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JC History Tuition - ASEAN Economic Cooperation during the Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

ASEAN Economic Cooperation during the Cold War

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)

ASEAN Economic Cooperation after 1976
Following the historic Bali Summit in February 1976, ASEAN members signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) as well as the ASEAN Concord. By doing so, member states expressed their common desire to promote economic cooperation against the backdrop of the growing threat of Communism in Southeast Asia.

However, it is imperative to observe that regional economic integration was not on the top of the priority list for many member nations.

Prior to the late 1980s, consideration of deep regional economic integration remained taboo and the focus was on economic cooperation…

ASEAN’s preference for regional economic cooperation rather than deep regional economic cooperation rather than deep integration in the 1970s and 1980s reflects the reluctance of some ASEAN countries to undertake trade and investment liberalisation owing to the pursuit of industrial policies of import substitution and picking winners.

An excerpt from “ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Integration” by Siow Yue Chia, Michael G. Plummer

According to the authors, “deep economic cooperation” refers to the removal of artificial barriers to promote international trade. In contrast, “economic integration” implies the aim of forming a Free Trade Agreement, economic community or customs union.

Diverging perceptions towards regional economic integration
Although the ASEAN Concord signified the member states’ desire to engage in regional economic cooperation through the setup of large-scale industrial projects within Southeast Asia, some had reservations over economic integration.

According to Widjojo Nitisastro, Indonesia had resisted all notions of trade liberalization and regional economic integration. Indonesia, he said, was more concerned with food, as well as energy, security and with the establishment of large-scale industrial projects.

An excerpt from “Southeast Asian in Search of an ASEAN Community: Insights from the former ASEAN Secretary-General” by Rodolfo C. Severino

Under Suharto’s leadership, Indonesian economist Widjojo Nitisastro took the lead in shaping the ‘New Order’ government’s economic policies. Notably, Nitisastro was part of the ‘Berkeley Mafia’ group that operated as technocrats to guide economic development in Indonesia.

Such views were expressed during the inaugural ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEMM) that was held in March 1976. Some membere states expressed concerns over access to essential resources and food like crude oil and rice respectively.

Preferential Trading Arrangement (PTA)
The PTA was introduced in July 1977, in which member nations would allow imports from other members a “margin of preference on Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariffs”.

After a decade of ongoing negotiations, the economic ministers agreed that the PTA would be applied to at least 90% of the items traded within ASEAN with at least 50% of the value of intra-ASEAN trade.

Unfortunately, intra-ASEAN trade remained low. During the 1991 meeting, economic ministers, it was reported that the value of intra-ASEAN trade in items covered by the PTA barely increased from US$121 million in 1987 to US$578 million in 1989.

The following document produced by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) reveals the underlying problems that explained the limited success of the PTA:

The existing low level of intra-ASEAN trade has always been the rallying point for the “regionalists”, who strongly advocate a rapid growth of intraregional trade in order to diversify the region’s market base and to reduce its over-dependence on the industrialized countries.

However, intra-ASEAN trade since 1976 has simply failed to take off in real terms and remained stagnant at around the 15 per cent…

At the same time, the stagnancy of intra-ASEAN trade also reflects the tremendous structural problems and institutional biases operating against intraregional trade.

An exceprt taken from the UNIDO report titled “Regional Industrial Co-operation: Experiences and Perspective of ASEAN and the Andean Pact“, 1983.

The ASEAN Industrial Projects (AIP)
In March 1980, the AIP was formalised to encourage member states of ASEAN to engage in economic cooperation. According to the Basic Agreement on ASEAN Industrial Projects, the host country was required to invest 60% of the equity, while the other four member nations would occupy the remaining 40%.

However, ASEAN encountered stumbling blocks against due to the perceptions of intra-ASEAN competition as possible conflicts to their national interests.

Among the approved ASEAN Industrial Projects, only the urea fertilizer plants in Aceh in northern Sumatra and Bintulu in central Sarawak have survived as such. No ASEAN country was willing to see curbs on its option to put up industries similar to those allocated to another ASEAN country.

