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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is New Order - Approaches to Governance JC History Essay Notes

What is New Order?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Search for Political Stability
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme I Chapter 1: Approaches to Governance

Examine the historical developments of Indonesia under Suharto’s New Order – Video by PinterPolitik TV

Historical Context: The 30 September movement
After President Sukarno declared the start of the “Guided Democracy” in 1957, the Indonesian government consolidated political control to restore peace and stability in the nation. However, Sukarno encountered difficulties in managing two notable roles – the military and the Partai Kommunis Indonesia (PKI). As such, he sought to re-energise the Indonesian society through the campaign in West New Guinea and the Konfrontasi, declaring a revival of the Indonesian Revolution.

On 30 September 1965, an abortive coup had resulted in the deaths of six senior generals (later known as the Gerakan 30 September). As the leader of the KOSTRAD (Komando Strategis Angkatan Darat, also known as the Army Strategic Command), General Suharto investigated the incident. Subsequently, the PKI was accused of launching the coup.

The end of Guided Democracy: Supersemar
On 11 March 1966, President Sukarno signed a decree that granted Suharto full political authority to restore order in Indonesia. The transfer of executive power was known as Supersemar (Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret)

III. Memutuskan/Memerintahkan:

Kepada: LETNAN DJENDRAL SUHARTO MENTERI PANGLIMA ANGKATAN DARAT

Untuk: Atas nama Presiden/Panglima Tertinggi/Pemimpin Besar Revolusi:

1. Mengambil segala tindakan yang dianggap perlu untuk terdjaminnja keamanan dan ketenangan, serta kestabilan djalannja pemerintahan dan djalannja Revolusi, serta mendjamin keselamatan pribadi dan kewibawaan Pimpinan Presiden/Panglima Tertinggi/Pemimpin Besar Revolusi/Mandataris M.P.R.S. demi untuk keutuhan Bangsa dan Negara Republik Indonesia, dan melaksanakan dengan pasti segala adjaran Pemimpin Besar Revolusi.

Excerpt from Supersemar (Order of Eleventh March), 11 March 1966.

From the above extract, it states that General Suharto was granted the authority to take any necessary measures to guarantee the security, stability and progress of the Indonesian Revolution.

The New Order
After the Supersemar was signed, the PKI was banned. Between June to July 1966, the membership within the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat Sementara), which operated as the legislative branch of the Indonesian political system, experienced a purge. Individuals that formerly supported Sukarno were removed on the basis of being involved in the 30 September Movement.

Agains the Cold War backdrop, the USA also made observations that the rise of Suharto was a notable development that ushered a period of political stability in Indonesia after Sukarno’s inability to manage the Communist threat in the 1950s and 1960s.

The regime of General Suharto has brought Indonesia to a stage of imposed political stability and the beginnings of economic revival. Although the army holds predominant and ultimate political power, civilian participation in government is considerable and effective.

The New Order sees its basic tasks as the restoration of the economy, the continued suppression of Communism, and the development of stable representative government which would include a substantial political role for the army.

An excerpt taken from the Weekly Summary Special Report: The New Order in Indonesia, Central Intelligence Agency, 11 August 1967.

After the New Order was established, Suharto granted the military a political role to maintain stability. The concept of dwifungsi (dual function) was implemented as a policy to legitimise its role.

Until the fall of Suharto, the military considered dwifungsi to be its function, reason and spirit. The missions of security and socio-political development were inseparable. By directing socio-political development, the military served to support the goals of development, political and social stability, defence and national integrity. Any deviant social or political movement that threatened the status quo was seen as a threat to national security.

An excerpt from “Power Politics and the Indonesian Military” by Damien Kingsbury

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the significance of the military in maintaining political stability of Indonesia under the New Order regime.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn more about the history of Indonesia and other Southeast Asian states. We provide useful study notes, essay outlines and practices for source based case study questions. We conduct online learning programmes for H1 and H2 History students to prepare for the GCE A Level History 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 is the New Society Movement - Approaches to Governance JC History Essay Notes

What is the New Society Movement?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Search for Political Stability
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme I Chapter 1: Approaches to Governance

Find out what happened during the EDSA Revolution that led to the end of Marcos’ rule in 1986.

Historical context: Declaration of the Martial Law
After Ferdinand Marcos held the second term as President of the Philippines in 1969, the government was hampered by the growing political divisions as well as the outbreak of rebellions.

