JC History Tuition Online - Why was Singapore separated from Malaysia - JC History Essay Notes

Why was Singapore separated from Malaysia?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Inter-state tensions and co-operation: Causes of inter-state tensions: racial and religious divisions, ideological differences

Learn more about historical developments that led to Singapore’s independence [Video by Singapore Bicentennial]

Historical Context: Merger with Malaya
On 16 September 1963, the Federation of Malaysia was established, comprising of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo. Before the Federation was formed, a White Paper was published in November 1961 to outline terms of Singapore’s entry into Malaysia, such as the revenue contribution to the federal government and the creation of a common market between Singapore and Malaysia. However, there were political differences between the two governments that had affected the sustainability of the merger.

The Federal General Election of 1964
Following the Tunku’s contestation in the 1963 Singapore General Election, the People’s Action Party (PAP) participated in the 1964 General Election in Malaysia. Although the PAP had only secured one seat, extremists from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) viewed their non-communal style of politics had threatened the party’s interests. A smear campaign to discredit the PAP begun, which later culminated in the communal riots in July and September 1964.

Following the 1963 Singaporean elections, relations between UMNO and the PAP, with their competing multiracial visions quickly soured…These tensions began to be reflected in strained Malay-Chinse relations in Singapore, which were exacerbated when the Singapore-based PAP won a seat in the suburbs of the federal capital, Kuala Lumpur, in the general election in peninsular Malaysia in April 1964 by campaigning on the slogan of a “Malaysian Malaysia.” In this toxic political climate, the usually peaceful Malay procession to celebrate the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday in Singapore quickly deteriorated in July 1963 into riots between Chinese secret society and Malay ultranationalist gangs.

An excerpt from “Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth: Comparative Perspectives on Theory and Practice” by Richard T. Ashcroft and Mark Bevir.

Money matters: Disputes over tax and revenue contributions
On 25 November 1964, the Malaysian Finance Minister Tan Siew Sin brought up the Malaysian budget during the federal parliament. The budget sought to raise M$147 million through a policy of taxation, in which Singapore was required to contribute 39.8%.

In response, the Singapore government rejected the proposal on the basis that the disproportionate amount would harm businesses and labour-intensive industries.

Then, the minister stated that Singapore had to increase its revenue contribution to the federal government from 40 to 60%. Again, the Finance Minister of Singapore, Dr Goh Keng Swee, responded by stating that the 60% was not ‘equitable’.

These arrangements did not work out even though the Malaysia Agreement was signed on 9 July 1963, which included the creation of a common market.

The Malaysian Solidarity Convention: Multiculturalism in Malaysia
On 9 May 1965, the Malaysian Solidarity Convention was formed with the aim of fighting the spread of communalism in the Malaysian Federation.

The convention involved six political parties, comprising of the following:

  • Singapore – People’s Action Party
  • Sarawak – Machinda Party and United People’s Party
  • Peninsula Malaysia – People’s Progressive Party and United Democratic Party

Yes, we have got differing points of views, different experiences, different parties. But I tell you two things brought us together; one, the fact that we are Malaysians and not communalists; second, the fact that is spite of all this truculence, we are still talking for Malaysians on behalf of a Malaysian Malaysia towards a Malaysian Malaysia, and we will continue to do so.

An excerpt from Prime Minister of Singapore Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s speech at the Malaysian Solidarity Convention at the National Theatre, 6 June 1965.

The convention sought to advocate the concept of a ‘Malaysian Malaysia’, so as to preserve the unity and stability of the Federation. As a result, the federal government objected to the convention, particularly during the parliament meeting on 25 May 1965.

From then on, the Tunku decided that the removal of Singapore from the Malaysian Federation was the only way to mend the political fissures.

The Separation: A different Singapore
On 9 August 1965, Singapore was declared independent. The Tunku made a similar announcement on the separation to the federal parliament in Kuala Lumpur. During a press conference, Prime Minister Lee explained why the separation took place.

But I would say that the Tengku convinced me and he told me that he could not go on holding the situation much longer and that he could see real trouble in Malaysia if Singapore continues to be in it.

…You see, this is a moment of … everytime we look back on this moment when we signed this agreement which severed Singapore from Malaysia, it will be a moment of anguish.

…There is nothing to be worried about it. Many things will go on just as usual. But be firm, be calm. We are going to have a multi-racial nation in Singapore. We will set the example.

An excerpt from the transcript of a press conference given by the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, at Broadcasting House, 9 August 1965.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that political differences most significant in affecting Singapore-Malaysia relations?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about regional conflicts and co-operation, such as the Merger and Separation. Our H2 and H1 History Tuition classes will improve your reading and writing processes.

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JC History Tuition Online - What is the Sabah dispute - JC History Essay Notes

What is the Sabah dispute?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Inter-state tensions and co-operation: Causes of inter-state tensions: territorial disputes

Historical Context: The Malaysian Federation
Before the Malaysian Federation was formed, the Cobbold Commission was held to assess the willingness of the people in the North Borneo territories to support the merger. Later, the Commission concluded that about ‘one third’ were in favour of the Federation.

