01 September 2007

Why would anyone rescue Singapore?

Lee Kuan Yew said our armed forces can withstand an attack for 2 - 3 weeks, but not a siege. Our survival depends on "an international environment which says that borders are sacrosanct and there is the rule of law." Meaning: we hope a powerful country would rescue us. Full essay.


Anonymous said...

there are many ways to "open up"; the gays thought things were "opening up" for them when GCT said homosexuality does not prevent a person from being appointed to a "sensitive post"; they have since found the government meant what was said, but no more

about the war scenario: I think the more meaningful question is "why would anyone want to conquer Singapore"? without answering this question first, the question you ask has no meaning because the circumstance is unclear; whether it is in someone's interest to rescue depends on the circumstance


Philip said...

Its another reason why the SG govt invites more foreigners and their companies to invest in SG. By investing and buying property here, they have a stake in the security and stability of the country.

People on the ground don't understand political and strategic initiatives that a govt takes. Hence we see the usual cribbing about foreigners taking away jobs and all.

LKY has clearly mentioned...

"We are part of a world which is globalized, cheek by jowl with teeming millions in the region, populating at fast speed (laughs), right?"

All it would take is for a moron to get elected in one of the neighboring country and he/she deciding that they want to make the life hell for SG. Hence the reliance on foreign powers in SG. So that what hurts SG will hurt the western powers too. So, they will come to the aid. That is another reason why SG is so pally with USA and why US warships regularly visit SG.

These are all long term strategies of the govt to establish a form of security for the country.

Anonymous said...

what philip said has validity, but it cuts both ways; the presence of the foreigners and foreign ideas can also be seen as a threat to some regional interests, in particular the extremists, and make Singapore a target

this is why if there is a war, the circumstance leading to it is important in persuading the big powers that the attacker must be thwarted


Anonymous said...


The interview is reported today in the NYT. The despot, as always, claimed undeserved credit for the existence of Singapore.

Again the same lies about Singapore not having any natural resources and therefore any success is due entirely to him and his family and cronies. The drive and hard work of early migrants, the natural deepwater harbor, the prime location at the nexus of trade routes, the infrastructure and civil service left behind by the British, all count for absolutely nothing.

Sickening shit.

Teck Soon said...

I agree with your comments about the appeal of Taiwan to Americans because it is a democracy being threatened by a totalitarian government. Average Americans know this.

Average Americans associate Singapore with

(i) chewing gum ban
(ii) caning of Michael Faye

Educated Americans associate Singapore with the lack of basic freedoms and the undemocratic form of government at hand.

So I doubt Americans would have any moral qualms about seeing us invaded.

Anonymous said...

is america so idealistic? did america liberate kuwait because it was democratic, not because of its oil supply?

I say again it depends on the circumstance; in fact, america is more likely to rescue singapore from a neighbour, than to rescue taiwan by going to war with china


Anonymous said...

In the 60s-70s, the spore govt used the spectre of communism to get the Yanks interested in Southeeast Asia and Singapore in particular. As a result, they lost 60,000 soldiers (the Vietnamese suffered more but are less vocal about it) and after 30 years, Vietnam and American are friends again! Today, the exaggerated threat (i would not use the word bogey) is radical Islam.

We are actually pretty good in portraying ourselves as a bastion of civilisation and modernity in a sea of barbarity as well a system of what many westerners sicken with crime do admire.

I met an Australian many years back in Sydney. Although he was young and unemployed (our typcast of the lazy ang moh on the dole), he admired Singapore as Australia's only friend in the islamic neighbourhood and said that Canberra should shoot drug traffickers like Singapore

Anonymous said...

Singapore can be the 51st state of America? or LHLoong can work out a deal with Malaysia, for the return of Singapore to Malaysia, with Loong as the new Governor?
All speculation, since the Lees control Singapore, they will decide it's fate.

Teck Soon said...

I agree with sgsociety that America is not so idealistic and that they liberated Kuwait mostly for self-interests. But idealism does help somewhat, and the Kuwaiti Embassy in the US played into that: A series of news stories on the behaviour of Iraqis in Kuwait (for example, the Kuwaitis said the Iraqis were disconnecting premature babies from incubators, later found to be untrue) cast the original Kuwait as a modern technological country--like America--and the Iraqis as baby killers. This helped in US public support for intervening at the time.

I'm just trying to think of anything Americans might like about Singapore on a moral level, in the situation where they would not protect us out of pure self-interest.

Anonymous said...

maybe a strong self interest (not just US, but EU, China, Japan etc.) is to keep the shipping route open, since an invader nation would be a constant threat to this important shipping route.

