“Rabble we may be, but we are now a rabble in arms…” (The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress)

This is part two, read part one here.

In 1965 Singapore was tossed out into the cold by Malaysia. Few countries get their independence in such a fashion. They were on their own in a very bad neighborhood.

China was preparing to submerge into the “Cultural Revolution…” North Vietnam had started sending regular forces into South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Indonesia was running a border war against the Federation of Malaysia since 1963 (when Singapore was a part of the Federation) as it was coveting some of that new nation’s territory. Domestically, Singapore was subject to riots organized by (when not totally spontaneous) Communists, Malaysian agitators, religious fanatics, and those preaching racial hatred.

The British and Australians and New Zealanders had some forces in Singapore, but they were not much more than a “tripwire” force… and while friendly to Singapore, they had their own agendas. Most disturbingly, Britain’s days “East of Suez” were clearly numbered. Sooner or later Singapore was going to wind up on its own.

Singapore’s population did not see itself as a nation. They were a rabble… and if the country was to survive, they would have to somehow be incorporated into its defense. Some saw this concept as “…arming the factions…”

While some regular forces would be a necessity, a purely professional force was a danger to a newborn faction-ridden Parliamentary Republic with no democratic roots. Many infant “republics” lasted only until the first coup could be organized.

Lee Kuan Yew wanted conscription… as maximizing defensive potential, as a “firewall” against a military coup… and especially as a means of processing lads from very different racial and religious groups into an entity that would come out of the experience with a sense of nationhood.