared again and agdin in the speeches o f the PAP l e aders and govern-


30 -

It seemed that, in the words of Foreign Minister Rajaratnam, "a small city-state without a natural hinterland, without a large domestic market and no raw materials to speak of had a near-zero chance of survival politically, economically or militarily."3 Lee Kuan Yew, himself, had stated, in 1957 when Singapore was still a British col6ny, that in the context of the twentieth century a separate and independent Singapore was "a political, economic and geographical absurdity."4 Another consequence of Singapore's unexpected initiation into independent nationhood was the great · concern her leaders had (and still have) with formulating · a clear image of the international environment, realistically conceptualizing the issues confronting them, and systematically articulating their national interests and policies. The PAP leaders had, of course, gained a great deal of experience in foreign affairs and had devoted considerable thoughtto foreign policy questions prior to separation. But since August 1965, Singapore's foreign affairs spokesmen have put deliberate effort into making clear the basic premises, the immediate goals and the long-range aspirations of Singapore's foreig~ policy (and have, in fact, been quite prplific at it).5 From

ment officials throughout the 1960s. See for example the speeches by Lee Kuan Yew in late 1965 and early 1966 in Alex Josey Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore: Donald Moore Press, 1968), pp . 432-457; the speeches of various ministers reprinted in The Mirror in 1965 and 1966; and the radio talks given by scholars and officials reprinted in George G. Thomson (ed.), Singapore's International Relations (Singapore: Lembaga Gerakan Pelajaran Dewasa, 1966). 3 S. Rajaratnam, "Singapore: Global City," an address delivered to the Singapore Press Club on February 6, 1972. 4

Colony of Singapore, Legislative Assembly March 5, 1957, Col. 1471 .


See for example: Lee Kuan Yew, "Basis of Singapore's Foreign Policy," The Mirror~ August 14, 1965 and October 21, 1965, and his speech We Want to Be Ourselves (Singapore: Ministry of Culture, 1966), given at a seminar on international relations at the University of Singapore on October 9, 1966; S. Rajaratnam's speech on Singapore's foreign policy before Parliament in Republic of Singapore, Parliament~ Debates~


Vol. 2,

- 31 -

these statements it would appear that the "philosophy" or " precepts" of Singapore ' s fore ign policy "which will always rema1n unaltered despite necessary adjustments 1n pol1cy " would include the following four basic prem1ses.6 First , reflect1ng the government ' s ever constant awareness o f ~he physical constraints , the economic vulnerab1l1t y and the "immigrant image," of the 1sland republic, 1s the bel1ef that Singapore 's surv1val as a nat1on mean s mak 1ng as many friends and as few ene mies The S1ngapore Head of State , Yusof b1n as poss1ble. Ishak, in h1s f1rst pol1cy address to the new S1ngapore Par liament emphasi zed that: Our surv1val as a people , d1st1nct and separa te from our ne i ghb ours 1n Southeast As1a , depends ... upon having the min1mum number of unfriendly countries and the max1mum number of friend ly ones ... . We must never be 1solated and left friendless 1n Southeast Asia , in a S1ngapore encircled by a hostile sea of communal and obscurantist forces . 7 was reiterated by Prime Minister Lee in a major fore1gn pol1cy statement:



The fore1gn policy of Singapore must ensure regardless of the nature of the government lt has from time to ~ime , that this

Vol. 24 , DtLembe r 16 - 17 , 1965 , Cols 249-259 , 285- 296, and his rc.d~v broadcast on "The Premises of Our Fore~gn Policy , " on April 5, 1968 repnnted 1n Alex Josey, The

Repuh lie of Singapore General Elections 1968 (Singapo re: Donald Moo re, 1968), pp . 53-57; A. Rahim Ishak's "Fure 1gn PolL:y Based on Sound Prem1ses ," The Min>or ., December 23, 1968 , p. 4, and h1s "Non-Ahgnment , Southe:as t Asia and ," in Seminar on Southeast Asta Toa.ay , Min1stry of Educati on , 1970). A~gvet 24 - 30 , 1910 (Si ngapore: Crocial .Years Ahea d :


S . RaJarat nam , "The PremisE:s of Our Foreign Poli c y , " p 53 , and A. Rah im Ishak, "Foreign Policy Based on Sound Premises ," p 4


Republ1c ur Singapore , Parlia~ntaPy Uebates , Vol . L~ , December 8, 1965 , Cols . S-14 .

- 32 -

mi gra nt c ommunity that brought in life, vitality , a nd enterprise from many parts of t he wo rld should always find an oasis here wha te ver happe ns in the surrounding environment .. .. We want to b e ourselves. Those who want to thwart us and prevent us from being ourselves must necessarily be nonfriends. Therefore, our policy is to seek the maximum number of friends with the maximum capacity to uphold what our friends and ourselves have decided to uphold. That is the beginning and the end of any foreign policy for a situation like Singapore 's.S A corollary belief is that the friendship of any c o untry c a nnot be taken for granted and that there is a nee d for making conscious and concentrated efforts to cultivate the goodwill of others, and that there are no such things as permanent friends or enemies . In Lee Kuan Yew ' s words, "This is a very fast-changing world. It i s astonishing how friends of yesterday become enemies of today; how enemie s of today become friends of tomorrow. And through all this, one must always recognize who are likely to be friends for a l o ng time and v1ho are likely to be friends for just a s ho rt while . . . . "9 An o ther corollary to this first premise is that Singapore's future s ecurity must be based on a "multilateral underpinning ," and every effort must be made to convince as many powers as possible to see a v es ted interest in the continued existence of a v i a b le and independent Singapore . According to the P r i me Minitter : The foreign policy for Singapore must be o ne t o enco urage ... the major powers in th is worl d t o find it - if not in their i n te r es t s t o h el p us - at le as t in their i nte re s t s not to have us go worse .•.• We must a l ways offer to the rest of the world a continui ng interes t in t h e typ e of s o ciety we p roject,lO


Lee Kuan Yew, We Want to Be Ourse Lves, pp . 7-9.


Quo ted in Jos ey , Lee Kuan Jew, pp. 427-428.


Lee Kuan Yew, We Want to Be OurseLves, p. 9.


