Why Singapore is Superior Despite So Many Faults

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Why Singapore is Superior Despite So Many Faults — from a military perspective:

The city of Singapore was founded by the British in 1819, on an island at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula. The British considered the local Malays rather too laid back, and brought in thousands of Chinese and Indians to work the booming port city. Within six years, the population exploded from a few hundred, to over 10,000. Two years later, Chinese became the most numerous ethnic group. They eventually came to dominate the rich port of Singapore, providing administrators, as well as traders and laborers. The British kept the key jobs, but otherwise ran a meritocracy. When Malaysia, which Singapore was a part of, became independent in 1963, many Chinese in Singapore protested being ruled by the Malay majority. The Malays also resented the more entrepreneurial and economically successful Chinese. Although most Singapore residents wanted to be part of Malaysia, it didn’t work out. In 1965, Malaysia basically expelled Singapore, which become a separate, mainly Chinese, country. Over the next three decades, the Singaporean economy grew an average of nine percent a year, and Singapore became the wealthiest, on a per-capita basis, nation in the region.

With so much to defend, the Singaporeans developed, early on, a strong military. This was prompted by Britain withdrawing its garrison in 1971 and, in effect, telling the Singaporeans they had to defend themselves. Singapore asked Israel to help it develop a force similar to the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). That is, a large reserve force, with a small active force to handle training and any immediate military needs. The two countries have been close allies ever since.

Thus Singapore has an active duty force of 60,000, most of them reservists undergoing training. There are only about 20,000 full time, professional troops. In wartime, there are 300,000 trained reserves who can be mobilized, plus nearly has many who have had military training, but are no longer in reserve units. Like Israel, Singapore can mobilize a force that can defeat any of its neighbors.

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