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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What the Singapore-Malaysia Water Dispute is about - JC History Essay Notes

What the Singapore-Malaysia Water Dispute is about

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: historical animosities & political differences

Dr Mahathir’s take on the water pricing issue that affected Singapore-Malaysia relations.

Historical Context: The ‘Water Agreements’
Singapore and Malaysia signed a total of four agreements to manage the water supply from the Causeway. It began with that first agreement that was signed on 5 December 1927, which allowed Singapore to rent land in Johor and import raw water from Gunong Pulai. Singapore paid an annual rent of 30 sen per acre. In return, Johor could obtain 800,000 gallons of treated water daily at a rate of 25 sen per 1,000 gallons.

The second agreement [known as the Tebrau and Scudai Rivers Water Agreement] was signed on 2 October 1961 in replacement of the previous agreement. Singapore was granted the rights to draw water from Gunong Pulai, Sungei Tebrau and Sungei Scudai for 50 years until 2011. Also, the self-governing state had to pay an annual rent of RM5 per acre and 3 sen for every 1,000 gallons of raw water it drew. In return, Singapore sells treated water back to Johor at 50 sen per 1,000 gallons.

The third agreement [known as the Johor River Water Agreement] was signed on 29 September 1962. This agreement was valid for 99 years until 2061. Based on this agreement, Singapore was entitled to draw 250 million gallons of water per day. Both parties agreed to maintain the water price, which is 3 sen per 1,000 gallons of raw water.

After a six-year long process of tedious negotiations, the prime ministers of the two neighbouring countries, Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir Mohamad, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 28 June 1988. It led to the signing of the fourth agreement.

The fourth agreement was signed on 24 November 1990. It was meant to supplement the 1962 Agreement. Singapore was allowed to build a dam across Sungei Linggiu for the extraction of water from the Johor River. Singapore then borne the building and maintenance costs of the dam. In return, Singapore buy treated water from Johor via the newly-built dam.

Start of the Dispute: Post-Asian Financial Crisis
As the economies of Southeast Asia were increasingly affected by the currency crisis in 1997-1998, Singapore offered to provide a financial assistance package to Malaysia as a crisis response measure. Singapore proposed that in return for the package, Malaysia can continue to provide its water supply to Singapore even after the expiry of the water agreements.

However, the Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir rejected the package. Instead, both parties discussed further to develop a more comprehensive package. In addition to the water supply issue after 2061, the package also considered other bilateral matters such as the Points of Agreement.

Considerations: Revisions in the price of raw water
On 4 March 2002, the pricing of raw water was to be revised to 60 sen per 1,000 gallons for the next five years (2002-2007). In the subsequent five years (2007-2011), it would then be revised to RM3 per 1,000 gallons. This was based on a letter that Dr Mahathir wrote to Mr Lee in February:

Johore is agreeable to revisions in the price of raw water that it now supplies to Singapore and the treated water that it buys from Singapore…

Johore believes that a fair price would be 60 cents per mgd of raw water. The price should be reviewed every five years.

Letter from Dr Mahathir to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, 21 February 2001.

Furthermore, Malaysia proposed that the new water agreement would only be valid for 100 years from 2002. This meant that the new agreement would expire four decades after the end of the 1962 Agreement.

On 11 April 2002, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong replied Dr Mahathir and announced that Singapore will be self-reliant in the production of water as much as possible while keeping the current Water Agreements intact.

I do not want our bilateral relations to be always strained by the issue of water…Singapore will produce as much water by ourselves as we can, to supplement the existing Water Agreements.

Letter from Mr Goh Chok Tong to Dr Mahathir, 11 April 2002.