33 -

What ia envisaged for Singapore 1s a st ra t e g1 c and economic •linch-pin• role in Southeast Asia, a •spark pluq• and •essential component• for the susta1ned development and stability of the reg1on, in whose survival countries both ins i de and outs1de the region would have a The second bas1c premise of S1ngapore' s f o r e 1gn policy is that the cont1nued prosperity, and indPed economic survival, of the republic depends upon increasing 1 her trading partners, divers1fylng her ov e r s n ,1 ~ markets, and attracting foreign 1nvestments. Althoug h it was recogn1zed in the late 1950s that S1nga p o r~ ' s economy could no longer be sustained, as 1t had been for over 140 years, by its traditlonal entrepOt t r ade . and a "rapid export-orien ted indust r 1 ali za t 10 n p r og r .l:int' was launched in 1961, the need to restruct u re the Singapore economy and reduce 1ts dependence o n th e region was made more urgent in the 1960s by a seri es of economic setbacks and the increas1ng deterrn1nat1 o n of Malaysia and Indones1a to develop thelr a~n po rts and trading facilities so as to by-pass the "S1ngapo r e middle-man." l2 There was also the realization that "tunes a r e changing," and "as Singapore's role as the tra d1 ng city of Southeast Asia becomes less and l ess 1mpo r tant " she w1ll have to transform herself 1nto a new k 1nd o f city - "the Global City" - which 1.nter l 1nked w1th other such, through instantaneou s cabl e and satellite communicatio n, modern modes of sh1pping a nd transportati on and an internationa l f1nanc1a l netwo r k , will have access to the world for a market and a hinterland . l3 Thus upon separat1.on from Malays1a , t he S1ngapo r e Government declared itself uncornm1tted t o any bi O C and


See speeches by Lee Kuan Yew in Josey . LeeK~' Y~w~ pp ~ ~ J 428; and S . Rajaratnam. "Exercise in Surv1val." The ~.." r! · . :· ~ July 4, 1966 , p . 4


The economl c misfortunes lnc luded the Ind one s 1an t t adc boycott dur1ng Confrontation, the failure o f the Ma l bya l an Common M.rket proposal&, and the unexpe c ted a c~ clara t c d British allitary withdrawal from Singapore .


See S. Rajaratnam'a speech "Singapore:

Gl oba l Cit y "

- 34 -

open to trade and commercial relat1ons \>lith all nations regardless of ideology or political system . In his first press conference as the Prime Minister of an independent Singapore , Lee Ku a n Yew stated: . . . v1e o ught to trade wi th every country in the world . .. • v1e don 't want to be anti Communist nor have we any intention to allow Communists to bring us down • .. . That having been said, like Britain, we can trade with the world, including Russia, China and Indonesia , if they want to trade with us.l4 The third premise of Singapore ' s foreign policy has to do with the value of being identified with the non- aligned countries and the "new nations of AfroAsia. " This basic foreign policy position had been articulated (as described above) as early as 1959 , wh e n the PAP formed the first government of the self-governi ng State of Si ngapore, and had been consistently advocated from the opposition benches \·Jhile Singapore was a part of ~alaysia. According to Prime Mi nister Lee: If we can identify ourselves with the mass of new nations that have emerged with their ideals and their ideas of what a new modern forward-look ing nation of the twentieth century should be , then the risk we run of being used as a pawn and destroyed is that much diminished.l 5 Our attitudes were formulated in the earl y 1950s, on the basis that Russia is there to stay , and China is there to stay . ... Similarly with Britain and the West - they are there . We want to trade with the m. We want to live with them . But we want to stay out of either the East or the West . . •. . We have gone through the Dulles Phase, when nonaligh~ent was an immoral act. I think [the Great Powers] now realize . • . that non1nvolvement of countries like Singapor e ,

14 Lee Kuan Yew , "Basis of Singapore's Foreign Policy," p . 2. 15

Lee Kuan Yew, We Want to Be


p. 9 .

- 35 -

and even Malaysia, may be in their longterm interests. And that will suit us fine. 16 However, the concept of non-alignment or "pos itive neutralism" (a term the Singapore Government has used) has been interpreted by Singapore to suit her own situation and circumstances. Considerable attention, therefore, has been given by her foreign policy spokesmen to ensure the correct understanding of Singapore' s position . As the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, A. Rahim Ishak, has often stated, Singapore's policy of non-alignment does not mean non-commitment and "does not preclude us from expressing our own conviction on specific issues baaed on our own judgement on the effect it would have on our international relations . "!? Furthermore, nonalignment for Singapore, ••• does not mean rigid neutralism •.•• This distinction must be understood , otherwise we may be unjustifiably and mistakenly represented by the misinformed or the mischievous that we follow one bloc or another in making known our stand on certain important issues from time to time. When we express our conviction and our opinion on any specific issue we do so purely on the merits of the case and in the light of our national interest first and foremost, and not because we follow one power bloc or another as such.l8 Non-alignment for Singapore primarily means staying out of "any competition, or conflict between the power bloea," but where the "survival, security, or prosperity" of "an independent, democratic, non-communist S1ngapore (including Malaysia)" is threatened, she "cannot be neutral."l9 Following from this Singapore insists that Quoted from a televised interview in December 1965, in Josey, ~. Kuan Yew~ p. 426. 17 A. Rahill Iahak, "On Non-Alignment." in Singapore News letter (publiabed by the Singapore Permanent Mission to the United Nationa), January 31, 1969, p. 5. See also A. Rahim Ishak. "Non-Alianment, Southeaat Asia and Singapore."


18 A. R.ahill Ishak, "On Non-Alignment:" 19

rroa atateaent• made by the Prime Minister, in Josey, Lee Kuan I•w~

pp. 601, 608.

- ::. o -

her non -al1g ned posi tion is n ot i ncompatible with her defence ties with ANZUK, and has t ake n pains to explain to the other non-aligned nations that the ANZUK military presence in Singapo re is only for her defence, does not constit ute a threat to any other power , and would not be invo l ved in a ny cold war military set-up such as SEATO. 20 The final basic promise of Singap0 re's foreign policy i s the acceptance of certain constraints and l1mitat1ons on her foreign r elation s stemming from her shared , and i n ma ny ways i n sepa~able, security and defence 1nterests with Malaysia. The interdependence o f these interests was recognized in their Separation Agreement which stipulated , among other things, that each party woul d "undertake not to enter into any treaty or agreement with a foreign country which may be detrimental t o the 1ndependence and defence of the territory of the other. "21 In addit1on , Singapore clearly has a very special and complicated relationship with Malaysia based on their common British colonial heri tage and their very real geographical nexus (Singapore's natural harbours complement1ng the Malayan Pen1nsula ' s natural resources) - and the poss1b1lity of eventual re-merger howeve r remo te it may appear at the moment . This special relationship was frankly d1scussed by the Foreign Minister in his first statement before Parliament, which is worth quoting i n detai 1: 20

Se e statements by Lee Kuan Yew reported in the Straits Times , January 2, 1966, p . 2 . After separation in 1965 Deputy Premier Toh Chin Chye and Fore1gn Minister Rajaratnam led a goodwill mission to nine African nations, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union "to dispel any false image of Singapore as an anti - communist bastion and armed stronghold of British 1-mperialism . '' See Stroits Times , Novemb er 17, 1965, p. 1, and the FEER Yearbook (1 966), pp . 288-289 .


Arti c le V (4) of the Separati on Agreement of August 7 , 1965. A c onsequen ce of this was Singapore's delib e r ate delay in the establishment of diplomatic relations with Indonesia (in September 1967) and Russia (in June 1968) until the endi ng of Conf r ontation in the former case and diplomatic relations had been agreed to between Malays1a and Russia in the la tt er . See Lau Teik Soon, "Malaysia-Singapore Foreian Rel a ti ons 1n Southeast Asl.a 1965-1970," unpublished Ph . D. di ssertation , Australian Na tional Unive rsity , 1971, Ch. 4 and 7.

