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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - Why did Konfrontasi happen - JC History Essay Notes

Why did Konfrontasi happen?

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

Learn more about the consequences of inter-state tensions during “The Confrontation”.
Watch the “Days of Rage” documentary to understand the significance of the event.

What is the Konfrontasi?
Also known as the “Confrontation”, it was Indonesia’s response to the formation of the British-influenced Federation of Malaysia. During the decolonisation process in Southeast Asia, Malaya became an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations on 31 August 1957.

In May 1961, Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman announced a proposal to form the Federation of Malaysia, which included Singapore and the British colonies in Borneo (Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei). Initially, the Indonesian government did not raise any concerns regarding this proposal.

However, Indonesian President Sukarno criticised the formation of Malaysia, claiming that it was a form of British-led “neo-imperialism” that threatened the interests of Indonesia. On 20 January 1963, Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr Subandrio announced a policy of Konfrontasi towards Malaysia.

Attempts to de-escalate tensions: Manila Accord
Nevertheless, both parties sought to defuse tensions through peaceful diplomatic means. In May 1963, both Sukarno and the Tunku held talks in Tokyo, Japan. The Tunku was in consensus of holding a referendum before the formation of the Federation, emphasising that the will of the people in the Borneo Territories was to be respected.

On 31 July 1963, the Manila Accord was signed between Malaya, Philippines and Indonesia. The Accord was initiated by the Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal. Its aim was to take into account the referendum in North Borneo and Sarawak, whether they supported their entry into the Federation of Malaysia.

In this context, the three Ministers supported President Macapagal’s plan envisaging the grouping of the three nations of Malay origin working together in closest harmony but without surrendering any portion of their sovereignty. This calls for the establishment of the necessary common organs…

The Federation of Malaya expressed appreciation for this attitude of Indonesia and the Philippines and undertook to consult the British Government and the Government of the Borneo territories with a view to inviting the Secretary-General of the United Nations or his representative to take the necessary steps in order to ascertain the wishes of the people of those territories

Excerpts from the Manila Accord, 31 July 1963

However, Indonesia accused Malaysia of not abiding by the Manila Accord as the Tunku signed the London Agreement on 9 July which officially meant that the Federation was to be formed on 31 August.

An “Undeclared War”: The Confrontation
On 27 July 1963, President Sukarno gave a rousing speech and announced the Ganyang Malaysia (Crush Malaysia) campaign.

After it has become clear that our efforts have been rejected and responded to with humiliation and an act of hostility, as for instance the call for a general mobilization;

I give the command to the twenty-one million volunteers, who have already registered their names, to increase the strength of resistance of the Indonesian revolution and support the revolutionary peoples of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah to dissolve the puppet state of Malaysia.

Indonesian President Sukarno’s speech, May 1964

Two days after the formation of the Federation, the militarised confrontation began in Singapore and the Malaysian Peninsula. For instance, Singapore suffered a series of bomb explosions, including the MacDonald House incident (see featured video) on 10 March 1965.

The end of the Konfrontasi: 30 September Movement
The Konfrontasi came to an end partially due to the internal political division in Indonesia. On 1 October 1965, a failed coup attempt led by Indonesian military personnel had caused the deaths of six generals. Subsequently, General Suharto, the commander of the Indonesian reserve army, purged the communist threat (Partai Kommunis Indonesia, PKI) and replaced Sukarno as President.

In 1966, the newly-formed Indonesian government extended its offer for peace talks with Malaysia. Eventually, then-Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak, and then-Indonesian Foreign Minister Adam Malik signed a peace treaty (Jakarta Accord) on 12 August 1966, thus marking the end of the Konfrontasi.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the breakdown of the Indonesian-Malaysian relations was due to ideological differences [to be discussed in class]?

Now that you have covered the summary of the Confrontation, it is important that you apply your knowledge to source-based case study questions. You can also join our JC History Tuition. During our lessons, you will receive timeline and summary notes as well as exam-driven class practices to refine your reading and writing skills.

Sign up for other related JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the A Level H1 History syllabus

New A Level H1 History syllabus

Changes to the GCE A Level H1 History syllabus
Similar to H2 History, the A Level syllabus for H1 History (8821) has been reviewed and modified. It is imperative that you take note of these changes as examination format and contents have been changed from 2017 and beyond.

If you require additional references, please view the documents provided by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB): H1 History syllabus for 2020; H1 History syllabus for 2021.

1. Format of Assessment
For the examination structure, the H1 History (8821) syllabus features only one paper:

  • The Cold War and the Modern World (1945-2000)

The duration of examination is three hours. Within the paper, there are two sections: Source-Based Case Study (Section A) and Essays (Section B).

1a. Section A: Source-Based Case Study
The first section requires students to analyse five sources and answer two sub-questions. These sources are either text-based (e.g. academic publication) or visual-based (e.g. political cartoon – refer to our post on political cartoons). Bear in mind that both primary and secondary sources could be used in this section.

Section A carries 40 marks in total, which is 40% of the overall weighting.

