Book / Publication · Published 21 June 2017
Following our recent publication assessing the African security sector’s potential contributions to the continent’s development, this Discussion Paper traces the under-examined role of Singapore’s defence forces in taking the South East Asian city-state from an impoverished and divided new nation in the mid-1960s to an economic powerhouse with a higher GDP per capita today than its former colonial power, the United Kingdom.
As explained by the author, Tan Feng Qin, Singapore’s perception of vulnerability and precariousness led it to prioritise the development of an indigenous military capacity, together with the technological means to sustain it. This paper examines the ways in which military development supported other forms of economic and social development in the country, through the institution of national service, the building of a robust defence industry, and the deployment of military manpower for civilian purposes. Arguing for a broader conception of the military’s role, it demonstrates the impact that the military as an institution has had on nation-building and national identity, skills development and technological innovation in Singapore.