Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Singapore-Malaysia Relations


THE PEOPLE ACTION PARTY(PAP) created Singapore out of its image, the work of its long-term leader, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. It dismantled the British superstructure in the island colony and put in its place the sinews of a modern administrative state. But in doing so, it created a whole colony of beavers, who worked hard, kept their thoughts to themselves, and did what they were asked to do. Those who did not follow the general trend were severely dealt with, and that included recalcitrant journalists and overseas magazines, The officials assumed a persona of their own, believed they could do no wrong, and looked down upon the people they negotiated with, if they were Malaysians, and got the edge over them by slick public relations.

The general feeling in Singapore is that the country across the causeway is their's for the kicking. The one time they clashed over water, in which Singapore assumed it was theirs and did Malaysia a favour by giving it treated water, it took Mr Lee Kuan Yew to see his counterpart, Tun Mahathir Mohamed, in 1986, and gave the Malaysians the upper hand in relations with the island republic.

Singapore thinks it is a Chinese island surrounded by a hostile Islamic sea, and first patterned itself to Israel in the Middle East, and then a United States outpost in the region. It remained afraid of Malaysia, and became globalisation's South-East Asian centre. It ignored its traditional entrepot trade with its neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia, and thought it had a march on its neighbours by being as Western as possible. Mr Lee had a plan, and has faithfully followed it, but he has created a capitalist soceity with a communist heart. The people who carried this out kept their mouths shut and made themselves rich and western.

The second generation of civil servants knew the value of keeping their mouths shut, and doing what they are told. It brought in the US armed forces into the island republic so that it assumed a Malaysian attack on the island republic would be an attack on the United States. But it could also be the other way. In any case, if the past is any guide, it would harm Singapore more than Malaysia. The US leaning towards Pakistan has not prevented India from attacking it.

When Malaysian teachers and people in the education ministry had their retreat in Teluk Kemang (Port Dickson), they invited their Singapore counterparts, who kept mum throughout the retreat. A spokesman for the Singaporeans had to explain why they kept quiet. They keep their thoughts to themselves for even the walls have ears. They did what they were told. Nothing more nothing less. And they envied their Malaysian colleagues who criticised what needs to, even the most junior! A Malaysian working for a multinational company is posted to its Singapore office. He suggested a course of action against Malaysia, which he later found was much lower than the Malaysians were prepared to pay. But the Singapore head of the office did not want to do anything that will make him a sore thumb. So he took safe decisions, he and his officers did not think, so the current phrase goes, out of the box.

It will grow worse with time. But the comforting fact for them is that Mr Lee, 83, is around now. He is the only person left who was elected to the legislative assembly in 1959 and the PAP, with him as prime minister, came to power. He is now minister mentor, two steps higher than the prime minister. He promises to stay on in the legislative assembly for five more years. But time is a great leveller, and he would possibly not be around in his nineties. That is when Singapore will falll apart.

The new leaders, in the modern Singapore mould, and its thinkers will fall apart. Singapore knows this, and has cranked its public relations machine to show the world it does not need Johore's water. It has expensive desalination plants planned. It converts sewage into drinkingable water, calling it Newater. It hopes to get water from the outer islands, including Indonesia's Batam. It gives the impression that it sells Johore its own water, after treatment, though that is in the contract, which expires in 2061, is not mentioned. Malaysia insisted that the agreement calls for giving the Singaporean drinking water, but not to make money of it by selling water at higher prices to commercial organisations.

Rightly, Malaysia insisted on a share of that profits. Another public relations barrage attacked Malaysia for asking a share of the profits. But Singapore is on the defensive. It knows it cannot look Malaysia in the eye. There is talk of invading Malaysia. The crooked bridge is not as fanciful or odd as it seems. This would prevent a Singapore army from ever invading Malaysia. They do not have the ingenuity of the Japanese army, who finding the Australian sappers had bombed the causeway, crossed into the island from Johore Bahru by cross the channel on bicycles with propellers. The British were sure the Japanese would attack the island in conventional ways, had all its heavy guns trained outside, when the Japanese army caught them unawares from behind.