Yet, both Indonesia and the Philippines rejected the results of the Commission. Then, a tripartite meeting was conducted in Manila, in an attempt to resolve the differences among three, including Malayan Prime Minister Tunku.

12. The Philippines made it clear that its position on the inclusion of North Borneo in the Federation of Malaysia is subject to the final outcome of the Philippine claim to North Borneo. The Ministers took note of the Philippine claim and the right of the Philippines to continue to pursue it in accordance with international law and the principle of the pacific settlement of disputes. They agreed that the inclusion of North Borneo in the Federation of Malaysia would not prejudice either the claim or any right thereunder.

An excerpt from the Manila Accord, 31 July 1963.

The conclusion of the meeting was marked by the signing of the Manila Accord by the Philippine president Macapagal, Indonesian president Sukarno and the Tunku. All parties had expressed their desires to respect the wishes of the people in North Borneo, should the United Nations establish another commission to confirm the general opinion.

Nearly two months later, the United Nations Malaysia Mission report was submitted by the Secretary-General U Thant on 14 September 1963. The report stated that “majority of the peoples of Sabah (North Borneo) and of Sarawak, have given serious and thoughtful consideration to their future, and to the implications for them of participation in a Federation of Malaysia”.

However, the findings were again rejected by the claimants. Two key incidents occurred as a result of the Federation – the Confrontation and ‘Operation Merdeka’.

Conflicting Claims
From the Philippines’ perspective, Sabah was rightfully under their control, citing historical basis for their claims. In 1704, the Sultan of Brunei ceded the North Borneo territory to the Sultan of Sulu for quelling an internal rebellion. In the 19th century, major powers like Great Britain and Spain had recognised the Sultan of Sulu’s sovereignty over the territory.

In 1878, the Sultan of Sulu signs a contract of permanent lease with Baron von Overbeck and Alfred Dent. The rights over Sabah were transferred to the British North Borneo Company, in exchange for annual payments of 5,000 Malayan dollars.

However, Malaysia maintained its position that the North Borneo Company had ceded territorial rights of Sabah to Britain in 1946, thereby making it a British colony.

Visual illustration of the disputed claims over Sabah [Illustration by The Economist]

On 15 October 1968, the Philippine government brought the Sabah dispute to the United Nations General Assembly. In his address, the President Fidel Ramos proposed to submit the case to the International Court of Justice.

38. It is obvious even from a cursory examination of the documents to be considered in the determination of the issues involved in the dispute that the International Court of Justice is the organ of the United Nations that should take cognizance of the dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia. It is the body best suited to handle such a complex dispute.

39. In that case that Malaysia agrees to elevate the dispute to the Court, the Philippines will be prepared to abide by whatever decision that judicial body may render. If the decision of the Court is in favour of Malaysia, that will be the end of the Philippine claim. If the decision is in favour of the Philippines, that will not be the end of the case. For the Philippines is committed to the principle of self-determination and would be prepared to ensure the observance of that principle in Sabah.

An excerpt from the official records of the Twenty-Third Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 15 October 1968.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the implications of the Sabah dispute on bilateral relations between the Philippines and Malaysia in the 1960s.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about regional conflicts and co-operation, such as the Confrontation. Our H2 and H1 History Tuition classes are conducted online to broaden your understanding of different topics and refine your writing techniques for essay and SBCS.

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JC History Tuition Online - Konfrontasi Revisited - JC History Essay Notes

Konfrontasi: Revisited

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Inter-state tensions and co-operation: Causes of inter-state tensions: territorial disputes

Find out what happened during the Konfrontasi [Video by Singapore Bicentennial]

The Confrontation
In July 1963, the Konfrontasi (Confrontation) began, threatening the socio-political stability of the newly-formed Malaysian Federation. The conflict had significant impacts on the perceptions of neighbouring countries toward Indonesia, especially after the formation of ASEAN.

Impacts on Indonesia-Malaysia relations
Bilateral relations were affected by the ‘ghost’ of Konfrontasi. With the the institutional support from the regional organisation, both parties were more willing to cooperate politically and economically.

Despite mutual high-level reassurances, relations thus remain somewhat ‘brittle’. Bilateral ties are still more contingent than institutionalized, and neither side seems sure of the other’s genuine goodwill or commitment to reciprocity – whether ‘bilateralism’ really means something more than involving two parties. Much as Konfrontasi has been ascribed at last in part to Sukarno’s grandstanding style and the verbal jousting between him and Tunku Abdul Rahman, which left little room for compromise, a change in domestic mood – especially in a rise in non-negotiable, emotional nationalism – can still dangerously curtail policy options or public support for particular positions.

An excerpt from “International Relations in Southeast Asia: Between Bilateralism and Multilateralism” by N. Ganesan and Ramses Amer.