Also, we may want to note that LKY is targeting foreign media in this interview. He may have his motives to say certain things.

Anonymous said...

>in the 60s-70s, the spore govt used the spectre of communism to get the Yanks interested in Southeeast Asia and Singapore in particular. As a result, they lost 60,000 soldiers

I doubt SG had that kind of influence on John Kennedy and Lindon Johnson; it was much later, when the war was producing economic benefits for SEAsia that LKY said US presence was good for the region economically and politically; LHL said more or less the same thing recently


Anonymous said...

sgsociety's questions should be, "who would want to take Singapore?" Malaysia kicked Singapore out, but only to teach Singapore a lesson. The plan was for Singapore to go crawling back to Malaysia after a few years, broke and unable to survive, to be re-admitted to the federation on Malaysia's terms.

Indonesia might want to take this little red dot. After all, it had it's reasons for Konfrontasi, so it assumes some historical interests in this little island (including giving us our modern name).

The world is different from colonial times when empires set up colonies and outposts. Our nearest neighbours are the ones most likely to want to take us.

Without natural resources, Singapore offers only it's accumulated reserves and infrastructure. The first cannot be seized simply with an invasion and occupation, while the second is just hardware which cannot be utilised without software. An invaded Singapore will lose a lot of its trading and hub status, so it makes no sense to invade for the sake of seizing infrastructure.

M'sia may want to do so anyway, if for no other reason then to destroy a competitor and to offer their ports and services as alternatives.

However, this could backfire on them. Indonesia could try to acquire our infrastructure but the act of invasion would probably benefit M'sia more than Indonesia.

This means that strategically, an invasion should be responded with attacks on the enemy's infrastructure (airports, ports, etc) as well as military targets.

The overall strategy is to make Singapore a "poison pill" for any country to attempt to conquer.

But these are just wargame scenarios. The reality is that even Indonesia with a large military would not be able to prosecute a war anywhere because of logistics, and stability issues.

Malaysia is also doing well economically and has more to gain through peace than through war.

While Singapore may have strong ties with the US, the question is what benefits the US sees in these ties and whether these ties are worth protecting with US blood. At this stage in history, the US is probably too battle fatigued to fight another war.

Of course, if Singapore were attacked, we would call on the US to help defend us, and the US would be hard-pressed to say no. The 7th fleet could sail in, wave their flags and fly a few sorties to sort things out. But if things got too down and dirty and personal (i.e. US soldiers' lives are on the line) probably wouldn't get too involved. Which is why a standing Singaporean army to get personal with the enemy is necessary.

If we make the US involvement easy and low risk (just pound the enemy with their technology), we could count on some help.


Militant Mike

Anonymous said...

During World War 2, Singapore fell quickly to the Japanese despite the protection of the British which stationed some forces locally. It is risky to think that Singapore can solely depend on foreign powers to rescue us. This strategy might work if Singapore's allies are not engage in any major war. However if there is a world war, superpowers will probably be busy handling their own affairs. Singapore is like a juicy fruit in such occasion for her neighbours to conquer and seemingly profitable to do so while too far away for western powers or even China to come to her aid. Even if Singapore tries to make use of the ambitions of other nations to protect their interest in Singapore against her invaders, she will not last long.
Imagine Indonesia invades Singapore in a world war 3 scenario. There is a war involving US, Russia, or China or a powerful Middle East coalition or even an united European Union which seeks to dominate the world which some people say is the revival of the Roman Empire. Russia ambitions have always been in Europe, while China will prefer conquering towards the West instead of South. US, with many rivals with probably suffer heavy casualties. It is up to ASEAN to settle their own regional chaos. Will Malaysia, which has Islam as her official religion side with Singapore, help Indonesia which is the most populous Muslim majority nation in the world or to wait for their chance to conquer Singapore for herself? Personally, the 2nd and 3rd scenario sounds more likely. So Singapore must defend herself, but how? Use the element of surprise, invades the invader before they act. Surely Singapore’s navy is better than that of Indonesia and it will not need to carry as much people and supplies. Crossing over to Malaysia should not be a problem as long as it is a surprise. Gain the advantage in momentum, morale, position and surprise in such a move. Place the troops in a ‘desperate ground’ will cause them to fight with utmost ferocity according to Sun Zi. Portrays the invaders as bloody and merciless invaders who tortures those who surrender. With all these advantages, along with the fact that Singapore army boast of the best intelligence as well as technology in the region, her small army can emerge victorious. Of course, prevention is better that cure.