The second link is away from Johore Bahru, between Jurong and Gelang Patah, and its army would have to fight on touching Malaysian territory. But the Singapore army cannot fight, like the Americans, and depend on modern warfare, which has no relevance in Malaysia. In the year 2061, the water agreements expire, and would have to be renegotiated. But Johore, and Malaysia, may not want to extend the agreement. If it wants the water agreement extended, Malaysia would probably ask Singapore to be part of Johore, a much smaller entity than Singapore was when it was in Malaysia. Sixty years is a long time in politics. But for Malaysia, intensely political, it is a short time indeed. It may not happen as predicted, but then it may!

M.G.G. Pillai

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Tigers, Singapore Has To Contend With


There have been alot of tensions between Singapore and Malaysia, on issues pertaining from water to Pedro Branca or Pulau Batu Putih.Some Singaporean websites present things that if there was a war it will be a walkover for them, then there is this book by Tim Huxley, "Defending the Lion City", which makes out the war scenario with pre-emptive strikes on Malaysian Forces. Where Malaysian Forces are defeated and Malaysians are subject to Singapore's Military rule.

First of all Singapore and Malaysia, their fortunes are entwined, with blood ties across the causeway. There will be no winners in this war. Let me explain, Singapore considers itself the little Israel of South East Asia, thats why a lot of hawks down there advocate confrontation. There is no denying that its forces are well armed. The Israelis have always defeated the Arabs in all their wars, this confidence is ingrained in the Singapore minds. Let's have a reality check here, the Arabs do not regularly have Combined Arms Exercises, meaning they do not exercise simultaneously with their Armies, Navies and Airforce. Why ? To conduct combined exercises there must be clearance from the highest levels, so as to place the state police apparatus on the ongoing exercises, so that the Generals can be monitored. None of their despotic Arab leaders wants a coup conducted against them when all these many generals get together. So in other words their forces are never really tested. Only when cleared at the highest levels are they ever held, as it is a hassle to get clearance, therefore their forces are rarely tested, they learn most oftheir lessons during the war with the Israelis, but then it is too late.

Normally the Military is used against it's own citizens which they are very adept at. At lower levels, tank regiments do not exercise with infantry regiments, artillery and with others which is important to coordinate attacks and defence, these exercises not only strengthen coordination, weaknesses can be identified and rectified, logistics needs for hour to hour requirements on the battle field can be enhanced to improve deliverability, strengths noted to be improved upon, doctrines tested, if needed, changed to evolve into a magnificient fighting force. There is a dictum "the way you train is the way you are going to fight".

Malaysian troops constantly have combined arms exercises throughout the year, they have elaborately planned out training cycles for the individual,units, brigades, divisions and the corps as a whole. The Singapore mind, to place the Malaysian forces in the same category as the Arabs is an under estimation. Malaysian soldiers, sailors and airman join the regular forces for the love of the profession, most of them. There are servicemen with an impressive lineage of soldiering. Most Malaysian servicemen have been blooded. They exercise in peace times with imaginery enemies, they have made mistakes, they go back to the drawing boards. They know their weaknesses,they improvise, adapt and overcome. They also conduct lots of cross training with foreign forces.

An elevated level of cooperation with the United States on the range of fronts.There have been more than 75 U.S. military ship visits in the past two and a half years. The United States conducts training exercises with the Royal Malaysian Air Force, flying with and against them in mock battles. U.S. Navy SEALs conduct training in Malaysia twice a year. The U.S. Army does field exercises with the Malaysian army. I might mention here that, for their expertise in jungle warfare, Malaysians are known in the business as "whispering death." Finally, 1,500 Malaysian defense personnel have benefited from the U.S.

The confidence factor in the Singapore mind is their formidable airforce with their air to air refuelling capability, to bring them in from Australia, Taiwan and the US. One does not strike pre-emptively out of the blue. ". On this page you can find the aircraft order of battle of the Malaysian Air Force, locally known as Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia.
There should be an escalation of tensions. The majority of the Singapore servicemen are conscripts, the key elements of their forces are made up of their regulars. That means there is no continuation in training.