Achieving self-sufficiency: NEWater
Given the ever-growing demand for water, the Singapore Government concluded that it cannot solely depend on Malaysia’s water supply. In 1998, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) initiated a study to find out if NEWater was a viable alternative to the existing source of raw water. In 2003, the PUB launched the NEWater to public.Through the use of an advanced process (microfiltration and reverse osmosis), the PUB could treat reclaimed water effectively for human consumption and industrial use.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that economic issues were the main obstacle to Singapore-Malaysia relations after independence [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition and apply your content knowledge to source-based case study questions. We conduct thematic review and question practice sessions to improve your writing skills for H2 and H1 History. Besides, we hold other relevant 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 the Malaysian Railway Land dispute is about - JC History Essay Notes

What the Malaysian Railway Land dispute is about

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: historical animosities & political differences

The last train departed from the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, marking the end of its 79-years operation.

Historical Context: The Malayan Railway
Under the Railway Act of 1918, the British acquired 217 hectares of Singapore territory to develop the Malayan Railway for a period of 999 years. It was initially known as the Federated Malay States Railways (FSMR), which later became Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM). The acquired land was to be used to establish the railway stations situated in Tanjong Pagar, Bukit Timah and Woodlands.

Points of Agreement
On 27 November 1990, a bilateral arrangement was made between Singapore and Malaysia to shift away from the Railway Act of 1918 and repeal the KTM Act of 1984. The Points of Agreement (POA) was signed by then Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew and then Finance Minister of Malaysia Tun Daim Zainuddin. The POA was made to undergo a joint development of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station as well as the lands adjacent to the KTM-owned railway track.

Additionally, the Tanjong Pagar railway station would be relocated either to Bukit Timah or directly to Kranji. The plan was to allow Singapore to reclaim Tanjong Pagar for future development. In exchange, Singapore offered a plot of land of equivalent value in the Marina South to the Malaysian company.

Origins of the Dispute: A deadlock
However, in 1993, disagreements emerged as Malaysia was unwilling to relinquish ownership of the Tanjong Pagar land. Instead, proposals were made to re-develop the existing KTM railway into a “Trans-Asian electric railway” that extended from Singapore to Kunming, China. Also, reluctance was expressed due to fears over the perceived loss of KTM’s land in Singapore.

In September 1993, both countries agreed to relocate their Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities from Tanjong Pagar to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP) in Singapore by 1 August 1998. Yet, in June 1997, the Malaysian authorities “changed its mind” and chose to keep its CIQ at the Tanjong Pagar railway station. As such, both parties sent officials to discuss new arrangements in two occasions in July 1998 for the arrangements pertaining to the Malaysian CIQ.

The Woodlands Train Checkpoint
As a result of the meetings, both sides agreed to re-locate the CIQ to Woodlands Train Checkpoint on 1 August 1998. The Ministry of Home Affairs (Singapore) published a press release on 24 July 1998 to announce the changes.

Singapore will allow Malaysian customs officials to operate at Tanjong Pagar railway station. Singapore officials will be present at Tanjong Pagar railway station to lend their authority to Malaysian customs officials during the interim period.

Singapore has agreed to Malaysia’s request to allow Malaysian Immigration to put some desks for its immigration officers on the passenger platform at WTCP to clear passengers after Singapore has cleared them for exit from Singapore.

Press Release by Ministry of Home Affairs (Singapore), 24 July 1998.

Improvement of Bilateral Relations: The 2001 meeting
In September 2001, leaders of both Malaysia and Singapore held a closed-door meeting to resolve the railway land dispute. Prime Minister Lee reiterated to his Malaysian counterpart, Dr Mahathir, that the POA was a “legally binding agreement” and stated that Singapore offered a plot of land at Shenton Way in exchange for joint development. In this letter, the water dispute was also being mentioned.

3. On the POA, I would like to confirm that what I said was that “the POA is being varied to give the extra 12 plots of land at Bukit Timah and the CIQ, too”…The 1990 POA is a legally binding agreement…

4. According to Clause 7 of the POA, the MRA land at Keppel where the rail station is currently sited will be exchanged for a plot in Marina South of equivalent value for joint development by M-S Pte Ltd. It is in accordance with an option given in Plan 2 of the POA, as stated in my letter of 24 August 2000 to Tun Daim, that I had offered a plot at Shenton Way for this exchange, for joint development.