For the part (a) question, students must compare two sources. It carries ten marks. For the part (b) question, students must analyse an assertion and refer to the given five sources. Application of contextual evidence may be required to answer these sub-questions.

1b. Section B: Essays
The other section involves essay writing, in which students have to complete two essays in Section B. For the first essay question, students must select 1 out of 2 essay questions that are set on Theme II (The Cold War and Asia, 1945-1991). For the second essay question, they must choose 1 out of 2 essay questions that are set on Theme III (The Cold War and the United Nations, 1945-2000).

Each essay question carries 30 marks. In total, Section B carries 60 marks, which is 60% of the overall weighting.

2. Syllabus Content
Next, we will now examine the areas of study to understand the list of topics covered for A Level H1 History (8821). At the end of the study, you should develop a keen sense of understanding about the Cold War and how its local, regional and global impacts.

2a. Theme I: Understanding the Cold War, 1945-1991
The first theme is strictly for the assessment of Section A, Source-Based Case Study. You will examine three stages of the Cold War to understand how it began and ended. First, the Emergence of Bipolarity after WWII discusses the possibly reasons that explain the outbreak of the Cold War. Then, A World Divided by the Cold War discusses two major events that explained the ‘”globalisation” of the ideological conflict, namely the Korean War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Finally, the End of Bipolarity focuses on the study of how the USSR collapsed as well as the popular interpretations for the end of the Cold War.

2b. Theme II: The Cold War and Asia, 1945-1991
The second theme is applied in Section B, Essays. In this theme, you will learn more about the effects of Cold War in shaping the diplomatic relations of superpowers and a rising great power: China. In Superpower relations with China (1950-1979), you will analyse the historical developments that led to the notable Sino-Soviet Split. Also, a major turning point in the 1970s will be studied, such as the Sino-American Rapprochement.

The second half of Theme II features The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991). At the regional level, you will learn more about the motivations that led to the formation of the ASEAN organisation as well as the significance of the Second Indochina War (more commonly known as the ‘Vietnam War’). At the national level, you will examine how the ongoing Cold War threats influenced Singapore’s Foreign Policy from 1965 to 1991.

2c. Theme III: The Cold War and the United Nations, 1945-2000
As for the final third theme, which is also assessed in the essay section, you will develop a fundamental understanding of the United Nations (UN), which plays a central role of maintaining international peace and security. This is achieved through a brief examination of the Organisational Structure of the UN, which features the three key organs: Security Council, General Assembly and the Secretary-General.

As for the second half of Theme III, you will focus on six case studies to assess the Effectiveness of UN Peacekeeping Operations in Maintaining Peace and Security. A thorough review of each case study is paramount, given that past examination questions were set on specific cases.


If you are looking for writing support, do consider joining our JC History Tuition programmes. You will receive organised study notes, essay outline references and source-based case study questions. Furthermore, we conduct thematic content discussion to reinforce your historical understanding of the Cold War. Class practices are held regularly to ensure that you observe progress as you gear up for the GCE A Level examination.

On a separate but related note, we offer other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the A Level H2 History syllabus

New A Level H2 History syllabus

Changes to the GCE A Level H2 History syllabus
From 2017 onwards, the A Level History syllabus has been reviewed and updated. In contrast to the previous syllabus, there are some changes to the topics covered in the essay and source-based case study questions. Also, changes to the examination format are made. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to these developments as you gear up for the final examination. In this article, we will be looking at the syllabus requirements for H2 History (9752).

For more information, please refer to the comprehensive document provided by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB): H2 History Syllabus for 2020; H2 History Syllabus for 2021

1. Format of Assessment
For the examination format, the H2 History (9752) syllabus features two papers:

  • Paper 1: Shaping the International Order (1945-2000)
  • Paper 2: The Making of Independent Southeast Asia (Independence-2000)

Students are required to sit for two separate papers (dates are usually announced in the first few months of the examination year). Within each paper, there are two key sections: Source-Based Case Study and Essays. Since the format for Paper 1 and Paper 2 is identical, we will be examining the two sections in a paper.

1a. Section A: Source-Based Case Study
The first section features the Source-Based Case Study (SBCS in short). Students are required to analyse six sources and answer two sub-questions. These sources can be in the form of written or visual texts. For example, a press release by the U.S. State Department during the Cold War. Alternatively, the source can be a political cartoon that depicts an issue or individual. You can learn more about visual-based sources in our post.

In total, Section A carries 40 marks, which is 20% of the overall weighting.

For the part (a) question, students must compare two sources and answer in the context of the question. It carries ten marks.

Compare and contrast the evidence provided in Sources A and B about Reagan’s motivations behind the Strategic Defense Initiative. [10]

example of the part (a) question

For the part (b) question, students must study all six sources and test the given assertion. This part carries 30 marks.

How far do Sources A-F support the assertion that the Cold War ended mainly because of Reagan? [30]

example of the part (b) Question

1b. Section B: Essays
The second section features the essays. Students are required to answer two questions from Section B.