Impacts on Indonesia-Singapore relations
For Singapore, the lingering impacts of the Konfrontasi on bilateral relations had subsided by the 1970s, following the Prime Minister’s visit to Jakarta. Furthermore, increased cooperation between the two nations in the 1980s and 1990s had helped to normalise relations.

Although it remains contentious as to whether the kind of multilateralism enjoined by ASEAN has brought about a regional security community, in the sense of its members having stable expectations of peaceful dispute resolution among themselves, most accounts of the regional organization argue that it has served to embed shared interests, trust, and habits of cooperation.

An excerpt from “International Relations in Southeast Asia: Between Bilateralism and Multilateralism” by N. Ganesan and Ramses Amer.

Regional cooperation: A new goal
Notably, the Konfrontasi was a reminder to member nations of ASEAN on the fragility of diplomatic relations. At the final stages of the conflict, efforts were made by Suharto and his counterparts to de-escalate tensions amicably.

In wrecking the prospects for MAPHILINDO, Konfrontasi had underscored the importance of regionalism by demonstrating the high costs of the use of force to settle intra-regional conflicts.

… While interest in regionalism among the five member states of ASEAN was a result of varied geopolitical considerations, all recognised ASEAN’s value as a framework through which to prevent a return to a Konfrontasi-like situation. As a regional forum under Indonesia’s putative leadership, ASEAN would first and foremost constrain Indonesia’s possible return to belligerence.

An excerpt from “Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order (Politics in Asia)” by Amitav Acharya.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess whether inter-state tensions have hindered regional cooperation after 1967.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about regional conflicts and co-operation. Our H2 and H1 History Tuition classes are conducted online to improve your awareness of historical developments and refine your writing skills for essay and source based case study questions.

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JC H1 H2 History Tuition - When was the Berlin Wall built and why - Cold War Essay Notes

When was the Berlin Wall built and why?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) 

Learn more about the ‘Iron Curtain’ divided Europe [Video by Ted-Ed]

What is the Berlin Wall?
The German Berliner Mauer is a man-made barrier that surrounded West Berlin. It was established to built by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) on 13 August 1961 to prevent defections from East to West.

Why did the Germans flee from East to West Germany?
Following the end of World War Two, the signing of the Yalta and Potsdam Agreements led to the division of Germany into four occupation zones. The Soviet Union controlled the eastern zones, while the United States, Great Britain and France occupied the western part. Due to the deteriorating living conditions, most people moved from East to West Germany.

As difficult as life was in Berlin, refugees came to the city from Eastern Europe and other parts of Germany. Conditions were even worse in their hometowns, and they hoped they might have better luck surviving in Berlin.

Food was scarce across the city – a condition made worse by the Soviets. Before leaving the other sectors of Berlin, the Soviets had stolen 7,000 cows along with machinery and pipes from buildings. The Soviets also limited access to farms in the Soviet zone outside Berlin. The Soviets wanted the food for their troops in Germany. Still some Berliners managed to reach farms in the countryside.

An excerpt from “The Berlin Airlift: Breaking the Soviet Blockade” by Michael Burgan.

To prevent the departure of Berliners in the East, Stalin ordered the imposition of a Soviet blockade of West Berlin in 1948. In response, the Allies launched the Berlin Airlift that demonstrated their resolve to oversee the post-war recovery of the Western zones. More than 2.3 million tons of fuel and food were sent to West Berlin. A year later, the Berlin Blockade was lifted.

The Berlin Crisis
After the Berlin Wall was built, none could move from East to West Berlin, except through three checkpoints. “Checkpoint Charlie” (at Friedrichstrasse) was a site of flashpoint in October 1961.

On 22 October, a senior US diplomat in West Berlin was stopped by the East German border guards. General Lucius D. Clay ordered the deployment of American tanks to Checkpoint Charlie.

Moscow interpreted the move as an alarming threat. In retaliation, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev sent Russian tanks to the checkpoint as well. Both parties had military forces facing each other for nearly sixteen hours.

Fortunately, American President Kennedy opened communications with the Soviet government to de-escalate tensions. Eventually, both forces withdrew.

[Khrushchev] believed the peak of confrontation with the United States had passed, a perception that did not change during the October 26-27 tank stand-off in Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie. Khrushchev, tipped off by erroneous Soviet intelligence, believed that Lucius Clay, a commander of the U.S. forces in West Berlin, was ready to storm the Wall by force. Persuaded that Kennedy was not personally behind the ploy, the Soviet leader contacted him and the confrontation was quickly resolved.

An excerpt from “Khrushchev and the Berlin Crisis (1958-1962)” by Vladislav Martinovich Zubok.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Soviet Union was responsible for the Berlin Crisis of 1961?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Cold War and other topics. We conduct H2 and H1 History tuition for JC1 and JC2 students to get ready for the GCE A Level examination. Learn how to organise your content awareness and writing for essay and source based case study questions.

