SINGAPORE ON THE EVE OF LEE KUAN YEW'S VISIT TO THE US

Created: 10/6/1967

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

I.BJ LIBRARY Mandatory Review

OF INTELLIGENCE

Singapore on the Eve of Lee Kuan Yen's Visit to

Special Report

WEEKLY REVIEW

67 SC

9

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Special Reports arc supplements to thc Current Intelligence Weeklies issued by the Office of Current Intelligence. The Special Reports arc published Separately io permit more comprehensive treatmentubject. They arc prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence, the Office of Research and Reports, or thc Dirccturaic of Science and Technology. Special Reports are coordinated ai appropriate among the Directorates of CIA but. except for thc normal substantive exchange with other agencies af the working loci have not been coordinated outside CIA miles* specifically indicated.

4*

SINGAPORE ON THE EVE OF LEE KUAN YEW'S VISIT TO THE US

Singapore has come through the first two years of independence following its explusion from Malaysia in much better shape than even its own leaders had expected. Lee Kuanthe able prime minister of the small island republic, nevertheless foreseesserious economic and political problems on the horizon and is preparing himself accordingly.

Basic to Lee's plans is development of what hetightly knit society." This he believes will better enable Singapore to cope with theeconomic conditions and attendant politicalexpected to resultabor market expanding faster than industrial growth and the projectedof the British military presence which hasubstantial part in Singapore's economy. The government's controls necessary to impose greateron the people and to assimilate the disparate elements of the population are leading inexorablyore authoritarian one-party, one-leader state.

In the realm of foreign policy, Lee is groping for new ways to assure the security of his small state,by Malaysatural target for Peking'sefforts among Singapore's largely Chinese On his visit to the US this month, Lee intends to assess American intentions totabilizing presence in Southeast Asia and also to promoteeconomic interests.

Singapore's leaders reacted with shock and dismay to theexpulsion of Singapore from the federation of Malaysia in Lee Kuan yew had been an ardent proponent of the concept of Malaysia, seeing ineans for Singapore, with its large Chinese population, to avoid isolation. He was also attracted by tha opportunitiesarger political arena

would provide for hia owntalents and ambitions. himself eventually playingpolitical role andAction Party (PAP) and championing thethroughout the

however, moved too Cast. He $m( fielded PAP candidates in theelections4 and then attempted to organize CheSolidarity Convention in May of the following year as an

Sa^HT

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coaiision to ihe Sua)

Aireacyyocaj Chiceaa cosiBuaitycoRomic iii* o; th* federation

C*rj fearsd jr. ?A? challenge tooliticalcy of the rulingcoalition. The orobiin uijompoundedtoiancetd conflictucJcuprime minister, aeturni.tc;rtp abroai, Sa.inan pra-ser.tad Lee with an uisiaaruoi:apora woulditr.drav voluntarily* federation or factalocdhasii.

esult was sacra

oact and thaof

independencet

A; bill ti.na of separaticr. thereoua tfoubej aaonc Singapore'* laadari regarding tha capacity of th* amaLi island republic iurviv* indapersdar.oly Heavily dependant or. .Malaysiac raw aateriiis andand having ready lostlucrative trad* se-oause of Sukarno's con ironpolicy, Singapore't economic viabilityicusly Frictions betweenore's Chinas* and Malayiss zid erupted in ccssscr.al nets inand th* potential for further outbreaks persisted. Lee waa also disturbed oy tha

tendency oi Many Malay andrisidants of Singapore to lock respectively z: Kuala iuopur ar.dfor political and cultural guidance.

Pace

No

of Che earlyover Singapore's future has now dissipated, and has been replacedrowing confi-

dence. Singapore's leaderspreoccupied with plans ew set of problems ,they see emerging in the)

Lee and the ruling PAPree hand in carrying out their programs. The pro-Communist Bari-san Sasialis Party ow rent by tactical and ideologicaland largely impotent, is the only opposition. Assailing"phony democracy" and one-party rule, the fiveegislators resigned their seats in the national parliamentear ago and the partyto participate in theby-elections to fill the vacancies. The BSP has been further weakened and fragmented by the growing independence of leftist Chinese students, who often ignore BSP directives. the fact that it wasbyoercent of the electorate the BSP's present political impotency is likely to persist over thefuture,evere economic slump.

