Country Listing

Singapore Table of Contents


Strategic Perspective

From 1959 to 1989, Singapore developed a defensive security outlook that emphasized the maintenance of strong military and civil defense organizations, cooperative military relations with other members of the ASEAN, the Five-Powers Defence Agreement; and other noncommunist states. In 1989 less than 10 percent of Singapore's population was over the age of 50 and could recall the Japanese invasion and occupation. Although Singapore had not had to combat an insurgency or defend itself against a hostile neighbor since the Indonesian Confrontation ended in 1966, the government frequently addressed such issues as Vietnam's 1978 occupation of Cambodia in order to highlight the vulnerability of small countries. Public opinion polls taken in the 1980s indicated that, although most citizens supported having some form of national service, many questioned the need for their leaders' "siege mentality." By 1989 as Lee Kuan Yew prepared for what he hoped would be a smooth transfer of power to a younger generation, Singapore's strategic perspective appeared to place increasing emphasis on regional developments that augured well for improved regional security rather than on any threat to the country posed by communist expansion in Southeast Asia (see Foreign Policy , ch. 4).

Data as of December 1989