Letter by Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew to Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir, 10 December 2001.

Recent developments: 2010 arrangements
Although there was an impasse of nearly 2 decades, a landmark land swap deal was finally made between the two countries in 2010. Three plots of former railway land – Keppel, Kranji and Woodlands – as well as three plots in Bukit Timah would be exchanged for four parcels of land in Marina South and two parcels of land in Ophir-Rochor.

A new company, known as M+S, was set up for the joint development of Marina South and Ophir-Rochor parcels. However, there were disputes over the Bukit Timah plots as they were not stated in the POA. Both parties referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

The Singapore Government shall vest four land parcels in Marina South and two land parcels in Ophir-Rochor in M-S Pte Ltd, in lieu of the three parcels of POA land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji and Woodlands and three pieces of land in Bukit Timah.

The Marina South and Ophir-Rochor land parcels shall be vested in M-S Pte Ltd for joint development when Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) vacates the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station (TPRS). The KTMB station will be relocated from Tanjong Pagar to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (“WTCP”) by 1 July 2011 whereby Malaysia would co-locate its railway Custom, Immigration and Quarantine (“CIQ”) facilities at WTCP.

Joint statement for meeting between PM Lee and PM Najib, implementations on the POA, 20 September 2010.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that historical animosities were the main reason for the changing Singapore-Malaysia relations after independence [to be discussed in class]?

Other useful references:
Why Singapore rejected a common currency with Malaysia?

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to organise your study for this topic on Regional Conflicts and Co-operation, as part of your source-based case study revision. We conduct class discussions to broaden your understanding of these issues and apply them to practice questions for knowledge review. Also, you can consider 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 find out more.

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 - What is the Second Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

What is the Second Cold 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 3: End of Bipolarity

Find out more about the renewed tensions between USA and USSR due to clashing foreign policies such as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

Context: How it all began
Before the Second Cold War, there was a momentary period of much-desired peace in the 1970s. Also known as the Détente, both the American and Soviet governments held talks to limit the arms race. However, the myth was shattered when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Additionally, the entry of the incoming American President Ronald Reagan had set the stage for the renewed tensions and superpower confrontation in the early 1980s.

1. Renewed Confrontation: The “Afghanistan problem”
Following the 1978 Saur Revolution, in which a Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan launched a coup against the Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan, there was growing dissent in the nation. USSR justified its intervention by invoking the Brezhnev Doctrine, which was meant to preserve the Soviet bloc through military responses.

Subsequently, the Carter administration perceived the increased Soviet presence in the Gulf as an “arc of crisis”, thus declaring their intent to counter the Soviet invasion via proxies. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aided the Mujahideen rebels who fought against the Soviet troops and the Afghan army.

Furthermore, the Afghan invasion swayed the perceptions of the Americans and its politicians, such that the potential Presidential candidates in America were more supportive of renewing Cold War antagonisms towards the Soviets.

2. Reagan’s Cold War Rhetoric: The Strategic Defense Initiative
Reagan’s anti-communist stance had paid off, as evidenced by his remarkable victory in the US Presidential elections in November 1980. The former Hollywood actor assumed a more hostile stance towards the Soviets. In March 1983, his “Evil Empire” speech showed his resolve in denouncing and defeating the Cold War rival.

The truth is that a freeze now would be a very dangerous fraud, for that is merely the illusion of peace. The reality is that we must find peace through strength…

So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil….

Speech by the US President Ronald Reagan, Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida; 8 March 1983.

In this speech, Reagan tried to dissuade the American public from supporting the anti-nuclear demonstrations (“freeze”) as the military build-up was an effective form of deterrence to prevent Soviet aggression. Also, Reagan justified the continuation of the arms race as the only viable option to manage this “evil empire” and save the world from potential catastrophe.

A few days later, Reagan proved his point by announcing the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which was an ambitious project to protect the United States from Soviet nuclear attacks.