… The ASEAN countries’ lack of enthusiasm for AIP’s other than their own was indicated by the fact that Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines, as well as Singapore, were willing to commit only one per cent each of the Thai potash project’s equity…

An excerpt from “Southeast Asian in Search of an ASEAN Community: Insights from the former ASEAN Secretary-General” by Rodolfo C. Severino

The ASEAN Way: Conflict versus Consensus-building
Nevertheless, there were member nations within ASEAN that advocated regional economic cooperation, even though the slow progress in the 1980s left much to be desired.

Given Singapore’s inherent challenges of lacking a sizable market, the government was a strong supporter of ASEAN economic integration.

We have spoken in one voice against protectionist policies. For our admonitions to be effective, however, we must practise what we preach. In our policies to promote intra-ASEAN trade, we must not put barriers to trade between ASEAN and the industrial countries. We cannot expect others to keep their markets open to ASEAN products if we close our markets to theirs.

… One cardinal principle ASEAN has practised is to agree by consensus. Consensus ensures that the national interest of any member will not be compromised. I suggest the time has come for greater latitude in defining ‘consensus’ so as to widen the areas of cooperation. When four agree and one does not object, this can still be considered as consensus; and the four should proceed with a new regional scheme. An ASEAN five-minus-one scheme can benefit the participating four without damaging the abstaining one. Indeed, the abstaining one may well be encouraged to join in later by the success of the scheme.

An excerpt from a speech by then Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew during the Ninth Meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers, 21 April 1980.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that ASEAN was effective in promoting regional economic co-operation from 1976 to 1991?

Join our JC History Tuition and consolidate your knowledge for topics like Regional Conflicts and Cooperation. We cover H1 and H2 History syllabus through online class discussions. By joining our online learning programme, you will receive study notes and feedback from our JC History Tutors to raise the proficiency of writing to ace the GCE A Level examinations.

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JC History Tuition - When was Singapore's bilingual policy implemented - JC History Essay National Unity Notes

When was Singapore’s bilingual policy implemented?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Search for Political Stability
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme I Chapter 2: Approaches to National Unity

Historical context
Before independence was achieved in Singapore, its education system comprised of private vernacular schools and government-run schools. The former taught Chinese, Malay and Tamil, while the latter covered English.

On 8 December 1953, the British colonial government published a white paper (titled “Chinese Schools Bilingual Education and Increased Aid”) that proposed bilingual education in Chinese-medium schools. It suggested that financial assistance should be given to schools that taught the English language.

After Singapore attained self-government in 1959, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew delivered a speech that highlighted the significance of bilingualism.

We have in Singapore about 320,000 students. Of these 51% are in English schools, 43 1/2% in Chinese schools, 5% in Malay schools and 1/2% in Tamil schools. If we do nothing about it, we shall produce citizens who can only communicate with those in their own language stream…

Hence the tremendous urgency of getting our students to be bilingual, or even trilingual. Malay is the national language and it should be possible, eventually, for everyone to understand each other through this language. But each racial and cultural group wants, at the same time, to study their mother tongue to keep their links with their cultural heritage. And the Government supports this. And for reasons of employment, many wish to study English as their first foreign language.

An excerpt from a speech by Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the Happy World Stadium, 8 December 1959.

As described by Mr Lee, English was taught as a common language for inter-ethnic communication. Also, this language was being emphasised on for business reasons. As for the ‘Mother Tongue’, it was necessary for ethnic communities to preserve their cultural heritage.

The Policy of Bilingualism in the 1960s
After Singapore became independent, the Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English were recognised as the official languages in Singapore, as stated in Article 153A of the Singapore Constitution.

In 1966, the bilingual policy was implemented, in which all students were required to study English and a ‘Mother Tongue’ in schools. Over time, English became the common language for work and social interaction. Additionally, Mathematics and Science were taught in English.

Bilingualism must be emphasised in schools if we are to build a multi-racial society with a national identity

By using the second language as a medium of instruction, children would be exposed to that language for a much longer period and, moreover, would be compelled to speak it, write it and use it as a tool of communication

Excerpt from a speech by The Minister for Education, Mr. Ong Pang Boon, at the Annual Budget Statement of the Minister for Finance, 12 December 1968.