- 37 -

The most important aspect of our foreign po licy is our relations with Malaysia •. • • There is something unreal • .• about lumping our relations with Malaysia under foreign Constitut ional forms are relations .... o ne thing and the hard facts of history , geography , economics and demograph y are another . All these latter f acto rs unde~line not the separaten ess or forei g nness o f the two territori es, but the oneness of the people in the two countries . People on both sides of the Causeway have not since August 9 even begun to t re at one another as foreigner s. I have And I do n ot think they ever w1ll • ... [and I] . • . Malaysia n i brother a and my parents s. foreigner as them regard to myself bring ot cann and hundreds for goes this I am qu1te sure thousands like me on both sides of the Causeway . So one cannot talk of a foreign policy towards Malaysia in the same sense as we would in regard to other countries . It must be a fo r e1gn policy of a special kind, a foreign pol1cy towards a country which , though constitut 1onally foreign, is essential ly one w1th us and which, when logic and sanity reassert themselve s, must once more become o ne . ... It must be a foreign policy based on the realizatio n that • .. the survival and wellbe1ng of Malaysia is essential to Singapore 's survival . Conversel y , the survival and well being of Singapore is essential to Malaysia' s s ur v1val . ..• Malaysia can be assured that we w1ll not use our sovere ign ty 1n such a way as to jeopardiz e their interests - their genuine and ultimate interests - because we are well aware that \ole have a vi tal stake in the we 11being and security of Malays1a . 22 A related consider ation has to do with the acute awareness Singapore leaders have of the rather unfavourable image the city- state has hitherto proJected i n Southeast Asia - that of an Overseas Ch1 nese enclave or a "third China ," full of grasping middle - men , l1ving off


Republic of Singapore , Parliamenta ry Debates , Vol . 24, Decembe r 17, 1965 , Cols. 292- 295.

- 38 -

the resources of i ts neighbou rs , >T alternatively · an o utoost of Br i ti sh colonial and western neocolonial int ere s ts obs tructin g the e co nomic development of the reg io n. In o r der to ensure a st~t le and secure future f o r Si ngap o r e ~s an independent ~ public in the region, i ~oo rtan ce is p lac ed o n the cor r~c tion of this •distorted ~ nd rral i c 1o us " inage and the b reaking down of the past ~ psycho l o g ical b arriers" between Singapore and her two i nnP.diate ~alay nei ghbours . Thus although the population of Singapore is now 78 \ Chinese , o fficial statements and publications stress th e multi -racial aspects of the state and Malay i s s til l maintained as the national language.23 Since 1965, Singapore ' s leaders have also consistently pointed t o the d1m1n1shi ng r ole of the traditional entrep6t trade i n t he 1nd ustriall zing S1ngapore economy, to the contributi ons o f Singapore services and capital to the dev el opme nt of her neigh bou r' s economies, and to the 1mpo rt a nce Si ng apore places o n their concomitant growth and pro spe r ity. Dwelling on this theme, Goh Keng Swee, the Defe nce '"H ni ster, obse rved:·

... [Sl ngano re provided] and continues to p r o vide ef ficien t se rvices by way of trade rela t 1o ns , ftnan ce,insurance, shipping, communi c ation s , banki ng and development c ap 1. ta 1 . It 1.s regrettably too often f o r got ten th a t a great deal of development i n Sing apo re's economic hinterland was f1nanced by Singapore capital a2~ nurtured by S1 ngapore management skills .

Alt ho ug~ these four above premises have remained fu nd dr\ental bas1s of S1ngapore's foreign policy s1nce 19 6), t h ls po licy has undergone a discernible evo lut1 on over the decade of Singapore's independent

U \e

A l te r

t h~

dea th ot the f irat President of the Republic,

Yu& o r bin l iih ak. a Ma.lay, in 1970, an Eurasian, Benjaain Sh e•re s , wa~ c hoaen t o succeed htm .

Goh ~~n g Sv~e, i.n a 196 7 speech, in his T'lts EOCMomia. of .\t.l..!..., i JS at Z:.:m Ot her EsaCllJe (Sin&apore: Aaia Pacific P ru s , 1912 ) • p. 2 3 .

- 39 -

existence. This evolution, however, has not been so much in the form of distinct chronological periods with one objective replacing another but reflect, rather, shifts in emphasis and priority among the various objectives. There have been four such shifts or stages in the period 1965-1975 and these will be summarized here and further discussed in the following sections.25 In the first stage, Singapore's dominant concern was with establishing her credentials among the nonaligned and Afro-Asian countries. Immediately after separation, Singapore enunciated a policy of nonalignment and declared herself willing to trade with all nations which respected her sovereignty, be they communist or capitalist. A diplomatic campaign was then launched to gain acceptance among the leading nonaligned and Afro-Asian countries. A good-will mission led by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister was sent to tour nine African states, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, India and Cambodia in October 1965 "to dispel any false image of Singapore as an anticommunist bastion and armed stronghold of British imperialism" ~ and the following year the Prime Minister, himself, undertook a similar mission to Cambodia, Thailand, Egypt, Sweden and five East Europ~an countries.26


For studies on Singapore's foreign policy in general see: Peter Boyce, MaLaysia and Singapore in International · ReLations : Doaumen ts and Corrmen tanes (Sydney : sydney University Press, 1968); Chan Heng Chee, "Singapore's Foreign Policy, 1965-1968," Journal of Southeast Asian History~ Vol. 10, No. 1 (March 1969), pp. 177-191; Dick Wilson, The Future Role of Singapore (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1972); Seah Chee Meow, "Singapore's Foreign Policy in Southeast Asia: Options for National Survival," Paaifia Corrmunity ~ Vol. 4, No. 4 (July 1973), pp.535-551; Lau Teik Soon, "Malaysia-Singapore Foreign Relat i ons . "


Both missions lasted two months. The African states visited were Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco; the five East European countries were Bulgaria, Czechosolvakia, Hungary, Poland and Rumania. For details of the mission see: Republic of Singapore, Parliamentar.y Debates~ Vol. 24, pp. 167-169, 213-214; Vol. 25, pp. 117121; The ~rror~October 9, 1965, November 29, 1965; the FEER ·Yearbook (1966), pp. 288-289.