On 23 September 1972, Marcos declared Martial Law, thus ushering a period of authoritarian rule.

Formation of the New Society Movement
In 1978, Marcos announced that elections would be held to form the Interim National Assembly (Interim Batasang Pambansa). In February, he formed the New Society Movement (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, KBL) that included officials from the Liberal and Nacionalista Parties.

It derived its name from the phrase Bagong Lipunan (“new society”), which Marcos claimed he was establishing with the Martial Law regime: a new society in the sense that it would be rid of the old society’s ills, such as graft and corruption, indiscipline, lack of respect for authority…

An excerpt from “Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor” (by Keat Gin Ooi).

The New Society ideology
Additionally, Marcos advocated the “New Society” to pursue economic modernisation and legitimse his rule.

We speak of a New Society…[Ours is] the dream that someday under somebody, we will be able to build a society that will give every man dignity and decency. And it shall return rationality into our political institutions, into our economy, and into our society… and this dream is what we are trying to implement now. It is the dream of every Filipino…that aspires for progress and modernization.”

An excerpt from “Development and Democratization in the Third World: Myths, Hopes, and Realities” [Edited by Kenneth E. Bauzon).

One of the notable economic policies was the “Prosperity 99” (Masagana 99), which is a self-sufficiency programme to provide credit access to rice farmers. By doing so, these producers can buy land and raise rice production.

Without doubt, the Masagana 99 program contributed significantly to the increase in the rice yield and in total production, especially in 1974 and 1975. The reports issued on Masagana 99 state that yield increases by the 900,000 participating farmers ranged from 0.4 to 1.2 t/ha, depending on the level of their former yields and the extent to which they had adopted modern practices.

An excerpt from “Rice in the Tropics: A Guide to the Development of National Programs” (By Robert Flint Chandler).

The end of Marcos’ Regime: The People Power Revolution
However, Marcos’ New Society was short-lived as internal political disunity and economic setbacks culminated in a large-scale mass demonstration, known as the People Power Revolution, in 1986. Eventually, Marcos left the Philippines, thus allowing Corazon Aquino to facilitate a peaceful democratic transition.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the political stability of the Philippines depended on political leaders?

Join our JC History Tuition and find out how you can consolidate your content for the Approaches to Governance topic, as well as other themes such as the Cold War and United Nations. Our programme is available for students taking either H2 or H1 History. You will receive concise study notes, essay outlines and additional references to make learning productive.

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

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is Pancasila - National Unity JC History Essay Notes

What is Pancasila?

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

Indonesian President Sukarno’s speech on “Pancasila” in 1956 [Video by KompasTV]

Historical Context
On 1 June 1945, Sukarno gave a speech to the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence (Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kermerdekaan, BPUPK).

In that speech, the concept of Pancasila was introduced. The word itself was derived from Sanskrit, in which “Panca” means five and “sila” implies principles.

Sukarno’s Interpretation
The Five Principles were as follows:

  • Belief in God (Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa)
  • Nationalism (Nasionalisme)
  • Internationalism (Internationalisme)
  • Democracy (Musyawarah Mufakat)
  • Social Justice (Kesejahteraan Sosial)

Later, the second iteration of the Pancasila was introduced, the Pancasila was reordered. After the promulgation of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, Pancasila became the fundamental political philosophy of the independent state.

Suharto’s Interpretation
Under Suharto’s New Order, the Indonesian government further institutionalised Pancasila as a national ideology. Although there was a change of political leadership in the 1960s, the Pancasila was a universal concept that strengthened national identity.

In 1974 Pancasila Industrial Relations (Hubungan Industrial Pancasila) was promulgated. This served to legitimise widespread state intervention, at the same time it nullified the legitimacy of strike action via its emphasis on familial and harmonious relations between labour, capital and the state…

While the importance of loyalty to the New Order was increasingly mediated through state-defined ideas about Pancasila, against the backdrop of an image of the Indonesian nation as a united and harmonious family (with Suharto as the father)…, which exhorted Indonesians to work together to develop the nation and bring about economic take-off, under the leadership of Suharto, the “father of development” (Bapak Pembangunan).

By Mark T. Berger, The Battle for Asia: From Decolonization to Globalization

Berger’s analysis revealed the signficance of Pancasila as an ideological basis for stronger state involvement not only for the promotion of social cohesion, but also for the pursuit of economic development.