Reviewing the Bilingual Policy: The ‘Goh Report’
In 1978, then Deputy Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee and his team published a report (titled ‘Report on the Ministry of Education 1978’) that assessed the effectiveness of the education system in Singapore.

The report revealed that many students struggled to grasp two languages due to the lack of familiarity. For instance, nearly 85% of the Chinese students communicated in dialects at home. As such, English and Mandarin were relatively new to them.

On 5 March 1978, Nanyang University announced that it will prepare undergraduates for the same examination as the University of Singapore. this meant instruction in the English language and written examinations in that language.

An excerpt from the Report on the Ministry of Education 1978 by Dr Goh Keng Swee, 10 February 1979

As such, the New Education System was established in 1979, which included streaming at the primary and secondary levels. Besides, language proficiency was also considered for university admission.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the importance of education in supporting the Singapore Government’s efforts at forging national unity.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to write essays for topics like Approaches to National Unity. We also cover other H1 and H2 History topics like the United Nations and the Cold War via online class discussions. Attempt writing practices that will be reviewed and marked by the JC History Tutor to be ready for the examinations.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What are the Shared Values - JC History Essay Notes

What are the Shared Values?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Search for Political Stability
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme I Chapter 2: Approaches to National Unity

Winds of change: Clashing values
In the post-independence years, the founding fathers took the lead in transforming Singapore to a highly-industrialised city-state. By the late 1970s, most of the immediate concerns had been addressed through policies like public housing and compulsory education.

However, there were growing concerns over the influx of foreign influences that threatened social cohesion In 28 October 1988, then First Deputy Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong described how Singaporeans were increasingly exposed to “Western values” that encouraged individualism.

Over the last decade, there has been a clear shift in our values….There is a clear shift towards emphasis on self, or individualism…if it translates into a “me first” attitude, that is bad for social cohesion and the country.

Every society has both these elements, but each differs in the dominance of one over the other. In Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, communitarianism dominates over individualism. This has allowed them to catch up economically with the industrial west in the last 20 years.

Excerpt taken from a speech by Mr Goh Chok Tong, First Deputy Prime Minister, at the PAP Youth Wing Charity Night, 28 October 1988.

Similarly, then President Wee Kim Wee made an opening address to the seventh parliament on 9 January 1989, highlighting the importance of creating a set of shared values to counter the incoming threat of Westernised individualism that conflicted with the “traditional Asian ideas of morality, duty and society”.

…we should preserve the cultural heritage of each of our communities, and uphold certain common values which capture the essence of being a Singaporean. These core values include placing society above self, upholding the family as the basic building block of society, resolving major issues through consensus instead of contention, and stressing racial and religious tolerance and harmony.

…We need to inculcate this National Ideology in all Singaporeans, especially the young. We will do so through moral education and by promoting the use of mother tongue, by strengthening the teaching of values in schools, and through the mass media, especially the newspapers and television.

Excerpt taken from then President Wee Kim Wee’s address to Parliament, 9 January 1989.

Implementation: The Shared Values
On 2 January 1991, a committee led by then Minister for Trade and Industry Lee Hsien Loong published a White Paper (i.e. White Paper on Shared Values) that outlined the five values that the President mentioned earlier in the 1989 speech. In addition to the four core values, a fifth value was included.

The set of shared values were as follows:

  • National before community and society above self
  • Family as the basic unity of society
  • Regard and community support for the individual
  • Consensus instead of contention
  • Racial and religious harmony.

The proliferation of education: Civics and Moral Education
After a series of deliberation and debate, it was decided that the inculcation of such values was to carried out through the Civics and Moral Education (CME) lessons.

The CME programme was introduced on 23 February 1991. At schools, students were taught how to develop good character and become a socially-responsible citizen.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that education was the most significant approach in supporting the government’s efforts in forging national unity [to be discussed in class]?

Join our JC History Tuition and find out how you can consolidate your content awareness for A Level History. Our JC History Tuition Online programmes are suited for JC students taking either H2 or H1 History. You will receive summary notes, essay outlines and additional source based case study practices to derive a more comprehensive strategy for examination preparation.

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