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JC H1 H2 History Tuition - What was the main purpose of the Potsdam Conference - Cold War Essay Notes

What was the main purpose of the Potsdam Conference?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 1: Emergence of Bipolarity after the Second World War [Manifestations of emerging tensions: Yalta and Potsdam conferences]

Examine the developments of the Potsdam Conference in 1945. [Video by British Movietone]

Historical context: The Percentages Agreement
Before the Yalta Conference, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had an informal meeting to discuss the division of post-war Europe. The two leaders meet during the Fourth Moscow Conference in October 1944. Churchill proposed to Stalin on the percentage division of control over Eastern European countries like Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia.

Churchill’s retrospective view was that the percentages deal saved Greece from communism. Stalin, however, had no intention of communising the country or of involving himself in a political project to that end. As he told Churchill at their meeting on 14 October 1944, the ‘Soviet Union did not intended to organise a Bolshevik Revolution in Europe’.

An excerpt from “Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953” by Geoffrey Roberts.

The Potsdam Conference
Five months after the Yalta Conference, another meeting was held, also known as the Potsdam Conference. The leaders gathered at the Cecilienhof Palace (refer to featured article image), which was situated in Brandenburg, Germany. During the talks, several matters were addressed, notably the treatment of Germany and the revision of the German-Soviet-Polish borders.

The administration of a divided Germany
During the meeting, the leaders deliberated on the management of the German zones under the Allied Control Council. All were in favour of the complete disarmament and demilitarisation of Germany. Additionally, reparations were to be made in accordance to the zones that the USSR, USA and the UK had occupied.

II. The principles to govern the treatment of Germany in the initial control period

A. Political Principles

1. In accordance with the Agreement on Control Machinery in Germany, supreme authority in Germany is exercised, on instructions from their respective Governments, by the Commanders-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the French Republic, each in his own zone of occupation, and also jointly, in matters affecting Germany as a whole, in their capacity as members of the Control Council.

III. Reparations from Germany

1. Reparation claims of the U.S.S.R. shall be met by removals from the zone of Germany occupied by the U.S.S.R., and from appropriate German external assets.

2. The U.S.S.R. undertakes to settle the reparation claims of Poland from its own share of reparations.

3. The reparation claims of the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries entitled to reparations shall be met from the Western Zones and from appropriate German external assets.

An excerpt from the Potsdam Agreement, 2 August 1945.

The Polish Issue
However, growing suspicions skewed the perceptions of the Western Allies towards the Soviet Union. Their suspicions were further shaped by the developments in Poland. During parliamentary elections in Poland in January 1947, the pro-Communist political parties secured the majority vote. Although Stalin agreed to oversee “free and unfettered” elections in Poland, the elections were rigged in favour of the Communists.

The Potsdam Conference of July and August 1945 opened on a dissonant note when the chief executives of the United States and Great Britain were faced with a number of unilateral Soviet actions in violation of the Yalta Agreements.

… After this Conference, the rift between the East and West widened gradually as the Western Allies became more aware of the expansion of Soviet power into the vacuum left by the collapse of Germany.

An excerpt from “Dividing and Uniting Germany by  Jürgen Thomaneck, William John Niven and Bill Niven.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that political differences between the ‘Big Powers’ led to the outbreak of the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about fascinating topics like the Cold War and United Nations. We conduct online learning programmes for JC1 and JC2 students taking either H1 or H2 History. In preparation for the GCE A Level History examination, we conduct topical revision, provide concise summary notes and hold class practices. With our comprehensive study programme, you will develop the thinking and writing skills to ace the assessments.

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JC H1 H2 History Tuition - What was the purpose of the Yalta Conference - Cold War Essay Notes

What was the purpose of the Yalta Conference?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 1: Emergence of Bipolarity after the Second World War [Manifestations of emerging tensions: Yalta and Potsdam conferences]

Re-look at the historic meeting at Yalta that shaped the post-WWII political landscape. [Video by British Pathé]

Historical context
The Yalta Conference (codenamed Argonaut) was a meeting of the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and Soviet Union from 4 to 11 February 1945 to deliberate on the post-war developments of Europe. Before the Yalta, the Tehran Conference (codenamed Eureka) was held from 28 November to 1 December 1943 that involved the discussion of a Western Front to repel the forces of Nazi Germany.

By February 1945, the Allied forces were certain that victory was within their grasp after liberating France and Belgium from Nazi occupation. The Yalta was conducted at the Black Sea resort in Crimea, hosting by the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Division of Germany
During the meeting, the participants agreed to divide Germany into four post-war occupation zones that were managed by the US, UK and Soviet Union. Additionally, there was consensus in ensuring the demilitarisation of Germany and the payment of post-war reparations to the affected parties like Soviet Union.