The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor. We maintain our strength in order to deter and defend against aggression — to preserve freedom and peace

It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome Soviet missile threat with measures that are defensive. Let us turn to the very strengths in technology that spawned our great industrial base and that have given us the quality of life we enjoy today…

What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

Address by US President Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation on Defense and National Security; 23 March 1983.

In his public address to the Americans, Reagan introduced the SDI and declared its creation as a defensive measure against potential Soviet attacks. By doing so, peace can be assured.

Yet, the SDI alarmed Moscow as the renewed arms race clearly violated the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABTM) that was signed in 1972 by former leaders of the two superpowers. In fact, Soviet leader Yuri Andropov announced that the Soviets took the matter seriously and vowed to respond accordingly given that the SDI would render Soviet missiles obsolete.

Changing landscapes: For the better?
Fortunately, the “Second Cold War” did not persist due to a series of events. First, the rise of Soviet leader Gorbachev marked a significant change. His “New Political Thinking” was a pivotal factor in influencing the withdrawal of Soviet forces from the Third World as well as Afghanistan, which ended the Cold War divide in Europe. Second, Reagan’s second term was characterised as being more accommodating. Therefore, tensions simmered when both leaders agreed to hold talks, as seen by the summits held in Geneva (1985), Reykjavik (1986), Washington (1987) and Malta (1989).


What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the political leaders were most responsible for the Second Cold War? [to be discussed in class]

After you have covered the topic on the Second Cold War, it is important that you attempt source-based case study practices to review your understanding. Join our JC History Tuition and we will guide you through the entire study process. Besides, students who join our programme will receive summary and timeline notes as well as outlines to derive a clear understanding of the Cold War.

You can also sign up for 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 find out more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War - What was Détente - JC History Essay Notes

What was Détente?

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 how the superpowers adjusted their foreign policies and eased bilateral tensions in the 1970s.

The Détente
Détente refers to the easing of strained relations between USA and the Soviet Union. Following the disastrous October Crisis of 1962, US President Richard Nixon assumed a more diplomatic stance to avert a potential nuclear catastrophe. The Nixon administration offered to promote greater dialogue with the Soviet government.

1. Moscow Summit of 1972
Following the unexpected trip to Beijing in February, President Nixon met the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow in May 1972. The Summit led to several milestone achievements.

First, both parties agreed to cooperate on the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, which signaled the end of the “Space Race”. Additionally, the two leaders signed two nuclear arms control agreements: The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT).

The SALT I treaty was significant as it froze the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers to halt further arms build-up. On the other hand, the ABMT limited each of the two parties to 100 anti-ballistic missiles.

2. Washington Summit of 1973
A year later, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union Alexei Kosygin made a trip to Washington for another summit in June 1973. Similar to the previous meeting, it was hailed as a turning point in superpower relations, given that both parties agreed to sign the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War.

In essence, this agreement signified both superpowers’ willingness to exercise restraint and prevent the threat of a nuclear war.

Guided by the objectives of strengthening world peace and international security, Conscious that nuclear war would have devastating consequences for mankind,

Proceeding from the desire to bring about conditions in which the danger of an outbreak of nuclear war anywhere in the world would be reduced and ultimately eliminated, Proceeding from their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations regarding the maintenance of peace, refraining from the threat or use of force, and the avoidance of war, and in conformity with the agreements to which either Party has subscribed,

Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, 22 June 1973

3. Vladivostok Summit of 1974
The third meeting was known as the Vladivostok Summit, which took place in November 1974. The summit was conducted as an extension of arms control provisions between the superpowers. The American President Gerald Ford traveled to Vladivostok to sign the agreement, which restricted the number of inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

4. Helsinki Accords (1975)
Lastly, the Helsinki Accords were introduced during the Conference on Security and Co-Operation in Europe in July 1975. Also, known as the Helsinki Final Act, it was a diplomatic agreement that revealed mutual efforts to ease tensions between the Soviet and Western blocs.