They have to select 1 out of 2 essay questions in the first set (Paper 1 – Theme II; Paper 2 – Theme I). Then, students must do the same by selecting 1 out of 2 essay questions in the other set (Paper 1 – Theme III; Paper 2 – Theme II).

Within the Section B itself, there will be the ‘EITHER‘ and ‘OR‘ stated clearly to show the available choices for students to pick their preferred choice of question to attempt.

Each essay question carries 30 marks. Therefore, the total marks for Section B is 60 marks, which is 30% of the overall weighting.

How far was the United Nations able to overcome the challenge of Cold War rivalry?

Example of the section b essay question

One important point to remember is that for the Paper 2 Section B, students must compare at least three countries as case studies when supporting their arguments.

2. Syllabus Content
Now that we have examined the examination format, we will now move on to the areas of study for H2 History (9752). Given the broad coverage of content, this article will provide a brief summary of the topics tested for A Level.

2a. Paper 1: Shaping the International Order (1945-2000)
For Paper 1 (which is formerly known as ‘International History’), there are three major themes covered:

  • Theme I: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991) [SBCS]
  • Theme II: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000) [Essay]
  • Theme III: Safeguarding International Peace and Security [Essay]

For Theme I, students will examine the Cold War topic from a chronological order: starting with its origins, followed by its internationalisation and finally its eventual end. The Cold War topic is an overarching theme that is essential for A Level given its widespread effects not only in Europe, but also in Southeast Asia. This means that your knowledge of the Cold War can be applied to Paper 2 as well.

For Theme II, students will learn more about the Growth and Problems in the Global Economy as well as the Rise of Asian Tigers (South Korea and Taiwan). This topic can be analysed both from the economic and political perspectives. Notably, the establishment of multilateral financial institutions (IMF, World Bank & WTO) still affects the modern world in many ways.

For Theme III, students are required to be familiar with the formation of the United Nations as well as its application in Peacekeeping Operations. Given the ever-changing and ever-expanding functions of the United Nations, the A Level H2 History syllabus will only cover four organs: Security Council, General Assembly, Secretary-General and the International Court of Justice. For UN Reforms, there will be changes to the content coverage, particularly the section about the ‘rise of regionalism and regional organisations’.

2b. Paper 2: The Making of Independent Southeast Asia (Independence-2000)
For Paper 1, there are three main themes as well:

  • Theme I: Search for Political Stability [Essay]
  • Theme II: Economic Development after Independence [Essay]
  • Theme III: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation [SBCS]

For Theme I, students will learn about the Approaches to Governance and the Approaches to National Unity. This theme will provide a historical study on how various Southeast Asian colonies (as well as Thailand) became independent after World War Two. Political concepts, such as ‘Parliamentary Democracy’ and ‘Authoritarianism’ will be covered as well.

For Theme II, students are required to learn about the Paths to Economic Development and the Asian Financial Crisis. Similar to Paper 1 Theme II (Global Economy), the application of general economic concepts is carried out to understand how Southeast Asian nations became prosperous. Additionally, there will be a section dedicated to understand the causes and consequences of the 1997 financial crisis.

For Theme III, students are expected to be familiar with Inter-state Tensions and Co-operation as well as the establishment of the ASEAN. This theme is largely relevant in raising awareness on the political complexities of inter-state relations, given the persistence of such challenges in the modern world (e.g. South China Sea dispute). Furthermore, students will learn how this newly-formed regional organisation strives to maintain regional peace and security through various methods.


You can sign up for our JC History Tuition to study productively. Our programme features summary notes, essay outline references and source-based case study practice questions. Our structured curriculum will ensure that your time is well-spent as you learn in a progressive way.

Furthermore, you can consider register for our JC tuition, like GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How to answer an A Level History essay question

How to answer an A Level History essay question?

Essay Writing: Revisited
In contrast to the typical posts that feature specific themes, such as the Cold War and the United Nations, I will re-cap on the critical aspects of essay writing, which is for Section B. This is done in view of the GCE A Level examination for H1 and H2 History in November 2019. Previously, I have also posted a similar article that highlighted relevant areas of study.

1. Be familiar with the syllabus requirements
It is important to understand the featured themes that are covered in the examination. By doing so, you can derive a clear strategy for the actual day.

(a) For H2 History (9752), there are Papers 1 and 2:

  • For Paper 1, you are required to answer ONE essay question from Theme II: Understanding the Global Economy and ONE essay question from Theme III: Safeguarding International Peace and Security.
  • For Paper 2, you are required to answer ONE essay question from Theme I: Search for Political Stability and ONE essay question from Theme II: Economic Development after Independence

(b) For H1 History (8821), there is one paper, but the examination format is identical to the H2 syllabus:

  • You are required to answer ONE essay question from Theme II: The Cold War and Asia
  • Also, you have to answer ONE essay question from Theme III: The Cold War and the United Nations

(c) Be familiar with the topics tested within each theme
Within each theme, there are several topics that students are expected to learn and apply in the essay section. For example, H2 History Paper 2 Theme II has two main areas: ‘Paths to economic development’ and ‘Asian Financial Crisis’.

