East Asia in International Relations Essay Submitted by – Meha Lodha 1st year MA International Relations University of Wroclaw January

2010

Singapore’s Relations with the United States and Malaysia
Table of Contents Singapore’s Relations with the United States and Malaysia...............................................1 Introduction......................................................................................................................1 Singapore and the United States......................................................................................2 Singapore – United States Trade..................................................................................3 Singapore and United States as Defense Partners........................................................3 Singapore and Malaysia...................................................................................................5 Singapore-Malaysian Disputes....................................................................................5 Improved Singapore-Malaysian Relations...................................................................6 Sources.............................................................................................................................7

Introduction
Singapore maintains diplomatic relations with 175 countries although it does not maintain a high commission or embassy in many of those countries. It is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement. As part of its role in the United Nations, Singapore held a rotational seat on the UN Security Council from 2001-2002. It participated in UN peacekeeping/observer missions in Kuwait, Angola, Namibia, Cambodia, and East Timor. As a small state without natural resources, Singapore has established a foreign policy that is conducive for cultivating external bilateral relations.

Singapore has trade and defense relations with the United States which are very crucial. The United States is perceived as a stabilizing force in East Asia to counterbalance the regional powers. Due to obvious geographical reasons, Singapore’s relations with Malaysia are very important. This essay will deal with Singapore’s relations with the United States and Malaysia.

Singapore and the United States
Since its independence in 1965, Singapore has maintained formal diplomatic relations with the United States (US). Singapore's efforts to maintain economic growth and political stability and its support for regional cooperation harmonize with US policy in the region and form a solid basis for amicable relations between the two countries. The US and Singapore have a Free Trade Agreement between them. The growth of US investment in Singapore and the large number of Americans living there enhance opportunities for contact between Singapore and the US. Many Singaporeans visit and study in the US. The US government sponsors visitors from Singapore each year under the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The US Government provides Fulbright Awards to enable selected American professors to teach or conduct research at the National University of Singapore and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. It awards scholarships to outstanding Singaporean students for graduate studies at American universities and to American students to study in Singapore. The US government also sponsors occasional cultural presentations in Singapore. The East-West Center and private American organizations, such as the Asia Foundation and Ford Foundation, also sponsor exchanges involving Singaporeans.

Singapore – United States Trade
Singapore was the US’s 11th largest export market in the first nine months of 2009. In 2003, Singapore and the US signed the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA), which came into force in January 2004. This was the first free trade agreement that the US entered into with an East Asian country. The agreement has helped Singapore exporters to benefit from tariff concessions, increase competitiveness and attract investors. The USSFTA outlines the duties and obligations of Singapore and the US with regard to areas such as trade in goods and services, customs procedures, movement of business persons, intellectual property protection and the environment. It also sets out the guidelines for dispute settlement procedures. The USSFTA covers trade in goods, rules of origin, customs administration, technical barriers to trade, trade remedies, cross border trade in services, financial services, temporary entry, telecommunications, e-commerce, investment, competition, government procurement, intellectual property protection, transparency, general provisions, labour, environment, dispute settlement. During the first five years of the USSFTA (2004 to 2009), two-way trade has increased 41 percent and US exports by nearly 74 percent. In the same period, two-way trade in services increased 35.4 percent and US exports of services by 20 percent to US$7.2 billion. In 2007, Singapore was the second largest recipient of US investment in Asia after Japan ($101.6 billion), and the twelfth largest recipient worldwide.

Singapore and United States as Defense Partners

Singapore and the US are defense partners; Singapore buys a large number of weapon systems from the US, and has close ties such as the F-16 detachment stationed at Luke Air Force Base. In return, the US Navy is allowed to use Singaporean naval facilities, including the newly constructed Changi Naval Base designed with USN aircraft carriers in mind. Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1990, the US military is permitted to use Paya Lebar Airbase and Sembawang wharves; a US naval logistic unit was established in Singapore in 1992. The Regional Emerging Diseases Intervention Centre (REDI) which opened on 24 May 2004 is a joint US-Singapore collaboration to promote cooperation in tackling emerging infectious diseases. The centre facilitates the exchange of information and expertise on surveillance; prevention and control of, and research on, communicable and non-communicable diseases; and on bioterrorism concerns. The US and Singapore formalized an increasingly close working defense relationship in July 2005 when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President George W. Bush signed the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) in Washington. This agreement opened “a new chapter in strategic cooperation” and identified the US and Singapore as “major security cooperation partners.” Through the SFA the US and Singapore address issues such as counter terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, emerging Asian powers, American engagement in Asia, and the maintenance of regional security. The US seeks to promote maritime security cooperation in the area of the strategically important Straits of Malacca by working with Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to develop a command, control, and communications infrastructure that will facilitate cooperation in the area of maritime surveillance of the Straits. Approximately, one third of world trade and half the world’s oil transits the Straits of Malacca. Singapore is a key logistical hub positioned strategically between the Indian Ocean and the South