Soviet Union was in favour of the Accords as it sought recognition of its post-war hegemony in eastern Europe. For example, the Soviet government insisted on the rightful existence of East Germany as well as Poland’s western border. Through this, USSR would then be recognised as a Great Power.

In return, USA requested USSR to recognise the respect for human rights, freedom of information across borders and the expansion of contacts between the eastern and western parts of Europe.

Was Détente sustainable?
Although the above-mentioned agreements made it appear as if the superpower tensions were no longer present, tensions resurfaced in the late 1970s. Following the signing of the SALT II treaty in 1979, Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.

This unexpected move resulted in open and harsh criticisms by the West. In response, US President Jimmy Carter requested the increase in the defense budget and financed the anti-Soviet Mujahideen fighters to counter the Soviet occupation.

Eventually, the electoral victory of the Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan accelerated the end of the Détente, ushering the age known as the “Second Cold War”.


What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the end of the Détente was inevitable? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have covered the major events that shaped the superpower relations in the 1970s, you should attempt some source-based case study questions to apply what you have learnt. Why not join our JC History Tuition as we provide you with bite-sized and exam-friendly study notes, additional essay and SBCS practice questions as well as outline references.

You can also join other JC tuition classes, 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 - 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.

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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.

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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 happened druing the Second Indochina War - JC History Essay Notes

What started the Second Indochina 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)

Historical Context: Battles in Indochina
Before we examine the Second Indochina War, which is commonly known as the ‘Vietnam War’, it is imperative to understand the historical developments in the Indochinese region.

Ever since 1887, Vietnam was under French colonial occupation until World War Two. Following the end of the Japanese Occupation, the French returned to Vietnam.

1a. First Indochina War (1945-1954)
In contrast to the pre-WWII phase, Vietnam engaged in a serious of fierce military confrontation with the French. This conflict was known as the ‘First Indochina War’. Eventually, after the historic ‘battle of Điện Biên Phủ‘, the French was defeated. At the same time, the Geneva Accords were signed during the Geneva Peace Conference, which signified the withdrawal of the French from the Indochinese region.

During the First Indochina War, the French formed a local government led by Bảo Đại, who was a self-exiled former emperor. In early 1954, Bảo Đại was replaced by Ngo Dinh Diem as the prime minister.

1b. The Great Divide: 17th parallel
The provisions of the Accords included the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel. The northern part was known as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) led by Ho Chi Minh. The southern region below the 17th parallel is called the Republic of Vietnam (RoV) under Emperor Bảo Đại.

Although the partition was carried out with the aim of facilitating a ceasefire after the 1954 conflicts, tensions mounted and manifested in the form of actual fighting again. Furthermore, the South was unwilling to participate in the 1956 elections.

More importantly, the North and South were largely influenced by Cold War rivals, which later shaped the developments of the next major conflict.

2a. Second Indochina War (1954-1974)
In South Vietnam, Diem deposed Bảo Đại and became the next president. Notably, Diem was a viable anti-communist leader that aligned with the Cold War interests of USA.

Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Administration intensified its efforts in supporting the Diem regime to stem communist expansion in Indochina. One clear evidence is the increased presence of American military advisers deployed in the South.

In the North, Ho Chi Minh’s DRV expanded its military might with the help of external powers, such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Ho rallied the peasants to support his nationalistic cause.

2b. A Test of Loyalty: Sino-Soviet split
Ever since the controversial ‘Secret Speech‘ by Soviet leader Khrushchev in April 1956, USSR was at odds with PRC due to ideological differences and personality clashes.

As such, both Communist powers competed to gain the trust of North Vietnam through the provision of military and economic support. From 1964 to 1969, the PRC aided the North with the condition that their recipient reject support from Soviet Union.

From 1967 onwards, Soviet Union increased their support for the North. Similar to Kennedy’s approach, Soviet advisors entered the fray and aided the North. Also, military support was granted to improve their chances of victory. Notably, more than 75% of North Vietnam’s military capabilities originated from USSR, such as tanks and anti-aircraft guns.

