A major challenge to national security is due to unfriendly neighbours.
In particular, countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia whom together with Singapore form a triangular relationship. Singapore being an ethnically diverse society surrounded by larger neighbours of malay majority societies such as Indonesia and Malaysia, the political climate is one that is potentially hostile. History between nations have led to a long held enmity causing negative sentiments towards the thriving of the small nation.
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There are tensions yet to dissipate between Singapore and the two nations. This is evident in direct military threats such as through Indonesia and Malaysia’s largest bilateral military exercise Malindo Darsasa 3AB in Johor- an area uncomfortably close to Singapore- where paratroopers and high military activities were conducted on Singapore’s National Day. This unfriendly display of military forces signals to Singapore that these nations are ready to challenge her sovereignty. A more direct threat to her sovereignty and territorial boundaries is when Malaysia’s information minister had mentioned on Singapore’s National Day that Malaysia should ‘regain full control’ over Singapore given to them since their independence. However, these relationships are indispensable for Singapore as she is heavily dependent on Malaysia and Indonesia for resources such as water and natural gas. This is one of Singapore’s greatest vulnerabilities which is more potent when they use this to their advantage to secure their own interest.
This is especially so with Malaysia. For example when there was conflict between Singapore and Malaysia on the re-location of the railway customs checkpoint, Malaysian authorities had threatened to cut Singapore’s water supply. On multiple occasions, in similar political disagreements due to clashing interests, threats to Singapore’s security of essential resources would be their main strategy to jeopardise Singapore’s economic prosperity and suit their interests. For these reasons, the SAF has to be formidable to ensure that Singapore’s neighbours will not decide to threaten her using military force.
If necessary, a strong SAF can be mobilised should countries fail to supply resources. By constantly adjusting its threat analysis and staying up to date with the right defense technologies and equipment, the SAF has the duty to remain as an effective deterrent, gaining the upper hand over the other militaries at all times.