Although some students hold the assumption that they can spot, meaning that they focus on specific topics, while excluding others, it is a risky strategy to take.

Although some students hold the assumption that they can spot, meaning that they focus on specific topics, while excluding others, it is a risky strategy to take. In view of the recent 2019 A Level examination (for H2 History), the ‘Asian Financial Crisis’ was not featured in Section B. We have gathered feedback from students and some revealed that there were those who were unable to write the second essay due to the lack of content familiarity.

Therefore, our concluding remark is that you are strongly advised against spotting as it can result in such disastrous consequences. Instead, it is crucial to cover all relevant topics within each theme. At least, you should cover the fundamental content for the topic that you are less likely to select during the examination.

2. Read the essay question carefully
Cliché as it sounds, this word of advice should not be ignored. From the question itself, you can derive the given perspective as well as the contrasting viewpoint. Misinterpretation is a typical issue that some students encounter in their study of the subject.

(a) What is the question looking for?
In History essay writing, students are required to analyse the extent of agreement based on the given perspective set by the question. Look out for phrases like ‘how far do you agree’ and ‘how important‘.

(b) Are we allowed to introduce other factors/perspectives not featured in the question?
This is a major consideration as the decision to introduce irrelevant factors in a narrow-based question can compromise your essay grade.

The following are two essay questions:

  • How far do you agree that the Cold War hindered the effectiveness of the United Nations?
  • How far do you agree that the Cold War was the most significant obstacle that hindered the effectiveness of the United Nations?

Clearly, we can observe that the second essay question is broader in nature as students are allowed to introduce other factors besides the ‘Cold War’ to answer the question. In contrast, the first question is more specific than the latter.

3. Manage your time wisely
In general, everyone is given the same amount of time for the A Level examination – 3 hours. To the uninitiated, 180 minutes may be perceived as long. However, one must be aware of the need to answer 1 source-based case study question and 2 essay questions within the time limit.

To the uninitiated, 180 minutes may be perceived as long. However, one must be aware of the need to answer 1 source-based case study question and 2 essay questions within the time limit.

Furthermore, students are assessed based on their ability to perform under pressure, such as deriving a clear essay structure and forming well-analysed arguments that are backed with adequate evidence. As such, it is folly to leave practice to the last phase of your two-year study.

You should set time aside for timed practices, even if it is for one essay question. When you are attempting the timed practice, you are not only reviewing your content familiarity, but also re-wiring your brain to think fast and clearly. Over time, you develop the quick-thinking skills to form arguments and critique the given perspective effectively.

4. Prepare yourself thoroughly
More importantly, you should be mentally prepared for the A Level examination. Enter the examination venue with the anticipation that there may be ‘abstract-sounding’ questions that are intended to throw students off. Again, some students who sat for the 2019 A Level H2 History examination have shared with us that certain essay questions were difficult to attempt due to their style of phrasing.

Enter the examination venue with the anticipation that there may be ‘abstract-sounding’ questions that are intended to throw students off.

Indeed, from our observations as well, some essay questions tested narrow areas that were seemingly challenging to address at first sight. Yet, if the standard thinking and answering steps were to be applied, such abstract questions can still be answered.

Therefore, one final tip for essay writing is to practise as many questions as you can. Do not simply refer to past year preliminary examination questions and attempt to do so right away. Instead, you should be aware of the possible areas of testing to cover the fundamental aspects. Then, you can intensify your efforts by answering complex questions. Find the right balance of questions to have adequate time spent on each theme. Besides, you can gather feedback from your teacher, tutor or classmate to check if there are other arguments to broaden your discussion.


Alternatively, you can join our JC History Tuition as we conduct regular essay writing skills development workshops to refine your thinking and writing techniques. During these lessons, you will receive concise study notes, practice questions and reference answers to enhance your study efforts. Also, you can consult our JC History Tutor to identify your areas of improvement, such as essay structure, perspective setting and evidence explanation.

Also, you can consider joining our JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.


On a separate note, this is the final article in the 52-week cycle of 2019. It has been an enriching and meaningful year as I have covered diverse topics relating to A Level History. At the start of 2019, I have made the decision to embark on this endeavour primarily to provide students with a useful educational platform to access learning resources conveniently. Although some would claim that the freer access to the Internet has made information gathering easier, I believe that this website will ease the search process and empower students to learn purposefully. In anticipation of the upcoming decade, I will continue to expand on this platform. Let’s look forward to another series of informative, insightful and interesting articles!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the Pedra Branca dispute - JC History Essay Notes

What is the Pedra Branca 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

Learn more about other border disputes to understand the causes and consequences of inter-state tensions in Southeast Asia.

Historical Background
Pedra Branca is an island situated in the easternmost point of Singapore, between the Singapore Strait and South China Sea. The island is known to many sailors for years, given its strategic location as a internationally-recognised shipping route.

Following the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, Pedra Branca was within the British-influenced territory of the Johor Sultanate. In the 1850s, the British established the Horsburgh Lighthouse (not the featured article image).