The proliferation of Pancasila: Education
In practice, the New Order regime introduced education policies that emphasised on the study of Pancasila across all levels of society, starting with primary school students.

In 1978, the “Guidelines for Understanding and Practices of Pancasila” (P4) was introduced in the People’s Consultative Assembly.

The New Order enforced one single interpretation of state ideology and how to put it into practice by way of the then-popular program, a Course on the Guidelines for Internalizing and Practicing the Pancasila (Penataran P4/ Pedoman Penghayatan dan Pengalaman Pancasila). Declaring itself to be anti-communist, the New Order regime made Pancasila the political instrument upon which all policies had to be based.

By Shingo Minamizuka, World History Teaching in Asia: A Comparative Survey

In 1980, students in primary and secondary schools, as well as universities, were required to undergo the P4 Training. It aims to foster the comprehension and application of the P4 as a form of moral education.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the significance of Pancasila as a national ideology that was introduced to forge national unity in post-independent Indonesia.

Join our JC History Tuition and learn how to organise your thematic knowledge for essay and source based case study questions. We introduce online learning classes that are instrumental in streamlining your review of past content and refining your writing skills to ace the GCE A Level History examinations.

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

JC History Tuition 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.

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

JC H2 History Tuition Online - What is financial liberalisation - Economic Development - Essay Notes

What is financial liberalisation?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Economic Development after Independence
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Paths to Economic Development

Learn more about the economic impacts of the Doi Moi in Vietnam in shaping economic development [Video by the IMF]

The Pursuit of Economic Growth
As governments in independent Southeast Asian states raced to advance their economies through various approaches, financial liberalisation became of the pivotal efforts in fulfilling their targets. This trend was largely observed by the late 1980s across the nations in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam: Doi Moi
In 1986, Vietnam introduced free-market economic reforms known as Doi Moi (“economic renovation”) to revive its economy and spur growth. Led by the General secretary Nguyen Van Linh, the Vietnamese government passed the Foreign Investment Law (1987) that allowed foreign ownership for firms investing in areas like consumer goods. Two years later, the government floated the exchange rate, which supported further liberalisation of markets.

Thailand: Currency devaluation
In early 1980s, the Prem government sought to attract foreign investments to support its export-oriented industrialisation (EOI) policies and correct a trade deficit. In November 1984, the Thai baht was devaluated by 15%. This proved beneficial as foreign investments from Japan surged to $27.9 billion in 1990. In addition, the Bangkok International Banking Facility (BIBF) was set up in 1993, which provided tax incentives to its banks.

Singapore: Export Promotion
In comparison with its regional counterparts, Singapore embarked on financial liberalisation at a relatively earlier stage due to its inherent constraints, such as limited land size. As such, the government adopted EOI in the late 1960s, as observed by the Export Expansion Incentives Act (1967) that reduced the tax rate for selected industries to 4% for 15 years.

On 1 January 1971, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) was established. The MAS was granted the authority to regulate the financial services sector in Singapore. The MAS maintained a strong and stable exchange rate to attract foreign investments.

A Brewing Storm: The Washington Consensus
Against the backdrop of Crisis Decades that plagued many developed and developing economies in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly the Third World Debt Crisis, British economist John Williamson introduced the “Washington Consensus” term in 1989.

At that time, USA proposed that both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should support debt management through a series of liberal reforms. These structural reforms included financial liberalisation, flexible exchange rates and free trade. In return, these developing countries would receive loans.

However, the increased emphasis on liberalisation proved disastrous to Southeast Asian economies. Without adequate regulatory frameworks, the adverse effects of currency speculation then triggered the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the significance of financial liberalisation in shaping the economic growth of Southeast Asian states after independence [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition and find out how you can apply your knowledge of Paths to Economic Development as well as other topics in the A Level History syllabus to essay and source based case study questions effectively. Our programmes are conducted online to support students taking either H1 or H2 History. Get feedback on how your answers can be further improved by consulting our JC History Tutor.

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

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is Rukun Negara - JC History Essay Notes

What is Rukun Negara?

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 origins of the national ideology
The Rukun Negara (National Principles) was introduced on 31 August 1970 by the Malaysian Government to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the nation’s independence (Hari Merdeka).

Its creation as a national ideology was in response to “13 May” incident in 1969 , following the general election in Malaysia. The outbreak of riots had resulted in the creation of the National Operations Council (Majlis Gerakan Negara) to restore peace and stability to Malaysia till 1971.