It is a major factor that will contribute in the performance of it's frontline troops. I have seen the conscripts perform, which makes me confident that we can defeat them on the ground, as the bulk of Singapore's forces comprise of conscripts. I do honestly hope they do not faint when they see blood and guts ! Malaysian troops are the only forces in the world to have defeated a communist insurgency. They happen to be the best jungle fighters in the world. Elite fores all over the world are trained by them. The jungle warfare school in Fort Benning, Georgia was set up by a Malaysian team.

Just to recapture, on the 3rd of October 1993 incident, in Mogadishu, Somalia a combined team of 4 Pakistani tanks and 24 Malaysian Infantry fighting vehicles rescued America's elite fighting unit, the Rangers. You can see the fictious account in the movie, "Black Hawk Down". For your information as they were moving into the combat zone, when hostile fire was being received the Pakistani tanks turned tail and fled, this has been hushed up in the name of diplomacy. The Malaysians persevered, rescuing the Rangers at the cost of one Malaysian killed, 9 wounded and losing 4 IFVs. Seventy, so called elite American forces did not litter the streets of Mogadishu with their bodies because of the sacrifices made by the Malaysians. Of course US magazines belittled the contribution of the Malaysian troops by calling them 'gun shy', as mentioned in Newsweek.

The Malaysians kept all MSRs openedwhen the Americans withdrew into a shell after that incident and to later withdraw from Somalia. An extract from the Washington Post. "They realized they'd have to do it in armor, so we linked them with 24 Malaysian armored personnel carriers, four Pakistani tanks and two armored personnel carriers and a company of armored Humvees," Stockwell said. Stockwell said "it came together very quickly" and strongly disputed the report of a U.S. Army officer in Washington that "it took intense pressure from Americans to get the Malaysians and some Pakistani M-113s to deploy." "I will grant you that in this international U.N. military we do not have the same command and control; the unity of command is a lot looser, so sometimes it takes some persuading," Stockwell said. But he added: "The Malaysians performed magnificently."

Summary of combat operations. or the US Ranger version.

Malaysians training the US Marines at jungle warfare.

In the decades in the fight against the Communists, there is no record of a Malaysian soldier taken alive. In Singapore's case during the 'Confrontation' against the Indonesians, there is one sorry episode the Singaporeans would like to forget involving the 1st Singapore Infantry Regiment. The Malaysian military remembers it's past, this is an incident which took place in the Congo in the sixties, when 13 Italian airmen, who took refuge at a Malaysian camp, were surrenderd to the rebels by a Malaysian Company Commander, of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment(refer to book by Lt. Col Maurice Lam). The 13 airmen were literally hacked to pieces in front of them.One of the reasons why the Malaysians did not turn down the Americans.

Just to show a weakness in Singapore's anti-armour weaponry, the MILAN needs to stabilize after launch for 400 meters, meaning it needs flat and a clear area before it is guided onto the target. There are not many open places in Malaysia to accomodate that. There are many other weaknesses that I will not mention here. The AWACs, Singapore has, are nearing shelf life, the Malaysians are going to acquire new ones. The Singapore subs are second hand and their tanks are antiquated AMX which have been upgraded so many times, using Frog (French) technology and the British Centurions. Their APCs are still with technology from the sixties. The Malaysian tanks which will be acquired are from the New Europe, Poland. Malaysians are in the process of getting new IFVs from Turkey. Very effective air defence systems are being purchased.