- 40 -

That ~hi s would be t h e i n 1t1al dire ction of Singapore ' s foreig n pol i cy was ne t s u r prising in view of the pre-separation statmen ts and s entime nts o f Singapore's leaders .2 7 Al so not surprisi ng was Singapore ' s re sort to a "b arrage o f radical rh e t o ric" and " str1 dent Afro-Asian stances" to of f se t the widespread Afro-Asian suspicion o f her British military installat1ons and her Ove r seas Chinese a nd western b usiness and capital . 28 tfuat was unexpecte d was the "ex treme anti-we s tern and a nt i-American pos ture " that the Singapore Gove r nment took dur i ng the first eight months of Singapore' s i n depe n de n ce . On several occasion s , in fact , Lee Kuan Yew made it clear that if or when the Br1tish t erminated t hei r de fence commitment to the repub li c he would p r efe r the Russians to the Americans as a replacemenL.2 9


On ma ny cccasions , for example , Lee Kuan Yew h ad declared

that Cambodia ' s "policy of neut rality" was a model f or other small countries to emulate. In his fi r st pr ess confe r ence after separation , Lee announced that his poli cy would be the same as Prince Sihanouk ' s and that Singapore ' s pos ition vis -~1..lis "bigger neighbour s " was the same as Cambodia ' s. See The Mirr-o~ , August 14 , 1965 , p. 1 ; and Josey , Lee Kuan Yew~ pp . 237, t.60 , 613 . See also S . Rajar atnam " Singapor e ' s Big Power Policy Same as Cambodia's , " i n the Straits Times,. November 26, 1969, P · l.


Chan He ng Chee, "Singapore ' s Foreign Policy ," pp. 180-181. See also Willard A. Hanna , "The Impo r tan ce of Being AfroAe ian , " AUFS Reports : Southeast As,ia Series ~ Vol. 12, No. 11 (Decembe r 1964).


See Straits Times ~ Septembe r 1 and 4 , 1965 ; New York Times ~ Sept ember 17, 1965 . Chan Heng Chee in "Singapore ' s Forei gn Policy ," pp . 181-182, has described one much discussed ant iAmerhan outburst: "Towards the end of August, dur i ng a te l evisio n interview, Lee served no t i ce to the Br i tis h authorit1es that the British troops could be orde r ed t o ' qutl ' the island to~ithin ~.Jenty- f~ur hours i f h is gove rnment so de c id~d. Then •·Jith even greater drama the Prime Min is ter launLh Pd a sensa tional attack on the United States Central Intelli~ence Agency (CIA) . He accused the CIA of a tt empti ng to C'bt:,, n throu~h fi n; encouragel"lent secr et informa t i on f r om ~ ~t ngaQo re Gove rnment security officer. When the i ncide nt \"as dis cove re d, the U. S. Government offered S$10 million to ·Singapor e for economic deve l opme nt to 'hush up ' the af fair. The dramati c nature of t he denouncement and Wash i ngton' s initial


41 -

Bes1des the need to demonstrate its 1ndependence and to proJect a proper n o n-aligned a nd Afro-Asian image , observers have speculated that the S1 ng apore Government actually took th1s position to deter the Brit1sh from th1nk1ng of W1thdrawing. 30 After a n 1nt erv1ew with Lee , one comme ntator wrote that the g overnme nt' s pos1t1on reflected a fear th at Brita1n m1ght become d1sillusioned and w1thdraw and that America m1ght 1ntervene 1n Ma l ay s 1a w1th t he same d1sastrous effect a s 1n V1etnam.31 Lee Kuan Yew d1d, in fact , make several statements during th1s period to the effect that S1ngapore ' s surv1val depended very much o n the British bases.32 It was also clear that the S1ngapo re Government was se n si t i ve t o the fact that these bases accounted for over 40,000 jobs and contr1buted to a quarter of the 1sland's GNP. The S1 ngapo re fears conce rn1 ng Brit1sh m1l1tary withdrawal were re a l1zed in July 1967 when the Brit1sh Labour Go vernment announced that 1t intended to reduce the number o f 1ts f o rces in S1ngapore a nd Malaysia b y one half over a per1od o f four years a nd to completely withdraw from 1ts bases the re by the m1d 1970s .33 The de nia l ond la t e r humiliating admission exagge r a t ed t he e plSode 1.nto a magnifi c en t scandal." 30

Chan He ng Chee- "Singapo re ' s Foreign Poll ey , " pp


182-18 3 ;

i n In ternat~ona~ Diplomacy 3 pp . 158- 159; Wilson, The Future Role of S~ngapore , pp . 26 , 31 .

Boy~ e , Malays~a



K. G Tr cgonning i n The BuZletin (Sydney) , Septembe r 25, 1965 , reprinted in The Mirror , Oc tobe r 2, 1965 , pp. 6 , 8. An Ameri c an Ambassador was not sent t o Singapo r e unt il Sepj:embe r 1966 dnd Si nga po re dld not appo int an Ambas sa do r t o Washington unti l Apri l 196 7.

32 Josey , Lee Kuan Yew, pp . 437, 438, 561, 5o 7- 579 . 33

The s t eps le adi ng t o t he Britis h dec i sions to Withd raw mil it ati ly from Malaysia and S1 ngap on: are comp r ehen::.ivt:ly E:xamined 1n the fo llowi ng: Ph11lip Da rb y , 8-ntt eh Deferu:X' Policy East of Suez , 194 7- 1968 (London: Oxfo rd Uni ve t s l t) Press , 19 73) ; David Hawkins , The Defen~t of Ma laysia ~!d Singapor e: From AMDA to ANZUK ( London: ~oy a l Unite d Se rvices Ins titu te f o r Defence Studies, 19 72) ; L W Martin, B~it~sh Def ence Pol~cy: The Long Recessional , Adelphi Pa pe r s No 61 (London: In s titut e f o r Strategi c Studi es , 1969 ) , T. B. Mi llar (ed ) , B~t~n ' s W~thdrawaL from As~a· It& Implications for Strategic and De f e nce Studi es Centre, Aus t ~ l~ ( Canberra: (Austral1an National University , 196 7) .

- 42


economic and security problems this c reated for Singapore reached crisis proportio ns when only •ix months later, in January 1968, the British Government decided to speed up withdrawal a nd t o complete it by 1971. By this time, however, SJr1links, "Malaysia and the Commonwealth : An Inquiry into the ~ ature of Commonwealth Ti es , " in Wang Gungwu (ed . ) , l1alayaia : A Surve y (Ne~oJ York: Praeger , 1964) , pp . 375- 399.


For a general discussi on see Peter Boyce ," The Bonds of Culture and Conunonweal th in Southeas t Asia," Journal of Southeast Asian Studi es, Vo l. 2, No .1 O.farch 1971) , pp. 71-77.


Yusof b in Ishak in Re public of Singapo re , Parliamentary Debate s , Vol. 24, "'io . 1 , Cols. 18-19 .