From 1826 to 1946, the Straits Settlements administered the Pedra Branca island. Subsequently, Singapore took over.

Origins of the Dispute
On 21 December 1979, the Director of National Mapping of Malaysia published a map that depicted the island to be within its territorial waters. The map was titled ‘Territorial Waters and Continental Shelf Boundaries of Malaysia‘, which illustrated the inclusion of Pedra Branca, the ‘Middle Rocks’ and ‘South Ledge’ in its territory.

In response, Singapore delivered a diplomatic note on 14 February, requesting the map to be corrected. From then on, the territorial dispute began.

The conflict began to escalate in the 1980s as the Malaysian Marine Police entered the waters surrounding Pedra Branca several times.

Nevertheless, both parties exercised restraint and avoided direct confrontation. As such, political leaders from both governments engaged in discussions to defuse tensions.

International Arbitration: The ICJ
In 2003, Singapore and Malaysia signed an official agreement to defer the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ carried out its proceedings in 2005 and the case was heard in November 2007.

From Singapore’s standpoint, it claimed sovereign rights over Pedra Branca based on the premise that it had managed the island over the years. For example, Singapore and its predecessors had investigated marine accidents in the vicinity, planned land reclamation works and installed naval communications equipment.

On the other hand, Malaysia undertook no action with respect to Pedra Branca from 1850 onwards. Furthermore, in 1953, the Acting Secretary of the State of Johor stated that they did not claim ownership of the island.

Conflict Resolution
In conclusion, the Court declared that the sovereignty of Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore, whereas the surrounding Middle Rocks and South Ledge were granted to Malaysia.

Initially, the Malaysian Government expressed its intent to reconsider the Court’s ruling over the island. In May 2018, Malaysia chose to drop the two cases of revising and interpreting the judgment by ICJ.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the consequences of the Pedra Branca dispute on the management of inter-state tensions between Singapore and Malaysia [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have covered the general overview relating to this territorial dispute, it is imperative that you attempt source-based case study questions (Paper 2 – Making of Independent Southeast Asia) to review your knowledge application and writing skills.

Alternatively, you can join our JC History Tuition as we provide you with summarised content for each case study, outline references and additional practice questions. By doing so, you will be prepared thoroughly for the complexities of the GCE A Level History examinations.

Also, do consider joining our related JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What were the consequences of the Vietnam War - JC History Essay Notes

What were the consequences of the Vietnam War?

Topic of Study [For H2 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: Vietnam War (1955-75)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): The Second Indochina War (1964-1975)

Contextual Analysis
In the previous article, we have examined the historical developments of the first and second Indochina Wars. Next, it is imperative to consider the political impacts of the Vietnam War on the superpowers – USA and Soviet Union.

1. Impacts on the USA: ‘Vietnam Syndrome’
Notably, the withdrawal of USA from Vietnam was largely influenced by anti-war sentiments. Many young Americans were against the drafting process. Also, the growing disillusionment and exposed war atrocities (especially the ‘My Lai massacre’) created the impetus for citizens to demand the immediate withdrawal.

Furthermore, critics questioned the necessity of US involvement in the politics of other countries even though many still supported the notion of ‘defending democracy’. As these doubts surfaced, some argued that US Presidents should not be given extensive powers to wage wars without Congress approval.

1.1. The War Powers Act
In November 1973, the War Powers Act (also known as the ‘War Powers Resolution’) was passed as a congressional resolution to curtail the US President’s ability to conduct foreign military campaigns. Its main purpose was to prevent US from being trapped in costly and protracted wars, like the conflict in Vietnam.

This Act required the president to seek congressional approval before American troops can be deployed overseas. For instance, the President has to inform the Congress within 48 hours.

Although President Nixon vetoed the law by claiming that it was ‘unconstitutional and dangerous’, the Congress overrode his action.

However, the congressional resolution proved futile as future US Presidents found ways and means to circumvent it. For example, President Ronald Reagan deployed troops in El Salvador in the 1981, during the renewed confrontation with the Soviets.

1.2. The Detente
As the world was on the brink of nuclear confrontation in the late 1960s due to the Sino-Soviet split, USA changed its diplomatic stance towards China. Additionally, in the early 1970s, the Nixon administration extended an ‘olive branch’ to Soviet Union in the form of diplomatic visits.

On 22 May 1972, Nixon visited his Cold War rival, Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow. It marked the first-ever visit by an American president to Soviet Union. The key takeaway from these visits was the increased mutual cooperation.

For example, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) Agreement was signed on 26 May 1972. The Agreement signified the mutual decisions of the superpowers to halt the build-up of strategic ballistic missile launchers. The SALT II Treaty was signed later in the 1970s that banned the development of new ballistic missiles for both countries.

Also, this phase of the Cold War led to the push for space exploration. In July 1975, both USA and USSR conducted a joint-space flight and encouraged collaboration.