China Sea. It is also strategically significant because Singapore is the only non-US base port capable of docking an American aircraft carrier in the region.

Singapore and Malaysia
Singapore was formerly part of Malaysia but was separated in 1965 due to political differences and racial tension. There remains a high degree of economic and social inter-dependence between the two countries. For example, Singapore imports the vast majority of fresh meat and vegetables from Malaysia, and Malaysia supplies a large fraction of Singapore's fresh water according to two treaties. Many Malaysians work in Singapore, some living in Singapore as permanent residents, while many also commute from Johor Bahru daily. Bilateral relations are complex and have experienced many highs and lows over the last 40 years.

Singapore-Malaysian Disputes
Singapore has several long-standing disputes with Malaysia over a number of issues:

Water Issue Singapore suffers from major water scarcity. Malaysia has always been a reliable provider of water to Singapore, but Malaysia has often used threats of cutting off the water supply to pressure Singapore politically. Pedra Branca Dispute The island known as Pedra Branca is located 24 nautical miles (44 km) off the east coast of Singapore with a land area of 2,000 m2 (2,392 sq yd). The island also comprises the Middle Rocks, two clusters of rocks situated 0.6 nmi (1.1 km) south of the

main island. Both countries had staked a claim on the island and were unable to settle the dispute themselves. The case was heard at the International Court of Justice in 2007, with both parties presenting their case. The court delivered its judgment on 23 May 2008, ruling that Singapore would own Pedra Branca and Malaysia would own Middle Rocks. Ownership of South Ledge, a nearby rock formation which can be seen only at low tide is still disputed. Land Reclamation Singapore carried out land reclamation works in the southwestern end of the island Tuas Development. This resulted in a territorial dispute as Malaysia claims the land reclamation works has encroached into its territorial waters in an area called the "Point 20 sliver". Singapore does not recognize the "point 20 sliver" as under Malaysian sovereignty. Others Other disputes include relocating the Singapore station of Malaysia's Keretapi Tanah Melayu from Tanjong Pagar to Bukit Timah and moving Malaysia's immigration checkpoint from the railway station to the Causeway. Singapore has not allowing laid off Malaysian workers, employed in Singapore shipyards in 1998, to receive their Central Provident Funds (CPF) contributions, which are estimated to be RM2.4 billion. These disputes demonstrate that the relations between Singapore and Malaysia continue to be driven by fundamentally competitive forces which show little sign of dissipating in the foreseeable future. Shared key interests such as the economic interlinkages as well as the fight against terrorism may have mitigated the intensity of differences to a certain extent but the overall tone remains conflictual.

Improved Singapore-Malaysian Relations

Relations between the two countries has improved in recent years, especially since the transition of leadership in both governments. These relations improved by leaps and bounds when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over the post as Prime Minister. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the ex-Prime Minister, still raises claims regarding Singapore's intentions in a number of matters, such as land reclamation. In 26 April 2005, the two countries signed a settlement agreement concerning Singapore's land reclamation in and around the Straits of Johor. Both countries exchanged many high-level visits in 2004 and 2005, including the visit to Singapore in 12 January 2004 by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who had just taken over from Mahathir bin Mohamad in October 2003.

Sources
• • • • • • Information Paper on the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA), 16 May 2003 Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs Brochure U.S. Trade with Singapore: 2009 (Jan-Sep) vs. 2008 (Jan-Sep), Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, BEA, and ITA http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2798.htm#relations September 2009 Singapore’s Troubled Relations with Malaysia by Chang Li Lin, Southeast Asian Affairs 2003 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_Singapore#Malaysia Accessed: January 20, 2010

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