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Although Singapore 's trade '"ith Britain has been affected by the latter' s ent:rv i nt o the European Economic Community in January 197 3 (and the subsequen t gradual eliminati on of the Commonwea lth Preferenc e System) total tr ade still grew f rom S $975 million in 1972 to S$1,245 million in 197 3 , a 28% increase.9 7 Britain in 1973 still remained Singapore 's fourth largest trading partner accountin g for 6% of her total external tr ade. Moreover, Br i t ish investme nt in manufa cturing in Singap ore almost doubled from 1971 (S$245 In 1972 Brit ain was millio n) t o 1972 (S$344 million). the second largest foreign investor in Singapore 's ma nufact~ring sector, with 18.3% of the total foreign investment.98 Singapore , fur thermore , received more than S$55 million of British e conomi c assis t ance (in t he form of l oans and grants) in 1972.99 Trade between Singapore and Aus tral ia and New Zealand have been sma ll er than the Singapore -Britain trade, but together they form an important component in Singapore 's external trade. The Singapore -Australia trade has shown a cons istent growth over the last five years, rising from S $306 million i n 1968 to S$771 million (In 1973 Australia ranked as Singapore 's in 1973.100 seventh largest trading partner). The Singapor e - New Zealand trade has not been as large , but has been increasin g, especiall y sin ce 1970, and is expected to grow much more as New Zealand seeks to diversify her export markets for h er dairy and produce following Britain's entry into the EEC . From 1968 to 1973 , t o tal Singapore- New Zealand trade grew from S$47 mill ion to S$120 million.l Ol Australia n and Neh' Ze al a nd i nve stments 97

Singapor-e Trade and Industry (May 1974) , pp. 69, 1 21. Useful data on Singapore ' s net loss in trade and earnings due to Britain's entry into the EEC is to be found in Benj amin Chan , "Trade Between Singapo re and the United Kingdom 1963-1972," unpublished academic exercise, University of Singapore, 1974, Appendix A.


"Focus on Singa pore ," FBER , Augus t 13, 1973, p. 20.


"Focus on Bri tain in As ia," FEER , November 22, 1974, P· 11.


Sinrapo ~ Tr~

1974, p. 121.

101 Ibi d.

and Industry (April 1970), p. 95, and May

- 64 -

in Singapore have been small compared to the large investing c o untries such as the u. s., Br1tain, the ~qth e r lands , ,J a Dan, Hong Kong, '· !~ ] ays ia and West Ger~anv (wh ich to0ether account for 87% of total f n r eign investment in Singapore) . But of the smaller investing countries, Australia and New Zealand rank first and tenth re s pect i vely.l02 Singapore's strategic relat1ons with these three old Commomvealth countries are an important. thollgh some~-That diminishing, component of her mili ta:cy and defence policy. Nhen Singapore ~1as a part of Malaysia, her security and defence were covered by the 1957 Anglo· ·Malayan (later Malaysian) Defence Agreement. After the separation in August 1965 , these defence arrangements with Britain continued pendi ng a new agreement in which not only Singapore , Malaysia and ~ rlt~in, but also Australia and New Zealand would be part~cipants. It was also written into t h e declaration o.c :.; c~,,ration bet\veen Singapore and Malays i a that a mutual defence a c;r reement would be negot:i.ated. 103 This never materialized, and it was, in fact, six years before the flve po,ver agreement was eventually concluded j_n April 1971. The 1971 ag ree'fTlent, known as the Five Power Defence Arrangements, is not a formal pact but an evolving (and hence frequently misinterpreted) understanding that the parties involved will coordinate their individual defence measures and thereby compensate for the British militarv Yithdrawal which was at first (in 1967) tntended to be total but since 1970 provides for a continuing "limited presence . "l04 The key clause in the agreement was the declaration by the five govern ments that:

102 103

"Foc:us o n Singapcre," FEER , August 13, 1973, p. 20. Art1cl e V o f rhe Separation Agreement of Aug~at 7, 1965. Gove:r•nment Gazette Extraordinary _, Vol. 2, 1 _,, 66, A \I('IJ !'> t 9, 1965.

· · ceS' i~l qaport:

J ')4

·..:~ ; n ·:.... n ~'.:1h h.=t::.

po i nted out that the more a c.t: urate

cen'l 1s th e "r:" ivc f) o•..rer De fence Arrangements" since two ·:P"f r~ r·~nt s e.-ts r> + ·•·: ... c- ·~ "lents are involved, one bet\!een the A~JZUK Oc.>l.olt:r~ and Singapore, and the other between the

.cial. Bulletin~ Vol. 2, No. 3 (March 1974), pp. 13-15. Diplomatic and Li st, January 1974, pp. 85-87.


Tsb le ' :

Trade with


a Percentaae of Total Trade


19 71


Countrv Exp o rt s %

l110o rt s t

Eltpo r t s


Imports %

Indo ne sia





Malays ia









S ingapo re





Thail and





Philippine s

f1J V'l

------ ----------------------------------------------------------------------------' " '--rceb:

Trade ~ January -De cember 19 7l; "Focus on Indonesia," FEER. , FEEk Yearbooks (1969-1972); j in.gapc re rrade and Industry f April, 1969, February and Au ril 1972 ); As1an Oevel~pment Bank, So u~heast t, sia'e E~on o~~ in the 197Us (~ev York; Praeger. 1971); Suhadi Mangkusuwondo, " Sconomi c Independen ce: The Indonesian ViPw," .':t:".•: .- i rec:.-: in the ' "'ternat io"la l R€-lat i cms of Southeas~ As-::-.:: .:.· :(lr, :_r:: ::· .:1'~~..-.t~ons (Singapore: Si n g apo re University Press , 1973) .

TMF, DirP.ct i ur. :,_f

~ov ember, 19 72~

- £:6 -

Table 5 :

United ~ations General Assembly Resolutions on East-West Issues: Singapore ' s Per centage Index of Agreement







ASEAN Indonesia Malaysia Philippines Thailand

58 45 48 48

63 66

86 75 69 75

83 78 80 75

82 82 83 82

75 70

Great Powers Ja-pan USA USSR

25 25 75

63 58

65 65 40

69 63 50

75 67 38

59 56 55

Old Commonwealth Australia Canada New Zealand United Kingdom

44 31 40 31

67 67 63 67


75 80

70 66

63 75 69 75


63 65 63 64

Asian Commom..realth Ceylon India Pakistan

75 8i 94

75 79 63

75 65 75

79 88 81



71 71

77 77

Other Southeast Asian Countrie s Burma Cambodia Laos

75 75 42

90 75 72

80 67 63

81 63 75

88 68 86

83 70 68

EEC France Italy Belgium Nethe rlands Luxembourg

75 25 38 38 25

75 58 63 67 63

75 70 70 75 55

75 75 75 75 67

79 75 79 75 75

76 61 66 66 57

Miscel laneous Countries Albania Austria Egyp t Israel Yugoslavia Zambia

67 50 94 28 75 93


60 85 60 65 60 81

67 81 64 75 69 79

60 79 64 67 67 67

62 73 68 57 70 75






58 55 71 55





- 87-

Table 6:

United Nations General Assembly on North- South Issues : Singapore ' s Percentage Index of Agreement ;