However, the thawing of superpower relations halted when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Tensions resurfaced as USA boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

2. Impacts on the USSR: Race in the Third World
On the other hand, the Second Indochina War prompted the Soviet government to intensify its efforts to support the Communist regime. Ho Chi Minh’s victory in Indochina was hailed as a significant victory against the Americans.

As such, Soviet Union raised its military expenditures to support its Cold War allies. As stated earlier, its campaign in the Third World regions began with the invasion in Afghanistan. This conflict was a turning point as observers noted that Soviet Union invaded a country outside the Eastern Bloc, such that its actions drew international criticisms.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was carried out with the intention to reinforce the Brezhnev Doctrine, in which the government seems to secure its political influence in these socialist countries.

However, the campaign in Afghanistan proved disastrous for Soviet Union. The protracted conflict was perceived by some historians as “Soviet Union’s Vietnam War”, particularly due to the mounting economic costs.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political significance of the Second Indochina War on the USA [to be discussed in class].

Besides the topical review of this Cold War event, it is important that you attempt source-based case study questions or essay questions to determine whether you have fully understood these historical developments. Join our JC History Tuition and get additional support as we provide numerous practice questions and answer outlines. By doing so, we ensure that you can study productively and effectively to perform well for the GCE A Level History examinations.

Also, you can join our JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What does ZOPFAN stand for - JC History Essay Notes

What does ZOPFAN stand for?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security – relations between ASEAN and external powers)

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)

Background: How ZOPFAN was formed?
In the early 1970s, there were several notable events that took place. First, the Western powers (USA and UK) declared their position to reduce their military presence in Southeast Asia. The British announced its withdrawal of forces in 1971. Similarly, the departure of the US troops led to the fall of Saigon in 1975 during the Second Indochina War.

As such, the Communist powers (PRC and USSR) benefited from these developments. For instance, there was increased Chinese support for the communist forces in Vietnam. Besides, the signing of the Shanghai Communique between USA and PRC expanded the latter’s opportunities to assert its influence more extensively in the region.

Some member nations of ASEAN were alarmed by the growing communist threat. During the Non-Aligned Conference of 1970, Malaysia proposed a policy of ‘neutralisation’. This meant that ASEAN should reject external interference, particularly the Cold War bipolarity, in order to protect its regional security and sovereign rights.

Although there were differing interpretations of Malaysia’s suggestions, ASEAN eventually formalized it in the concept known as the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN).

The Mechanism: How did ZOPFAN work?
On 27 November 1971, the ZOPFAN was established during the Special ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ZOPFAN functioned as a political declaration to prevent external interference and encourage regional cooperation among ASEAN members.

DO HEREBY STATE:

1. That Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are determined to exert initially necessary efforts to secure the recognition of, and respect for, South East Asia as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality, free from any form or manner of interference by outside Powers;

2. That South East Asian countries should make concerted efforts to broaden the areas of cooperation which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship.

Declaration of Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN), 27 Nov 1971

Arguably, the ZOPFAN was a display of regional unity as member states could come to a consensus on their interactions with external powers. For instance, Indonesia advocated regional cooperation within ASEAN and disregarded external involvement. Contrastingly, Singapore sought external support for security and economic reasons due to its vulnerable position geographically.

Application: Putting ZOPFAN to the test?
Although ZOPFAN was created to declare ASEAN’s position on external interference, compliance by non-ASEAN parties was difficult. The Third Indochina War of 1978 was a clear example to support this observation. From Vietnam’s perspective, they perceived ZOPFAN as an extension of Western influence and refused to cooperate.

Following the defeat in 1975 during the Second Indochina War, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia alarmed member nations of ASEAN, especially Thailand. Political observers pointed out that this occupation may result in the expansion of communist influence beyond Indochina, possibly towards the rest of Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, some of the ASEAN members supported the internationalisation of the conflict, in which the United Nations was being requested to call for Vietnam’s withdrawal from Cambodia in 1979.

In conclusion, it is imperative to consider the international circumstances and political considerations of member nations in ASEAN to understand the strengths and limitations of ZOPFAN.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the effectiveness of ZOPFAN in explaining ASEAN’s responses to the Cold War bipolarity [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have considered the functions of ZOPFAN, you can apply your content in essay and source-based case study questions. Alternatively, you can sign up for JC History Tuition. Our classes are focused on content enrichment and the refinement of thinking and writing skills. In addition, you can join other JC tuition classes, like GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How was Singapore's Foreign Policy during the Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

How was Singapore’s Foreign Policy during the Cold War?

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]: 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II: Cold War in Asia [1945-1991] – Singapore’s Foreign Policy during the Cold War (1945-1991)

Learn more about Singapore’s Foreign Policy to understand how various challenges are addressed at the international level.

Foreign Policy and Singapore
By definition, ‘foreign policy’ is known as a government’s approach in dealing with other countries. Foreign policies are implemented by governments in response to various challenges at the bilateral or international level. In 2017, there was a controversial debate over how Singapore, as a small state, should conduct its foreign policy.

In this article, we will be examining how Singapore’s foreign policy was influenced by two major considerations: Survival and Realism

1. Perceived vulnerability: The concept of Survival
From the outset, when Singapore achieved independence in 1965, its political leaders held a firm belief that ‘survival’ was of paramount importance to the development of this new nation.