From then on, the Rukun Negara was created to forge national unity among the citizens.

Details of the National Principles
According to this national ideology, the citizens of Malaysia pledge to achieve the following five principles:

  • Belief in God
  • Loyalty to King and Country
  • Upholding the Constitution
  • Rule of Law
  • Good Behaviour and Morality

Bahagian Kedua Menggariskan Lima Prinsip Rukun Negara yang berikut:

– Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan

– Kesetiaan Kepada Raja dan Negara

– Keluhuran Perlembagaan

– Kedaulatan Undang-undang

– Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan

Excerpt from Rukun Negara, Department of Information, Malaysia

Implementation: Education
Students are required to sing the national anthem (Negaraku) and recite the Rukun Negara during school assemblies Over the years, this ideology has become a guiding principle to encourage racial harmony and mutual respect.

Apart from promoting unity among the people, Rukun Negara also maintains the democratic way of life; creates a just society; ensures a liberal approach to customs and culture; and develops a progressive society based on modern science and technology.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Malaysia Unity Foundation [From New Straits Times, 9 February 2020]

Other approaches were used as well such as the creation of an organisation to promote the ideology. The Kelab Rukun Negara (Rukun Negara Club) was formed in schools to conduct activities focused on promoting the appreciation and practice of this ideology among students.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the significance of ideology in supporting the government’s efforts in forging national unity [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to organise your content effectively. We provide study notes, essay outlines and source based case study practices to ensure that you have adequate support to be ready for the GCE A Level examination. Our lessons are available for those taking either H2 or H1 History.

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

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 Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the South China Sea dispute - JC History Essay Notes

What is the South China Sea dispute?

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)

Find out more about these major developments that shaped the protracted territorial dispute.

Historical Background
South China Sea dispute involves a large region of islands, reefs and banks. In particular, the region relates to contentious parts like Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal. The dispute originated from competing territorial claims between ASEAN-related countries (Philippines and Vietnam) and external powers, particularly China. For example, China based its territorial claims on the ‘nine dash line’ map, which was contested on by other claimants.

Unfortunately, these competing claims have resulted in clashes that occasionally escalated into violent confrontations. In January 1974, China clashed with South Vietnam over the ‘Paracels’, which resulted in the sinking of several Vietnamese ships and a substantial number of casualties. In 1988, China attacked Vietnamese forces in the Spratlys Islands, leading to frayed bilateral tensions.

Competing Claims
From the late 1970s to 1980s, Philippines advanced its claims on the Spratlys. In June 1978, Marcos announced the Presidential Decree that established the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which covered 200 nautical miles of the affected region. Likewise, in 1988, Brunei outlined an EEZ that stretched into the southern part of the Spratlys.

ASEAN’s intervention I: The Manila Declaration
On 22 July 1992, during the 25th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), the regional organization formed the ASEAN Declaration of the South China Sea at Manila, Philippines. The Declaration was formed on the basis of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) of 1976, which advocated non-violent means of dispute resolution. It was a significant milestone for ASEAN as China agreed to sign the document.

However, the competing claims resurfaced again in the mid-1990s. On 8 February 1995, Philippines observed the development of a militarised Mischief Reef. In the late 1990s, Philippines clashed with China at the Mischief Reef and the Scarborough Shoal.

A divided ASEAN?
Given Philippines’ proximity to the contested region, it raised the matter to ASEAN. Yet, not all ASEAN members held a similar position regarding the dispute. This was observed in the disagreements over Philippines’ proposal for a new code-of-conduct during the AMM in July 1999. Furthermore, most countries were occupied with their domestic matters, given the severity of the Asian Financial Crisis of July 1997.

Besides, Indonesia sought to pursue an alternative solution due to the lack of unanimity in ASEAN. In 1990, Indonesia conducted the Workshops on Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea. The workshop functions on a ‘two-track diplomacy’: (a) regional cooperation between ASEAN and China (b) bilateral cooperation between claimant parties

This informal diplomacy did make significant contributions to the management of disputes as China was unwilling to work with multilateral arrangements.

ASEAN’s intervention II: Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC)
On 4 November 2002, ASEAN promulgated another landmark agreement, which was known as the DOC at Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The document was signed by both China and ASEAN.

Contents included the reaffirmed commitment to adhere to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), TAC and other international law. For example, “The Parties concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means“.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How successful was ASEAN managing the South China Sea dispute? [to be discussed in class].

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