83 90 83

83 90 83



83 100 75 92

75 83 75 83

100 100 100 100

85 93 83 92

Great Powers Japan USA USSR

25 33 50

50 50 75

70 33 25

42 42 42

70 58 50

51 45 48

Old Commonwealth Australia Canada New Zealand United Kingdom

33 33 33 25

58 42 50 50

58 50 58 33

42 42 42 42

67 70 70 58

52 49 51 42

Asian Commonwealth Ceylon India Pakistan

92 83 92

70 75 75

100 92 92

100 83 83

100 100 100

92 87 88

Other Southeast Asian Countries Burma Cambodia Laos













50 42 42 50 42

33 66 42 58 42

50 60 50 60 50

30 58 33 50 38

66 63 67 60 60

46 58 47 56 46

42 100 67 83 100

67 75 92 75 75

68 67 70 92 90


68 100 100 100 100

57 83 82 87 93

ASEAN Indonesia Malaysia Philippines Thailand

EEC France Italy Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg Miscellaneous Countries Albania Austria Egypt Israel Yugoslavia Zambia

.. 75

83 83 100

..., 88 .-

Table 7:

United Nations General Assembly Resolutions on Colonial Issues: Singapore's Percentage Index of Agreement







ASEAN Indonesia Malaysia Philippines Thailand

100 95 100 93

93 86 89 93

93 97 90 89

93 93 97 89

100 98 100 98

96 94 95 92

Great Powers Japan USA USSR

88 48 98

79 46 89

78 48 93

83 50 97

77 30 98

81 44 95

Old Commonwealth Australia Canada New Zealand United Kingdom

50 60 53 40

43 50 46 43

53 65 55 53

50 70 60 54

41 55 50 25

47 60 53 43

Asian Commonwealth Ceylon India Pakistan

100 98 100

91 90 93

93 95

100 90



100 98 100

97 94 96

Other Southeast Asian Countries Burma Cambodia Laos

98 100 86

90 89 100

98 89 90

93 95 92

98 93 100

95 93 94

55 63 53 63 62

62 54 58 50 58

55 58 55 55 50

60 67 63 63 65

40 61 57 55 50

54 61 57 57 57

EEC France Italy Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg


- 89 -

Table 7 (continued)





196 7




Miscellaneous Countries Albania Austria Egypt Israel Yugoslavia Zambia

100 60 100 88 100 100

100 57 89 82 93 89

60 93 93 93 91

70 97 90 97 96

100 64 100 91 100 100


62 96 89 97 95

[Note: The percentage of agreement were calculated using the formula suggested by Arend Lijphart in his "The Analysis of Bloc Voting in the General Assembly: A Critique and a Proposal ," American Political Science Review , Vol. 57, No. 4 (December 1963), pp. 902 - 917. According to this formula , the Percentage Index of Agreement: IA = f + ~g x 100% t

where f = number of votes of which two countries are in full agreement , g = number of votes on which they partially agree, and t = total number of votes under consideration, i . e . total number of votes in which both participated . Also following Lijphart ' s suggestion , the problem of sampling was solved by tallying only those roll-call votes reported in the various i ssues of the Yearbook of the United Nations which only records what the U. N. Secretariat judges to be "important" votes. The data sources of the roll-call votes under consideration are therefore from the Yearbook of the United Nations , Vols. 20- 24 , 1966 - 70 . East-West (i.e. Cold ~~ar) and Colonial issues were separated as far as possible by setting aside the latter before sorting for the former. This was necessary since the USSR tends to vote consistently on the side of the former colonies , while the u.s. is often found on the side of the former c olonial powers .]

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Taking trade as an index of cohesiveness or orientation , it is clear that the extra-regional trade links of ASEAN countries are much stronger than ~ntra - regional ones. Intra- ASEAN trade increased from 1966 to 1970 at 5.2% per year , whereas total ASEAN trade grew by 9.1% per year over the same period. Trade within ASEAN as a percentage of total ASEAN trade shrunk from 18.3% in 1966 to 15 . 7% in 197o.25 What is interesting in these trade figures is the fact that at the beginning of the 1970s , only Singapor e among the ASEAN countries has consistently more than 25% of its total imports and exports with its ASEAN partners. See Table 4. A comparative study of Singapore's voting p attern in the United Nations General Assembly, from 1965 to 1970 , showed that her votes were more i n line with ASEAN countries than with any other group of The degree of similarity of her voting countries. position was measured against her ASEAN partners , Commonwealth nations, Western European countries , and the major powers , for three sets of issues - East : West , North : South, and Colonial.26 See Tables 5, 6 , and 7. Bilateral Relations with ASEAN Partners Malaysia Despite the almost ten years of separate existence and the exchange of visits by the two Prime Ministers , relations between Malaysia and Singapore are only slowly he a ding towards the "bri sk and businesslike" nature both governments desire . There is still a fair amount of contention between the two countries over a series of issues symptomatic of the separation trauma . The


See figures given in The Mirror~ April 24. 1972, pp . 1, 5, and in Augustine H. H. Tan , "A Maveri ck Approach to Southeas t Asian Regionalism," p . 18.


If the ·three other Coinmonwealt:h cot.nL.:u~s are taken as a separate group, Singapore's voting posit ion is slightly closer to them than to ASEAN for the three sets of issues.


91 -

friction stems from the fact t hat in order for the two countries to reach an acceptable modus vivendi, separation has to be total. Thus, each country finds itself having to assert its own identity and sovereignty over matters in which , prior to separation , both had had a say. Malaysia, furthermore, seems committed to a policy of reducing those hitherto close economic links with Singapore which are viewed as a sign of Malaysian dependency on Singapore and inhibiting Malaysian economic growth. In 1973, for example, differences and bad feelings occurred over such matters as: the Malaysian termination of the currency interchangeability pact; the separation of the joint stock exchange and rubber market; the Singapore decision to float her currency; the Malaysian restrictions on log exports to Singapore; the extension of port regulations to hitherto exempted Singapore vessels; and Singapore's imposition of new restrictions on Malaysian cars entering the republic and the subsequent Malaysian retaliatory requirements for visiting Singapore cars.30 There are also differences over the structure and future of the Five Power Defence Arrangements. A lack of cooperation in defence matters is clearly shm•.rn by Malaysia's steady refusal to allow Singapore access to her jungle warfare training facilities in nearby Johore, and the use of uninhabited islet suitable for bombing practice.31

36 Azhari Zahri "Malaysia-Singapore Currency Split and Its Consequences," ARB, Vol. 3, No. 1 (June 1973), pp . 1819-1822; "Termination of Currency Interchangeability between Malaysia and Singapore, Severance of Cownon Stock Exchange and New Malaysian Foreign Exchange Regulations," ARB, Vol. 3, No . l (June 1973) , pp. 1828-1830; "Singapore's Dollar Float," ARB, Vol. 3, No. 2 (July 1973), pp. 1904-1905; "Malaysia-Joint Rubber Market with Singapore Ends," ARB , Vol. 3, No. 4 (September 1973), pp . 2062-2063; Straits Times~December 8, 1973, p. 13, December 21, 1973, p . 12, October 12 , 1973, p . 6, and October 14, 1973, p. 9. 31

M.G.G. Pillai, "Singapore-Malaysia: Emotion Clouds the Issues,'' in "Focus on Singapore," FEER~ August 13, 1973, p. 9; M.G . G. Pillai, "Singapore-Malaysia: Mistrust Remains, but o • • , " in "Focus on Singapore," FEER , August 9, 1974 , pp. 40-43.