Given the lack of natural resources and its small geographical size, Singapore had to promote economic cooperation with other countries, including its neighbours, to advance its economy. The government capitalised on the strategic location of Singapore to facilitate international trade. Additionally, the heavy emphasis on state-guided industrialisation contributed to the entry of multi-national corporations (MNCs) that aided in job creation for the locals. Therefore, economic progress became one of the fundamental aims to ensure the survival of the Republic.

From the security viewpoint, there were external threats that endangered Singapore’s survival. As such, Singapore forged firm diplomatic ties with its neighbouring countries as well as Great Powers.

On 8 August 1967, Singapore was one of the founding members that signed the Bangkok Declaration, which formalised the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). With this regional organisation, inter-state cooperation was encouraged, thereby strengthening diplomatic ties between Singapore and other member nations. Given that there were inter-state tensions in the region, such as the Konfrontasi, that strained political ties, the ASEAN Way was a critical mechanism to alleviate tensions and maintain amicable relations.

More importantly, the Cold War had spread to Southeast Asia by the 1960s, as seen by the outbreak of the Second and Third Indochina Wars. In anticipation of these ideological challenges, Singapore established diplomatic ties with Great Powers, such as USA, to prevent communist expansion that might create political instability.

However, Singapore did not publicly declare its diplomatic position towards USA due to contrasting perceptions held by other ASEAN members relating to the reliance of Great Power support until the late 1980s.

2. The concept of Realism
The second principle that shaped Singapore’s foreign policy involved ‘Realism’, which explains that states are driven by their pursuit of national interests. The assumption is based on the notion that the international order is chaotic and conflicts are highly likely. In this case, survival is one of the many national interests pursued by Singapore.

In addition, the preservation of Singapore’s sovereignty was prioritised throughout the Cold War. One notable event was the Third Indochina War, in which the foreign occupation of Cambodia was perceived by Singapore as an outright violation of the international law. As such, its foreign policy led to the frequent lobbying at the United Nations to galvanise member nations into action, particularly the International Conference on Kampuchea (ICK) of July 1981.

What’s Next?
In the next article, we will analyse Singapore’s foreign policy responses to the Second and Third Indochina Wars to understand its effectiveness.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Singapore’s foreign policy during the Cold War was largely shaped by realism? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have covered the contributing factors that influenced the foreign policy of Singapore during the Cold War, it is imperative that you attempt H1 History essay questions to assess your knowledge application skills. On a separate but related note, you can consider registering for our JC History Tuition. You will receive organised summary notes, undergo enriching skills-based writing workshops and engage in thought-provoking topical discussions.

Besides, you can sign up for our JC tuition, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How were Sino-American Relations - JC History Essay Notes

How were Sino-American relations during the Cold War?

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]: 
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II: Cold War in Asia [1945-1991] – Superpower relations with China (1950-1979): Sino-Soviet relations

Examine how Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing, China have changed the Sino-American relations in the 1970s.

Superpower Relations with China in the 1950s and 1960s
Following the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) victory during the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established. In view of the Cold War climate, the perceived ideological threat in East Asia, USA did not recognise this historical development.

At the same time, the Republic of China (i.e. ROC or Taiwan) was formed, which became a focal point of dispute between the United States and PRC. For instance, ROC was granted one of the Permanent Five (P5) seats in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Notably, the Soviet Union, an ally of PRC, boycotted the UNSC meeting during the Korean War, as a form of protest against this matter.

The absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries was arguably of no surprise to political observers.

Taiwan Straits Crises
In the 1950s, US foreign policy was focused on Taiwan as a pivot for containment in Asia. The Seventh Fleet was situated in the vicinity to protect the security interests of Taiwan from potential threats.

On 11 August 1954, PRC launched an offensive against Kinmen and Matsu. In response, the Eisenhower administration perceived this as an act of military aggression, possibly occupation. As such, the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in December 1954, which assured ROC that the US would provide military support should the former come under attack. This Treaty later shaped US policy of containment in East Asia till 1979.

In August 1957, the “Second Taiwan Straits Crisis” occurred, in which Kinmen and Matsu were shelled and a naval confrontation took place between ROC and PRC. Eventually, the heightened tensions had de-escalated and the Chinese bombardment ceased by October 1958.

Sino-American Rapprochement in the 1970s
In view of the Sino-Soviet Split that culminated in the Sino-Soviet Border Conflict in 1969, the US began to assume a different diplomatic stance towards PRC, albeit a friendly one.

Given that the US still perceived the Soviet Union as its greatest threat, the notion of establishing diplomatic relations with PRC as a strategic advantage to gain a leverage over its Cold War rival.

“Ping Pong Diplomacy” and the historic meet between Nixon and Zhou Enlai
On 10 April 1971, the American table tennis team was invited to Beijing, China. The friendly sporting event was considered unprecedented, given the strained bilateral relations ever since the PRC’s involvement in the Korean War of 1950.