Under the agreed plan, the forces of the Three Powers will each occupy a separate zone of Germany. Co-ordinated administration and control has been provided for under the plan through a central Control Commission consisting of the Supreme Commanders of the Three Powers with headquarters in Berlin.

… It is our inflexible purpose to destroy German militarism and Nazism and to ensure that Germany will never again be able to disturb the peace of the world.

An excerpt from “Roosevelt and the Russians: The Yalta Conference“, by Edward R. Stettinius Jr.

From the above excerpt, it referred to the creation of an Allied Control Council that form the legal authority for post-war Germany. The Council was helmed by four members: General Dwight Eisenhower (United States), Marshall Georgy Zhukov (Soviet Union), Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (United Kingdom) and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny (France).

The Declaration of Liberated Europe
The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill proposed the conduct of free and fair elections in Eastern and Central Europe. Along the same vein, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin agreed to oversee free elections in Poland and other Eastern European territories, but insisted in retaining the Polish territories annexed in 1939. Stalin’s stance was built on the basis that Germany had invaded Russia through Poland twice.

II. DECLARATION OF LIBERATED EUROPE

The following declaration has been approved:

… The establishment of order in Europe and the rebuilding of national economic life must be achieved by processes which will enable the liberated peoples to destroy the last vestiges of nazism and fascism and to create democratic institutions of their own choice. This is a principle of the Atlantic Charter – the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live – the restoration of sovereign rights and self-government to those peoples who have been forcibly deprived to them by the aggressor nations.

VII. POLAND

The following declaration on Poland was agreed by the conference:

A new situation has been created in Poland as a result of her complete liberation by the Red Army. This calls for the establishment of a Polish Provisional Government which can be more broadly based than was possible before the recent liberation of the western part of Poland. The Provisional Government which is now functioning in Poland should therefore be reorganized on a broader democratic basis with the inclusion of democratic leaders from Poland itself and from Poles abroad. This new Government should then be called the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity.

An excerpt from the Yalta Agreement, 11 February 1945.

Conceptualisation of the United Nations
During the Yalta, the ‘Big Three’ discussed the formal establishment of the United Nations and participation by the Soviet Union. The Agreement outlined the voting procedures within the Security Council that were eventually enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

A looming threat
However, the possibility of post-war peace among the ‘Big Three’ had dissolved when the Soviets supported the formation of the pro-Communist Lublin Committee (also known as the Polish Committee of National Liberation) that opposed the Western-backed Polish government-in-exile. During Conference, Roosevelt wrote a letter to Stalin, hoping that the Soviet leader would cooperate amicably.

In so far as the Polish Government is concerned, I am greatly disturbed that the three great powers do not have a meeting of minds about the political setup in Poland. It seems to me that it puts all of us in a bad light throughout the world to have you recognizing one government while we and the British are recognizing another in London. I am sure this state of affairs should not continue and that if it does it can only lead our people to think there is a breach between us, which is not the case. I am determined that there shall be no breach between ourselves and the Soviet Union. Surely there is a way to reconcile our differences.

… I have had to make it clear to you that we cannot recognize the Lublin Government as now composed, and the world would regard it as a lamentable outcome of our work here if we parted with an open and obvious divergence between us on this issue.

An excerpt from US President Roosevelt’s letter to Stalin on “Acceptable compromise regarding the composition of the postwar Polish Government”, 6 February 1945.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the breakdown of the Grand Alliance was the main reason for the outbreak of the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Cold War. We conduct online learning programmes for JC 1 and JC 2 students taking either H1 or H2 History. You will receive study notes, essay outlines and source based case study practices to be ready for the GCE A Level History examination.

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JC History Tuition - What is the main purpose of ASEAN - JC History Essay Notes

What is the main purpose of ASEAN?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Reasons for the formation of ASEAN

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Find out how ASEAN has evolved over the years ever since its inception in 1967 [Video by NowThisWorld]

The tumultuous sixties: Why was ASEAN formed?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established as a regional organisation on 8 August 1967 by five members – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.

The regional grouping was formed during a troubling decade in which Southeast Asian governments were pre-occupied with domestic challenges, such as the rise of Communist insurgencies.

Let’s take a look at the Bangkok Declaration that was signed by the five members:

SECOND, that the aims and purposes of the Association shall be:

1. To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of South-East Asian Nations;

2. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;

An excerpt from the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration), 8 August 1967.

In order to understand the purpose of ASEAN, it is imperative to consider the motivations of individual member states.

Singapore: Economics and Regional Security
For Singapore, ASEAN was a necessary grouping to address the immediate concerns of the government. On 9 August 1945, the leaders of an ‘accidental nation’ had to contend with the limited resources in Singapore. On 18 July 1967, the British announced its plans to withdraw from the East of Suez. The unexpected departure of the British forces left Singapore vulnerable to security threats.

As one of the founding fathers of ASEAN, Mr Rajaratnam played a pivotal role in fostering an ASEAN consensus and promoting a more cohesive and cooperative region. Initially, he argued that regional cooperation should be contemplated primarily in economic terms.