- 92 -

In spite of these problems , there is still a great deal of empathy between the two countries based on their long historical association , and the family and business ties that remain between the peoples north and south of the causeway . Malaysia- Singapore trade totalled S$3,653 million in 1973 and Ma l aysia remains Sin gapore ' s leading trade partner (with 17% of the latter ' s total trade) while Singapore is the largest investor in Malaysia ' s " pioneer industries."32 Indonesia Relations between Indonesia and Singapore have clearly improved over the past two years , especially after Prime Minister Lee ' s visit to J a karta in May 19 7 3 . 33 The "psychological barriers 11 a r e said t o be coming down and the image eac h co~nt.ry h as of the other is steadily being improved through an increase in the number of official and unofficial e xchanges ranging from trade missions , parliamentarians , and defence staffs, to youth delegations , student groups , goodwill and study tours , and other forms of " people - to-people" p r o g rammes . 34 Relations between the two countries are , however , f a r from perfect; mutual suspicions and questioning of intentions still exist. One source of contention is Singapore ' s re fus al to release statistics on her trade with Indonesia.35 This is due (thougn denied by · · Singapore) to the discrepancy that will appear because 32

Singapore Trade and Industry (May 1974) , p. 69 ; New Nation, June 12 , 1974 , p. 2. Singapore ' s investment in Malaysia's pioneer industries in 1973 was S$140 million, American investment ~.ras next with S$92 million , and in third place was British investment with S$91 mil l ion ,



"Mr. Lee Kuan's Visit to Indones ias" ARB, Vol. 3, No . 1 (June 1973), pp . 1830-1831 . See also coverage by the Straits Times ~ Hay 25-29, 1973. " Interview with Lee Khoon Choy , Singapore's Man in Jakarta,"

New Directions , Vol . 1, No. 1 (October 1973), pp . 28-29; Straits Times, Decembe r 10 , 1973 , p. 11 , December 8, 1973, p. 18, December 2, 1973, p. 6, November 24, 1973 , p . 25 , November 22 , 1973 , p . 9, November 14, 1973 , p. 17 , November 12, 1973, p. 15. 35

Arun Senkuttuvan, "A Need for FrankneE"s , " a nd O.G. Roeder , "Singapore-Indonesia : The I ce. Melts," i r: •· ?c~us on Singapore , " PEER, August 13, 1973, pp . 13- 20 : 35- 36 .

- 93 -

of the substantial smuggling or 11 unregistered trade 11 that takes place from Indonesia to Singapore . Indonesians are also resentful of the spillover to Singapore of profitable economic actLvities (servicing and refining) accompanying the o i l exploration boom , and feel that such activities should remain in Indonesia. Regulations have been passed to ensure this but so far have not been very successful.36 Singapore, on the other hand, is quite wary of Indonesia ' s aspirations for leadersh ip in the region and of her moves to divert shipping and entrepot activities from Singapore. Nevertheless, there is now a definite trend towards closer economic ceoper atien between the two countries. Indonesia with a total trade of over S$711 million with Singapore in 1973 is the latter ' s eighth largest trading partner, and Singapore now ranks as the fourth larges t investor in Indonesia . 37 There have recently been proposals for Singapore to partipipat e in the development. of Sumatra ' s Lake Toba as a major tourist resort and in the development of a major industrial complex on Batam Island twelve miles from Singapore ~ 38

Thailand and the


Singapore's relations with her other two ASEAN partners , Thailand and the Philippines, have net, for historical, political and economic reasons, been as important. In 1973 Singapore's trade with Thailand and the Philippines totalled S$513 million and S$114 million respectively.39 Of the two countries , Thailand is perhaps more important to Singapore in that she is her largest supplier of rice and is considered in Singapore strategic thinking the most crucial buffer state against the spread of Indochinese inspired


Straits Times , February 1, 1974 , p . 9 .


Estimated in t he Singapor€ International Chamber of Commerce Report, 1973 , p . 67 .


Roeder, " Singapore - Indonesia:


Singapore Tr-ade and Industry (May 1974), p . 121 .

See also Kevin Rafferty, "Extensive Oil O_perations , " in "Singapore Survey," Financial Times , Sept.ember 30, 1974, p . 18 .

The Ice Melts," pp. 35- 36.

- 94 -

insurgency.40 After Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's visit to Thailand in January 1973, two agreements were reached whereby a detachment of Singapore commandos will be trained annually in Thailand, and Singapore will build patrol crafts and carry out maintenance and repairs for the Thai Navy.41 Consultations and visits between defence officials of the two countries are becoming more frequent. Two developments might possibly effect future relations between Singapore and these two countries. First, with Thailand there is the possibility - slight though it may be at this stage - that the Kra CanalPipeline Scheme will be carried out with some tmpact on Singapore's economy.42 Second, are the Philippine plans to compete with and, with their lower rents and salaries, undercut Singapore as a business and financial centre and particularly ai a regi onal


Margaret Woo, A Brief Country Study of ThaiZand and Its Economic Relations With Singapore (Singapore: Economic Development Division, Ministry of Finance, 1968); Lee Sheng Yi, "Trading, Banking and Financial Relationships between Singapore and Thailand," in Wong Kum Poh and Maureen Tan (eds.), Singapore in the International Economy ~ pp. 21-32. See Lee Kuan Yew's April 1973 lectures on "The Southeast Asian View of the New World Power Balance," at Lehigh University, in ARB~ Vol. 2, No. 12 (May 1973), pp . 1809-1811, Vol. 3, No. 1 (June 1973), pp. 1880-1881, Vol. 3, No. 2 (July 1973), pp. 1956-1957; and his statements and speeches given during his visit to Thailand in January 1973, reported in the Straits Times~ J.anuary 10-19,1973.


ARB, Vol . 3, No. 4 (September 1973), p . 2073; Straits Times, August 30, 1973, p. 13, August 21, 1973, p. 1, June 28, 1973, · p. 1, May 15, 1973, p. 3, May 11, 1973, p. 6, January 19, 1973, p. 32.


The Singapore Government has made no official comment on this subject, but does not seem too concerned since available studies show that by the time such a project could be completed, traffic through the Malacca Straits would be so congested that an alternative route would be welcomed. See New Nation , October 6, 1973, p. 2, Straits Times~ October 26, 1973, p. 11; and Patrick Low and Yeung Yue-Man The Proposed

Kra Canal,: A Critical Evaluation and Its Impact on Singapore (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1973).