The 'Apache' helicopters AH64D have not been very effective against the enemy on the ground, proven in Karbala and Operation Anaconda. The'turkey shoot" during the Gulf war was a one sided affair on a retreating enemy during the first Gulf War, creating a myth on the invincibility of the Apache. Helicopters that attacked Iraqi Republican Guard units south of Baghdad on March 24 03."In attacking a formation of about 40 Apache Longbows on Monday, the Iraqis staged a classic helicopter ambush first perfected by the North Vietnamese in the 1960s. As the lethal, tank-killing aircraft approached on a mission to destroy the Medina Division's dispersed armor, troops dispersed throughout a palm-lined residential area and opened fire with antiaircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenades and a wall of fire from rifles and other small arms. ... "The Iraqi fire was so intense that the Apaches had to break off their mission and return to base." The results of that failed mission strongly suggest that the modern helicopter is a battlefield liability

Malaysia has MLRS regiments, where the dream target for an MLRS regiment is one such as Singapore, compact and dense.This is a quantum leap of firepower for Malaysia. Malaysia has currently 70 combat aircraft compared to Singapore's 150 combat aircraft. That gap will be narrowed when the Malaysians take dlivery of 18 F-18 Super Hornets and 24 Sukhois. Malaysia will not have limited warfare conducted on Singapore but total destruction.

This is an extract from an article by Derek da Cunha of the Institute of South East Asian Studies, " The Singapore Armed Forces could be described as a rapier, it is manoeuvrable, slick, and, in the hands of a skilled swordsman, can do all the fancy moves in attempting to deliver the lethal stab. On the other hand the Malaysian Armed Forces is like a broadsword; it's not very manoeuvrable, not slick, and, even in the hands of a skilled swordsman is unlikely to do all the fancy moves. Indeed it is fairly lumbering and unwieldy. However, in the ultimate analysis, a single slash of the broadsword could well result in the rapier snapping in half".

Malaysian terrain is very tough for the unexposed or the uninitiated. Allow me to paint a war scenario. Before that have a glimpse of some of Malaysia's naval vessels. Here is part of the details. More on the surface vessels. .

Malaysia and Singapore water talks (50% of Singapore's water needs is supplied by Malaysia) bog down and there is this ill feeling meanwhile there is this young gungho Commander of a Singapore warship the the RSS Battleaxe guarding the territorial waters off Pedro Branca, also on his mind is his impending divorce where he is going to lose his HDB flat to his wife all because he had a one night stand. This is nagging him constantly, meaning he is not in the correct frame of mind.

Along comes KD Hang Lekir, a corvette on orders by the Defence Minister to permanently station it in the waters off Pedro Branca, due to the failure of the water talks. Guns and radar are on 'active stations'. The Singapore Commander gets a report that there is a signature on the radar of a fast moving large vessel, orders 'action stations'. The commander of Hang Lekir, gets a report that guns are locked onto his vessel, he orders counter measures and simultaneously ranges on the Singapore vessel. RSS Battleaxe's Commander misinterprets this as hostile action and elevates status to 'battle stations'. Commander of RMN Hang Lekir is on the hotline to fleet operations, which in turn turns to MINDEF, Chief of Defence Forces, responds placing all forces on a high alert.

JERNAS area air defence system. JERNAS is the only land-based air defence system designed to defeat the most severe threats, including cruise missiles and smart munitions.The AMS Blindfire weapon control radar provides JERNAS with an all-weather day and night capability. Fast acquisition and extremely accurate tracking of the target and the missile in flight give the air defence system unique dual engagement capability. With pencil beamwidth, high power, adaptive wide-band frequency agility, very low side lobes and smart digital processing, the radar is immune to all forms of jamming.

What does this mean ? It means jets are scrambled to have an air defence capability, with jets on tarmacs waiting to take off. These events are monitored by Singapore's E2C-Hawkeye aircraft, they alert Singapore's MINDEF. Meanwhile the drama on the high seas is unfolding, commander of KD Hang Lekir is told not to engage unless fired upon, the RSS Battleaxe is a FAC(Fast Attack Craft) with 20mm Bofors opens fire on KD Hang Lekir, this corvette, one of the most modern is South East Asia can simultaneously engage targets under the sea, on the surface and air. The commander, to defend a strategic asset from being destroyed and who also who wants to become rear-admiral before the age of 38, orders launch of a ship to ship missile. The RSS Battleaxe is no more. The wife of the Commander of RSS Battleaxe will definitely get the HDB flat. All these is observed by the E2C and reported.