… Mr Rajaratnam articulated Singapore’s view that ASEAN was primarily an organisation for promoting economic cooperation and not for resolving the region’s military and security problems.

An excerpt from “S Rajaratnam on Singapore: From Ideas to Reality” by Chong Guan Kwa, S. Rajaratnam.

However, not all members were supportive of the reliance on external powers for regional security, such as Indonesia.

Indonesia: Regional leadership in a post-Konfrontasi era
The former President Sukarno’s policy of Confrontation had strained diplomatic relations with neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Singapore. Subsequently, Suharto supported the formation of ASEAN not only to mend relations but also strive to assume a leadership position in the grouping.

Nevertheless, Suharto still held a common view with his predecessor in pursuing a policy of non-alignment.

In effect, the policy of konfrontasi prevented Indonesia from winning recognition as a regional leader in Southeast Asia and beyond in the non-aligned movement. Later, President Suharto would argue that Sukarno’s konfrontasi had also violated Indonesia’s bebas-aktif principle in foreign affairs, whereby Jakarta was to pursue an independent and active foreign policy, which implied avoiding an alignment with any one bloc.

An excerpt from “ASEAN’s Diplomatic and Security Culture: Origins, Development and Prospects” by Jurgen Haacke.

On 16 August 1966, Tun Razak and Adam Malik signed the Jakarta Agreement that signified the official end to the Confrontation. The Agreement was built on the basis on an earlier Bangkok Accord that required Indonesia to recognise Malaysia diplomatically. Malaysian-Indonesian relations were eventually normalised on 31 August 1967, a few weeks after ASEAN was established.

Regional cooperation was firstly intended to exorcize the ghost of confrontation, to provide a contrast between Sukarno’s confrontative foreign policy and the New Order’s more conciliatory approach.

… Nevertheless, the urgency for Indonesia to co-found ASEAN was primarily to restore the country’s regional and international standing.

An excerpt from “Indonesia in ASEAN: Foreign Policy and Regionalism” by Dewi Fortuna Anwar.

The relevance of ASEAN in the post-Cold War era
Although some critics point out that ASEAN has yet to resolve the South China Sea dispute, many recognise ASEAN’s successes in contributing to the creation of a peaceful and stable region. In 2017, ASEAN celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Moving forward, member nations have reaffirmed their commitment in advancing regional cooperation.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the ASEAN was formed as a result of economic reasons.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the regional organisation. Sign up for the online learning programme and you will receive study materials and practice questions. We teach students to think, organise and write effectively for essay and source based case study questions.

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JC History Tuition - The Enlargement of ASEAN - JC History Essay Notes

The Enlargement of ASEAN

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: Growth and development of ASEAN

Learn more about ASEAN and its member nations. [Video by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung]

ASEAN: The Founding Five
Ever since the Bangkok Declaration was signed in 1967, ASEAN was formed by five founding member nations to promote regional cooperation. The five members are: Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

In the 1980s and 1990s, five new members joined ASEAN, namely Brunei Darussalam (8 January 1984), Vietnam (28 July 1995), Laos and Myanmar (23 July 1997) and Cambodia (30 April 1999).

Let’s look at some of the key considerations for ASEAN’s new members, namely Vietnam and Myanmar.

1. Vietnam
Before Vietnam joined ASEAN, member nations of ASEAN did not establish strong diplomatic ties with said country. This was largely the result of Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1978. Its illegal occupation was perceived by many not only as a threat to sovereign rights, but also security risks.

Furthermore, ideological differences between ASEAN members (which mostly advocated democracy) and Vietnam further made it difficult for political leaders to see eye to eye.

Nevertheless, member nations, including Thailand (which was initially concerned with Vietnam’s military aggression in Cambodia) were supportive of admitting Vietnam due to the significant benefits to facilitate regional economic integration.

Fear of Vietnam defined ASEAN for much of its institutional history; now ASEAN’s main antagonist has joined the fold. The decision to allow Vietnam membership, and to fast-track the applications of other Southeast Asian states, was pushed by Thailand, which saw itself as the economic hub of mainland Southeast Asia and perceived ASEAN’s expansion as an opportunity to increase its own status within ASEAN.

An excerpt from “Explaining ASEAN: Regionalism in Southeast Asia” by Shaun Narine.

From the Vietnam’s perspective, the consideration of becoming part of the ASEAN family was a desirable prospect. The gradual decline of the Cold War rivalry ushered a new era of political cooperation in Southeast Asia. In 1986, the Vietnamese government conducted a policy reform, known as Doi Moi, to advance economic development. As such, Vietnam adopted a more outward-looking attitude and sought cooperation with ASEAN members.

The end of the conflict in Vietnam, and of the Cold War, removed some of the barriers to co-operation. The essential factor for Vietnam’s membership into ASEAN, however, stemmed from the policy of reform or renovation (doi moi) that the Vietnamese Communist Party announced in 1986. It was this policy that led Vietnam to approach ASEAN with increasing interest from the mid-1980s.