- 95 -

43 At the headqua rters for multina tional corpora tions. present , however , Singapo re- Philipp ines ties seem to be at their highest point ever , as evidenc ed by the tumulto us welcome and praises given by the Marcos Governm ent to Lee Kuan Yew during his state visit to the Philippi~es in January 1974.44 Major Regiona l I ssues Despite her real contrib utions to regiona l coope rati o n and her recently more active regiona l policy, Singapo re ~·Ji 11 have to live with the fact that for the time being she will be regarded somewha t 'flith a mixture of suspicio n and envy by her neighbo urs. The roles of regiona l centre and global city have emerged and merged and become for Singapo re at one and the same t1me complem entary and incompa tible. The more Singapo re is to succeed in attracti ng investment and trade, the more she has to portray her "local persona lity" and project her uniquen ess in relation to her neighbo urs , and as an observe r has stated ,"nobody likes anyone who makes a profess ion of being differe nt from them."45 Three regiona l 1ssues in particu lar face Singapo re i n which the diverge nt pulls of her interna tional and regi o nal interes ts wi ll have to be careful ly balance d: the neutral ization of Southea st Asia, the "nation alization" of the Malacca Straits , and the recogni tion of China. Neutral izat 1on of Southea st Asia Though theMala ysian proposa l for a neutrali zed Southea st As1a is now conside red a main feature of diploma cy and interna tional politics 1n Southea st Asia,


Insight (August 1973) , pp. 4-5; New Nation, October 23, 19 73 , p . 8.


See the cove rage by the Straits Times , January 16-18, 19 73; FEER, January 28, 1974, p. 11; and ARB , Vol. 3, No. 9 (February 1974) , p. 25 15 .


James Morgan in "Focus on Singapor e," FEER, August 5 , 1972, p. 9.

- 9q -

it is still at the "drawing board" stage and is seen, at least in Singapore, as only a framework for discussion.46 Singapore, in fact, is far from ' enthusiastic about the proposal, the success of which would achieve a Southeast Asian region free from external interference. She has pointed outthat, so far, none of the great powers upon whose cooperation the success of neutralization depends, has even expressed an interest in it let alone endorsed it.47 As Lee Kuan Yew has stated: The ASEAN countries have asked: "Please, can we have neutralization? Can we have a zone of neutrality, guaranteed by the big powers?" The only power that has responded is China, but it is not yet in a position to guarantee it. The other two which could guarantee it - the Soviet Union and America have not responded . So we are whistling in the dark through the cemetery of Indochina. We have to guess what China's willingness to guarantee neutrality will be when it has a blue water fleet that can police the straits of Southeast Asia, the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.48 Singapore sees the move to make Southeast Asia a zone of peace and neutrality as desirable but urges



The "Kuala Lumpur Declaration" issued at the November 1971 meeting of ASEAN leaders in Kuala Lumpur recorded the de t ermination of Indonesia, Malaysi a, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand to "secure the recognition of, and respect f or, Southeast Asia as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality, free from any form or manner of interference by outside powers . " ARB, Vol. No. 7 (December 1971), pp. 490-491. See also "The Neutralization of Southeast Asia: Paper presented by the Singapore Delegation at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, November 25-27, 1971 . " Goh Kian Chee, "Regional Perspectives for Singapore," in National Trades Union Congress, 1973) ,, p. 130; Lau Teik Soon, "Will the Neutrals Please Stand Up?" I nsi ght (July 1973), pp. 53-54; Seah Chee Meow, "Neutralization - Pipedream?" New Di rections, Vol. 1, No . 1 (October 1973), pp . 31-33 .

TowardS Tomorrow (Singapore:


St rai t s Time s, August 6, 1973, p . 26 .

- 97 -

her ASEAN partners not to bank on idealized statements and unilateral declarations . The countries of the region have to accept the fact that the great powers will content for their interests in the region because of its strategic locat1on and resources, and trying to exclude one or all is unrealistic. The best course is for Southeast Asian countries to show the great powers that it is in their best interests to promote peace and stability in the region, and to withstand externally instigated turmoil by putting their houses in order and maintaining domestic stability . As put by a Singapore foreign policy spokesman : The immediate reality is that of external involvement and the impotence of the region to stop larger and more powerful states which , in pursuit of their policies , may do something we do not like or is contrary Rather than keeping out to our well being . all outsiders , therefore , it would be better for as many interested powers as possible to come in and develop a stake in the region, thereby ensuring that no single great power g ets into a dominant position.49 Fur thermore, follm'ling her concep t of "multilateral underpinni ng" for her security , Singapore ' s interpretation of whatneutralization should entail and how it should be achieved is somewhat different from that of her neighbours - especially t-ialaysia and Indonesia. The thinking in Singapore is that a balance , not only of power but of interests, must exist among the great powers in the region . t-Ji thout this balance , the vacuum created would make for i nstability and encourage nations in the area to fend for themselves leading to tension and dis outes and great pm.


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Ng Shui Meng, The Population of Indochina: 1974 . l26pp. Preliminary Observations ,

Some S$7 . 00


Ng Shui Meng, The Oil System in Southeast Asia: A Preliminary Survey, 1974. 93pp. S$10.00


Wong Saik Chin, Public Reaction to the Oil Crisis: The Singapore Case , 1975. 87pp. S$6.00


Foreign Policy: Kawin Wi1airat, Singapore S$10.00 106pp. First Decade, 1975.


Current Issues Seminar Series 1

Mul tin at ional Corporations and their Implications for Southeast Asia. Edited by Eileen Lim Poh Tin, 1973. 140pp. S$12.00


Economic and Political Trends in Southeast Asia , 1973. 66pp. S$6.00


Southeast Asia Today: Problems and Prospects, 1973. 110pp. S$LO.OO


Japan as an Economic Power and Its Implications for Southeast Asia. Edited by Kernial S. Sandhu and (Singapore University Press), Eileen P.T. Tang. 1974 . 147pp. S$20.00

Oral History Programme Series 1

Philip Hoalim, Senior, The Malayan Democratic Union: Singapore's First Democratic Political Party, 1973. 26pp. S$3.00


Andrew Gilmour, My Role in the Rehabilitation of Sin gap ore : 1946 - 1953, 1973. lOOpp. S$6.00


Mamoru Shinozaki, My Wartime Experiences in Singapore, 1973. 124pp. S$6.00 (Out-of-print)

Monographs 1

Sartono Kartodirdjo, Protest Movements in Rural Javu, (Oxford University Press), 1973. 229pp. S$ 18. 00


Edited by HansMode r ni za tion in Southeast Asia. Dieter Evers (Oxford University Press), 1973. 249pp. S$18. 00

Annual Reviews 1

Southeast Asian Affairs 1974 (Out- of- print),

197 4. 2

350pp .

S$15 . 00

Southeast Asian Affairs 1975 (McGraw- Hi l l F . E .

Publishers), 1975.

256pp .

S$30 . 00

The above publication s are avai lable for sale at the Institute of Southeast As i an Studies , Cluny Road , Singapore 10.



THE AUTHOR Mr. Kawin Wilairat is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Government, Georgetown University, U.S.A., and until recently was a Research Fellow at the [nstitute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.