2c. The ‘Americanisation’ of the Vietnam War
After the Tonkin Gulf incident in August 1964, the Lyndon Administration embarked on a large-scale military campaign in Vietnam under the auspices of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

Subsequently, numerous American men were drafted to expand the size of the US military forces. The drafting process was challenging as some of the students aged 18 to 25 in the USA protested openly.

Furthermore, the US government launched ‘Operation Rolling Thunder‘ in March 1965, which involved a prolonged period of aerial bombing. Its purpose was to display American air superiority and demoralise the North forces.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Second Indochina War broke out due to ideological differences? [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have covered the key events and players that explained the Second Indochina War, you should apply your knowledge to essay practice questions. Alternatively, you can sign up for our JC History Tuition. You will receive concise study notes and engage in enriching thematic discussions to be more ready for the GCE A Level History examinations.

Besides, you can join our 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 - What happened druing the first ASEAN summit - JC History Essay Notes

What happened during the first ASEAN summit?

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)

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)

Historical Context: What is the Bali Summit?
Now that we have examined the functions of ZOPFAN that sought to counter the rising Communist influence in Southeast Asia, it is imperative to consider the subsequent developments. ASEAN members stepped up efforts to intensify their extent of regional cooperation in the mid-1970s.

After the untimely departure of the USA from Indochina, ASEAN members were increasingly concerned with the ideological dangers that may threaten regional security.

On 24 February 1976, ASEAN held its first-ever Summit in Bali, Indonesia. The heads of states attended this historic event to develop countermeasures against the Communist threats. Notably, the meeting led to the signing of two key agreements: the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) and the ASEAN Concord.

Agreement #1: Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC)
Leaders of the founding five members of ASEAN signed the TAC during the Bali Summit. In general, the TAC was a political agreement to encourage peaceful cooperation among members and the mutual respect for sovereignty of states.

The purpose of this Treaty is to promote perpetual peace, everlasting amity and cooperation among their peoples which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship,

In their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties shall be guided by the following fundamental principles :

a. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations;

b. The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;

c. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;

d. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means;

e. Renunciation of the threat or use of force;

f. Effective cooperation among themselves.

Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), 24 February 1976.

Additionally, ASEAN encouraged non-members to adhere to the TAC principles in order to preserve regional peace and security. The agreement can be acknowledged as a bold attempt for the regional organisation to preserve security through non-violent means in spite of past and on-going inter-state tensions.

Agreement #2: ASEAN Concord
The second agreement is known as the ‘ASEAN Concord’ that can be interpreted as a unified response to stem the spread of Indochinese Communism. The ASEAN Concord focuses mainly on economic cooperation and peaceful conflict resolution.

The elimination of poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy is a primary concern of member states. They shall therefore intensify cooperation in economic and social development, with particular emphasis on the promotion of social justice and on the improvement of the living standards of their peoples.

Member states, in the spirit of ASEAN solidarity, shall rely exclusively on peaceful processes in the settlement of intra-regional differences.

The Declaration of ASEAN Concord, 24 February 1976.

Although Communism posed a clear security threat to ASEAN members, there was common consensus on adopting a non-military stance to overcome this challenge. Therefore, threats to security were usually managed through the support of countries or groupings outside ASEAN.

The ASEAN Concord proved to be a significant achievement for ASEAN as members were more willing to work together and manage the communist threats from within.

Conclusion: Is it adequate?
Ever since these two agreements signed during the first ASEAN Summit, members of the regional organization has continued to reaffirm their desire for greater cooperation, as seen by the increased frequency of intra-ASEAN and external organizational interactions (e.g. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, United Nations). ASEAN’s solidarity was later put to the test during the Third Indochina War in 1978.



What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Bali Summit of 1976 was a turning point for ASEAN’s efforts in managing the Cold War threats in Southeast Asia? [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to organise your knowledge for ASEAN and other related topics. In fact, we provide concise study materials, practice questions and reference answers to derive an exam-oriented programme for you.

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 provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to know more about these classes!