Excerpt from “The 2nd ASEAN Reader” edited by Sharon Siddique and Sree Kumar.

2. Myanmar
As for Myanmar, the political controversies surrounding the alleged human rights violations explained the reluctance of some member states of ASEAN in accepting Myanmar’s admission. Furthermore, Western countries, including the USA, also expressed similar sentiments towards ASEAN’s decision to admit Myanmar.

In the late 1960s, ASEAN members had invited Myanmar to join the organisation. However, Myanmar was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement and rejected the offer. In the early 1990s, the military government changed its stance as the leaders believed that a policy of isolationism was not desirable for its progress.

Notably, ASEAN’s past successes and effective political mechanisms (including the ASEAN Way) were motivating factors that spurred these countries to join the organisation as well.

According to Khin Ohn Thant (2001), there were at least two reasons which led to Burma’s decision to join ASEAN. First, towards at the end of the millennium, internal and external conditions had changed in the country. Domestically, Myanmar had expended large resources on internal security measures for decades, and now “the government had signed peace treaties with most of the revels, who have laid down their arms. This now allows the Myanmar Government to devote more attention to external matters, including ASEAN“.

The second reason, suggested by Khin, was that, “in this age of globalization and regionalism, the country realizes that it cannot continue to isolate itself. It needs to identify with a sympathetic group, which will treat it as one of them, and a group that will not exploit Myanmar’s weak situation.”

Most probably, the “ASEAN Way”, that is, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and its consensus-building and conflict resolution mechanisms, attracted Myanmar into the embrace of ASEAN.

Excerpt from “Myanmar in ASEAN: Regional Cooperation Experience” by Mya Than.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that ASEAN’s enlargement was successful in promoting regional unity.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about ASEAN. We cover thematic issue discussion for topics like Inter-state tensions and regional co-operation. We also provide source based case study questions (SBCS) to demonstrate the application of reading and writing skills.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Why was North Korea involved in the Korean War

Why was North Korea involved in the Korean War?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: The Korean War (1950)

Find out how the Korean War began and its impact on a divided nation. [Video by South China Morning Post]

Prelude to the War
Before the North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea, the North Korean leader Kim Il Sung made several visits to meet Stalin in person. Kim bore the political ambition to reunify the Korean peninsula under Communism. In March 1949, Kim made his way to Moscow and discussed with the Soviet leader the prospect of an invasion.

Stalin: Are they penetrating into the South Korean army? Do they have their own people there?

Pak Heon-yeong: They are penetrating, but so far they are not revealing themselves there.

Stalin: This is correct. It is not necessary to reveal themselves now. The southerners also, apparently, are sending their people into the army of the north. They need [to exercise] caution.

An excerpt from Kim Il Sung’s conversation with Stalin during his Moscow visit on 5 March 1949. Pak Heon-yeong was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in North Korea from 1948 to 1953.

Evidently, Stalin was cautious not to cause alarm and alert the USA. As such, he rejected Kim’s request to start an invasion. In May 1949, Kim then visited the Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Beijing. He hoped that China would provide military support to advance his reunification efforts.

In May 1949, Kim Il-sung sent Kim Il, Head of the General Political Department of the Korean People’s Army to visit Beijing. The main purpose of Kim Il’s visit was to ask China to transfer the several divisions made up by soldiers of Korean nationality to North Korea…

In their meeting, Mao Zedong said: “Kim Il-sung should make all necessary preparations at all times for a guerrilla warfare or a protracted warfare.” Mao predicted that Japan might help South Korea in the war and he expressed that “China can send its troops to help North Korea if necessary.” However, Mao Zedong did not agree to Kim Il-sung’s plan for an immediate reunification of Korea by force.

An excerpt from “China and the United States: A New Cold War History” by Xiaobing Li and Hongshan Li.

From these two interactions, it can be observed that Mao Zedong shared similar sentiments as Stalin, in which North Korea should attack only in retaliation to aggression by South Korea. The Chinese leader was concerned with increased American intervention as he was also preoccupied with the ongoing Chinese Civil War.

Final preparations
In April 1950, Kim Il-Sung met with Stalin in Moscow again. Kim sought to reassure the Soviet leader that his proposed invasion would result in a swift and decisive victory, such that the USA would not be able to step in. This time, Stalin finally approved Kim’s request but with the condition that both China and North Korea must achieve a consensus in the invasion.

In a conversation with the Korean comrades, Filippov [Stalin] and his friends expressed the opinion, that, in light of the changed international situation, they agree with the proposal of the Koreans to move toward reunification. In this regard, a qualification was made that the question should be decided finally by the Chinese and Korean comrades together, and, in case of disagreement by the Chinese comrades, the decision on the question should be postponed until a new discussion.