MINDEF gets radio stations to announce codes for mobilization. The Malaysian electronic counter counter measures unit gets to pick up this information and passes it along. Lee Hsien Loong gets on the hotline and calls Najib accusing him of sinking a Singapore warship, Najib retorts that it was the Singapore ship that fired first. They continue arguing. Meanwhile, the strategic division is ordered to move to Johore, which it has rehearsed countless times times and played the game against a Southern enemy. Malaysian airdefence radars (Marconi- Martello Systems) and AWACs picks up fast moving aircraft intruding into Malaysian airspace.

All jets at Butterworth, Kuantan,Gong Kedak and Subang are scrambled, whilst the jets in East Malaysia are placed on alert, with Malaysian AWACs monitoring airspace in Taiwan and areas south of the Borneo island, for Singapore's reserve jet fighters coming in to join the fight. Simultaneously looking for Singapore's airtankers to be destroyed, before they refuel the RSAF jets coming in from Australia, Taiwan and the US. Many aircraft go down, Singapore's and Malaysia's, there is air parity. Malaysian fighters manage to penetrate into Singapore airspace and destroy 2 KC-130 tankers and 2 Stratotankers diminishing Singapore's air to air refuelling capability.

Malaysian naval ships and submarines scatter to sink and destroy Singapore's navy and merchant navy, concentrating near the straits of Tebrau, as there is air parity. The airborne brigade is ordered to conduct a linkup operation along the Mersing, Layang-Layang, JB line. The Army units in JB are ordered to defend JB, the Tebrau straits is flooded with napalm, benzine, and crude at likely footholds for the Singaporeans.

Singapore's Guards regiments which are heliborne will have to reckon with the Malaysian airborne at all strategic routes which it has to secure for it's armoured formations along three axis Kota Tinggi-Jemaluang-Mersing, Layang-Layang-Rengam-Keluang and JB-Air Hitam-Yong Peng with it's antiquated AMX and Centurions. The defence of these axis has been done numerous times by Malaysian troops on exercises. Meanwhile special forces snipers armed with 12.7 mm Barret rifles will go into hides to take out Singaporean armour at a range of 1.5 km with armour piercing rounds. Infantry taking up positions in strong points with AGLs and anti-tank weapons.

PT-91 Twardy Main Battle Tank. The Singaporean antiquated AMX (so called upgraded)and Centurion tanks will have to contend with this.The PT-91 MBT is equpped with the Fire Control System consisting of Gunner Station. It basis on modernized TPDK-1 sight for day channel and optionally passive PCN-A sight or thermal imagine sight, which create night fighting capability. The fire solutions are calculated by the ballistic, digital computer which processes mixed set of information generated by set of sensors and input manually by the gunner.

Air defence batteries are deployed, with shoulder held anti-aircraft missiles (Starburst systems, Iglas and Jernas). The Malaysian armoured and mechanized formations will race to link up with the airborne. Singapore needs to cross the straits to get its troops across, heavy casualties are inflicted, Malaysians fall back to conduct a delaying and mobile defence, all these are covered by air and artillery.

Malaysians have trained year in year out to march in full combat gear over 40 kms in under 10 hours and construct fire trenches with overhead protection within 8 hours. Laying of obstacles comes next, it is actually a breeze considering the terrain one is familiar with. Independent and co-ordinated tank hunting parties will be sent out. The Singapore advance bogs down at Muar. The US cannot come running, as it is bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq. Guerilla war by Malaysian units are conducted at the rear echelons of the already very stretched Singapore supply lines, who also face a very hostile populace.

Malaysia signs deal worth $48 million with Russia's Rosoboronexport to purchase its IGLA short-range air defense system.

Defending a Small Nation and all about Malaysia.

Its probably at this stage that the diplomats, and the UN will come into play.This is the otherside of a war scenario, to be more detailed will make this long and probably boring. There is always another side to a coin.