In July 1971, the Nixon administration’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, made a secret visit to Beijing. Pakistan, an ally of China, facilitated the meeting.

On 21 February 1972, US President Nixon met Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing. Nixon also met Premier Zhou Enlai. More importantly, the visit concluded with the signing of the Shanghai Communiqué on 28 Feburary 1972.

The document signified the mutual interests of both USA and China in the normalization of bilateral relations. As such, USA agreed to recognise the “One-China policy” and reduced military support for Taiwan. Also, China occupied Taiwan’s position as one of the P5 members in the UNSC.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– To what extent do you agree that the Cold War rivalry was a major reason in shaping the Sino-American relations from 1950 to 1979? [to be discussed in class]

Following the assessment of the changing bilateral relations between USA and China, it is important to attempt History essay questions to review your conceptual application. Alternatively, you can join our JC History Tuition as we teach you to organise your content, develop your critical thinking skills and form persuasive and coherent arguments. Lessons are conducted with the aim of preparing you to answer essay and source-based case study questions effectively and feasibly within a given timeframe.

Besides, you can join our JC tuition, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - Why did the Soviet Union collapse - JC History Essay Notes

Why did the Soviet Union collapse?

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 3: End of Bipolarity

Examine the possible causes that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union: Inevitable or not? 
From a retrospective view, not all agree that the collapse of the Soviet Union was expected. In fact, there were forecasts that the Soviet Union might surpass the United States in terms of economic development.

Nevertheless, the Cold War rivalry have undoubtedly impacted the social, economic and political developments of the USSR. In this article, we will cover the consequences of domestic reforms and the rise of nationalism.

Internal Reform #1: Perestroika 
Following the ascent of Mikhail Gorbachev, the newly-elected Soviet leader introduced two notable concepts that outlined his domestic reforms: perestroika and glasnost.

Faced with an ailing Soviet economy, Perestroika (which means ‘restructuring’) involved economic restructuring through the reduction of central planning and greater private participation.

For instance, the Law on State Enterprise was passed in June 1987. In this case, state enterprises could set their own output levels based on consumer demand. With their newfound autonomy, these enterprises had to be self-reliant as state financing was absent.

Additionally, the Soviet Joint Venture Law was passed, which allowed foreign investment to flow into the Soviet Union. The government allowed majority foreign ownership.

However, the economic restructuring was ineffective. Contrary to Gorbachev’s expectations, the reforms accelerated the economic collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1991, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell by 17% and inflation rate was at nearly 700%.

The failure of Perestroika was largely traced to the incompatibility of capitalism with communism. For example, the government still maintained a monopoly over the means of production, thereby denying the enterprises of the ability to compete feasibly. Besides, foreign investment was hardly present due to the high degree of resistance from local officials, who feared the loss of political control.

Internal Reform #2: Glasnost
The Glasnost policy (which referred to ‘openness’) was introduced to empower the Russian society by enabling freer flow of information and public involvement in the decision-making processes. By doing so, Gorbachev hoped to restore public trust in the Soviet government, including the desired support for his Perestroika.

For instance, the Soviet government lifted its censorship policies and allowed open political debate. Also, freedom of religion was permitted, which contributed to the restoration of mosques and churches.

Again, the reform proved disastrous for the Gorbachev administration. The policy of “openness” exposed the failures of past leaders, thus causing the erosion of public trust. Critics became more outspoken as they pointed out social and economic problems, like food shortages and housing issues.

More importantly, the availability of political debates influenced the public desire for democratization, which resulted in the mass-based political participation in the Soviet Republics.

Nationalism: A rising tide; A dangerous precipice
In addition to the nationalist movements that took place in the Eastern Europe, there were also political uprisings that broke out within the USSR itself.

From 1988 to 1990, several Soviet Republics declared independence from the Soviet Union. For example, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia declared their intent to break away from USSR even though the Soviet government rejected it.

Due to Gorbachev’s refusal to use military force against the nationalists, cracks within the political leadership were gradually exposed.

The August Coup
Gorbachev proposed the ‘New Union Treaty’ in 1991 to maintain a semblance of central authority while granting the republics their desired sovereign rights. However, nearly half of the republics rejected the proposal.

High-ranking officials within the Soviet government launched a coup against Gorbachev in August 1991. This event became a turning point as Russian President Boris Yeltsin garnered support to end the coup. Eventually, the coup ended and Gorbachev resigned.

On 26 December 1991, following the Belavezha Accords, the dissolution of the USSR began. The declaration recognised the official independence of the former Soviet Republics and the subsequent creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In other words, the collapse of the USSR signalled the end of the Cold War.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that domestic reforms were the main reason for the dissolution of the USSR? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have considered the contributing factors that explained the collapse of the USSR, it is imperative that you attempt source-based case study questions relating to this topic, also known as the End of Bipolarity. Additionally, you can join our JC History Tuition. We impart you with the thinking and writing skills to improve your quality of answers, such as information extraction, reliability and utility assessment.

Also, you can join other JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.