Over the long run and in the continuing absence of meaningful political opposition, the main threat to the PAP would appear to be the development of tensions and frictions within its own ranks. Although no significant political fissures are now evident, within the PAP they might develop over how far the government should go in imposing authoritarianon Singapore'slife.

SPECIAL REPORT

Governmental Controls

In support of Lee's "tightly knit society" concept,eries of laws and executive decisions has been put into effect over the past year, greatlythe government's control over the political life of the-

A Societies Ordinance, passed last December, gives the government almost unlimited power to control, approve, or outlaw any organization of ten or more persons. The registrar of societies has been authorized to ban any group that is "likely to be used for purposesto public peace, welfare, or good order." In mid-March, parliament passed an Undesirable Publications Bill which makes it an offense for any person topublish, or distribute publications prohibited by the government. Onune,were given legalto refuse bail in rioting offenses.

Parliament also amended the Criminal Law Ordinance to ban public utility strikes andrade union amendment that outlaws political and sympathy strikes and requires labor union officeholders to be citizens of Singapore. These last two measures merelythe government'sof the labor unionas it already dominated the Singapore Trade Union the nation's largest labor federation.

Although some of these new powers have thus far only been used in selected cases, they are probably intended forat some future date when mounting unemployment might lead to serious political unrest. It is this future danger, rather than any existing challenge to PAP political control, that has convinced Lee the government must arm itselfational crisis actually materializes.

Loyalty to the State

Lee's efforts to refocus divided loyalties and toational identity have taken several forms. news media have been utilized fully, and the nation's educational system has beento some extent toandational consciousness.

The government's evolving defense policies are intended not only to make Singapore the "Israel of Southeastut to produce loyal Singaporeans. Compulsory military service for all persons, male and female, above the age of IB is required under an amendment passed last March to the National Service Act. Only an "elite" tenof those conscripted,will serve for two years in the regular armed forces. The remainder will perform part-time service in one of threereserve units; the People's Defense Force, the Vigilante Corps, or the Special Constabulary, an auxiliary police organization.

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Goh Keng Swae, theminister of interior andhas stated that thetraining program is more sociological than military, and is intended icainly toclosely knit community." Since the assimilative processong and tedious one, however, the government's success will be largely contingentelatively stableu* ation and freedom fron serious external threats.

The Economy

The PAP economic record to date has been one of impressive achievement. Singapore's gross national product has increased by aboutercent9 and the per capita gross income of0 is second in Southeast Asia only to that of the oil-rich British protectorate of Brunei. Singapore's prosperity haschiefly from entrepot trade and light industry, but theof the British military bases represents an even larger share of the GNP.

Government leaders are at-

by con-

tempting to promote trade eluding tradewith Communist countries and seeking tariff concessions from other trading Over the pastonths, tradehave beenwith the Soviet Union, most of the Eastern Europeanand North Korea.

Ci

Industrial growth is being carefully planned and nurtured, one result of which has been the imaginative

Jurong industrial complex. almost wholly of mangrove swamps and wilderness until the Le government began to develop it ln the, Jurong nowumber of modern factories,ood harbor, and an excellent transport, tion system.

To pursue and enlarge itsafter the British mill* tary withdrawal, Singapore will need an influx of foreign private capital on an unprecedented scale. Some of this additional capital may corne in from Hong Kong as aof the uneasiness engendered by the Cultural Revolution. This capital flow, however, is likely to be small compared to the amount In addition to the policy of promoting industrial expansion, the government is providing low-cost bousing, medical assistance, improved education, and otherthrough one of the mostsocial welfare programs now in existence.

Despite the apparent strength and vigor of the economy,umber of uncertainties persist. Bopesosnon market with Kalaysia were largely crushed by the separation, and trade with

Page 6 SPECIALOct 6?

is nettoto oreconfrontationseveral years at -

ercent of tha labc r re cut

ast Asia z

-icnai mar! ooth for t; and forthe ia;

^ u

itary Torres inheCs will aggravate Singapore's labor Approximately0 Smgi-pcreans are employed ar thaair and naval bases, any iter* depend cn tha basesivelihood- The bases account for an estimatedercent of the national income, andrsign exchange cost to the British Government of the bases irt Singapore and Malays La is0 million, most of which accrues ro Singapore.