An excerpt from Stalin’s reply for Mao Zedong on 14 May 1950.

This “changed international situation” could be better understood by Stalin’s consideration of a speech by the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, which was commonly referred to as the “Perimeter Speech” that outlined US foreign policy in Asia. Stalin was certain that the speech’s exclusion of Korea would give Kim Il-sung ample time to complete his reunification efforts.

This defensive perimeter runs along the Aleutians to Japan and then goes to the Ryukyus. We hold important defense positions in the Ryukyu Islands, and those we will continue to hold. In the interest of the population of the Ryukyu Islands, we will at an appropriate time offer to hold these islands under trusteeship of the United Nations. But they are essential parts of the defensive perimeter of the Pacific, and they must and will be held.

… Should such an attack occur, one hesitates to say where such an armed attack could come from, the initial reliance must be on the people attacked to resist it and then upon the commitments of the entire civilized world under the Charter of the United Nations…

An excerpt from Dean Acheson’s speech to the National Press Club on 12 January 1950.

Following Stalin’s arrangements with North Korea and China, the North Korean invasion began on 25 June 1950, thus signalling the start of the conflict.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that ideological motivations shaped the involvement of Soviet Union in the Korean War.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Korean War. We conduct online learning programmes to impart students with the writing skills to answer essay and source based case study questions effectively.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War Notes - Why did the superpowers get involved in the Korean War

Why did the superpowers get involved in the Korean War?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: The Korean War (1950)

Learn more about the political motivations that shaped US involvement in the Korean War. [Video by PragerU]

Historical context
The Korean War began as a civil war between North Korea and South Korea. Local leaders Kim II-sung and Sygnman Rhee pursued the aim of reunifying the Korean peninsula under diametrically-opposite ideologies. Notably, both governments turned to the superpowers for military support. Yet, it is myopic to claim that the conflict remained localised as the USA and Soviet Union were also influenced by their strategic motivations to aid the two Koreas, thus escalating the event to a proxy war.

1. Stalin’s tactical gambit
From the Soviet perspective, Stalin aided Kim II-sung to divert the attention of his Cold War rival from the European theatre of war. Distinguished historians Donggil Kim and William Stueck arrived at this conclusion after analysing Joseph Stalin’s telegram to the Czechoslovak President Klement Gottawald.

The reason we eventually allowed the war in Korea is because: let us suppose that the U.S. continues to be tied down in the Far East and also pulls China into the struggle. What might come out of this? It follows that America would over-extend itself in this struggle. It is clear that the United States of America is presently distracted from Europe in the Far East. Does it not give us an advantage in the global balance of power, especially back in Europe? It undoubtedly does, allowing us to use this war to our advantage.

An excerpt from Stalin’s telegram to Czech President Klement Gottwald, 27 August 1950.

The telegram was delivered on 27 August 1950, nearly two months after North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel and entered the South Korean territory. Interestingly, Stalin reassured his Cold War ally that Soviet Union’s absence in the Security Council was a calculated risk.

2. A litmus test for American commitment
As for the Truman administration, increased US involvement in the Korean War was largely influenced by the fear of ideological expansion in East Asia as well as domestic political pressure.

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong formed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 1 October 1949 after his victory against Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists in the Chinese Civil War. Soon, Stalin forged diplomatic ties with Mao Zedong by signing the Treat of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance on 14 February 1950. These developments had alarmed the US government as the Soviet Union gained a new ally.

The “loss of China” became a partisan issue. Leading Republicans, especially Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio and former President Herbert C. Hoover, assailed Truman, Acheson, and “treacherous Communists” in the State Department for Chiang’s defeat. MacArthur, considered the China Lobby’s ally, said that allowing the Communists to grow in power in China was “the greatest political mistake we made in a hundred years in the Pacific.”

An excerpt from “Truman, MacArthur, and the Korean War” by Dennis D. Wainstock.

Additionally, Truman also faced mounting pressure domestically to fight the Communists. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy criticised Truman for being “soft” on Communism. As such, the American government became more determined to defend South Korea. These actions were also meant to demonstrate to its allies that the USA was ready to protect them from external aggression, as described by Dean Acheson at the National Press Club on 12 January 1950.

Although post-World War II anti-communism and the makings of the Second Red Scare can be traced all the way back to 1946, not until after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea and the Chinese intervention did McCarthy reach full fury, hurling wild accusations and contriving a political atmosphere so poisonous that it has since come to bear his name: McCarthyism.

…however, the overall political atmosphere he created certainly affected the parameters within which Truman and his advisers had to operate.

An excerpt from “Truman and Korea: The Political Culture of the Early Cold War” by by Paul G. Pierpaoli.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that ideological concerns were the main motivation that shaped superpower involvement in the Korean War?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the Korean War. We provide concise study notes and conduct writing workshops to improve your reading and writing skills to ace the GCE A Level History examinations. Be proficient in essay writing and the analysis of Source Based Case Study questions.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.