Foreign Policy

Paramount in Lee Kuan Yew's thinkingpolicy is

iwsreness cf Singapcre^noneiy positionhinese city-state situated between two ethnically andsimilar and potentially hostileand olitical realist, Lee undersrandsodus Vivendi with Malavsia is vit to Sinaao

Singapore does net hava diplomatic or consular relations with either Communist orChina, and is likely to proceed slowly andin developing relations with either. 3ecause of the country's predominantly Chinese population.rs the pressures that relations with Peking or Taipei would produce - Moreover, relations with either, would BULke cnore difficult Lee's to refocus the divided loyalties of the Singaporeans andational identity. Yet Singapore leaders are avare that they must live withChina and that eventually scene relationship must develop. Lee has permitted the continued operation of the local branch of the (COiTOunist) Bank of China, and supports the admission of mainland China to the United-

J.ee has anbivalentthe *JSoreattitude is evolving. tirte of Singapore'sfrom the federation,

MM

5 Oct 67

_ -

was uncertain of th*Viet nan- He

was also fearful that Washington uould sacrtficaace rt ts the largerore numerous Malay states- Horeover# he war. ted coeutralist fsrsign policy for 5ingapert whila winning sem-oership in tht Afro-Asian family of ait;trill< Tonally, lee's awn deep respect for Britain and its conduct in Southeast Asia made hla reluctant tc accept the Amen cansuccessor to thain that part of the world.

Lee's mora positive present attitude may be attributed to several factors. US policlu in Southeast Asiaignificant bearing on his own aspirations for Singapore particularly his need far time in which totable, conesive society. The US has greatly increased its in Vietnam sincehich leaves Lee much moreregardingon1 storotective presence in Southeast Asia.he has sometimes criticised US tactics, particularly the bombing of North Vietnam,ontinuing USin Southeast Asia isto regional security. The pragmatic prime minister is also aware thatIS percent cz Singapore's national incomefrom US procurements in Singapore for Vietnam.

moreover, will add to Singaoor lams unless the

Britain's military phase-out.

acuum andecurity prob-US remains"in the

After much hesitation, Lee has also become more amenable to the concept of regionalhaving earlier rejected it as being incompatible withneutralistounding member of tne Association of Southeast Asian Nations CAShich waslast August. leaders are convinced that AS SAX must focus initially on economic, rather than political and military, cooperation if it is to win general acceptance andseful purpose. It might, they thinkj come to serve apurpose but they are not sanguine of this prospect.

Lee's Visit to the US

Lee's principal purpose in visiting Washington this month will be toirst-handof long-term US in Southeast Asia. Ke also hopes toore fundamental personal knowledge of thisand its leadership, as well as toympatheticand appreciation of the problems confronting Singaporeiedgling nation.

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Po^Hfn nissem

probably intends tothe prospects of attractingioerican coooercial interest in Singapore's naval facilities and air bases after the British departure. He can be expected toid for expanded markets in the US while trying to lure American investment capital to Singapore, He probably also will wish to emphasize Singapore'srole in regional affairs, while at the sane tine seeking assurances that the US will not favor the Malay states over tiny

Singapore,

Outlook

erious economic crisis develops, it appears likely that the situation in Singapore will remain basically unchangedood many years. The trend toward authoritarianism willeven more pronounced as Singapore tightens its beltthe Lee regime in order to sustain itself in the uncertain years ahead* Opposition leftist elements at this time give no indication that they have either the capacity or inclination to close ranks and offer ansubstitute to the ruling PAP government*

The most serious problems confronting the Singaporefocus chiefly on Britain's planned military withdrawal and the eventual termination of US procurement for Vietnam, which together account forercent of Singapore's national oss of bothhort span of time wouldevereon the economic life of the country.

nee I

Britain plans to provide some economic assistance following with drawal, however, and it is assumed that the base facilities will be converted to eocenese. Singa pore's Leaders are also hopeful that industrial and commercial growth will provide jobs for the many workers who will be thrust upon the job market in the years ahead. Nonetheless, if thesituation were to reach critical proportions,pressures probably would be exerted toorecourse. In essence, Singa* pore's futureiableand economic entity is by no means assured, and will be deter* mined by forces and events largely beyonJ

P

Singapore's mf^ie NO ?|

IAL REPORT

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