The fact that Mahathir and Lee Kuan Yew had never seen eye to eye is ….. well, legendary.

So the dispute continues …… this time based on their respective books released about the same time:

  • Dr M: Operation Malaysia – Conversations with Mahathir Mohamed 

  • Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going



The point that caught my attention was Mahathir’s belittling of Singapore’s fearfulness of being invaded by Malaysia …… just because LKY had asserted that the city state was vulnerable to the possibility that “Malaysia can besiege you …. and you’ll be dead”!

Mahathir’s interpretation of the word ‘besiege’ is too literal, I feel.

The threats to Singapore may be more ‘bread & butter’ stuff rather than military invasion …. and I’ll tell you why.

It was quite clear that when Singapore was expelled in 1965, many UMNO ultras had hoped that Singapore would crumble shortly thereafter …. forcing LKY to beg to be allowed back into the fold.

Some may even recall that attempts may have been made to expedite this ……… one of which was the WATER REQUIREMENTS of Singapore …… that was being supplied from Malaysia.

These kind of concerns may explain to a large degree why Singapore’s defence budget has ‘dwarfed’ that of Malaysia’s up till today!

I do recall reading many years’ ago a foreign defence journal analysing Singapore’s possible strategic/military response should Malaysia shut off the water supply ……. Singapore would send in its army and control southern Johore!



Fiction or possibility?

But the siege mentality of Singapore appears quite understandable …… when one considers the ‘domino theory’ threat then from Indo-China …… to the left leaning Indonesian leadership then that aspired for ‘Big Brother’ status …… and down to a jealous neighbour up north!

Yes, Mahathir is quite right when he alluded that Malaysia would win a war against Singapore ….. because (he claims) the war is ultimately fought and won on the ground, not in the air!

BUT he forgot to mention that Singapore would have by then inflicted catasrophic casualties on the other side BEFORE succumbing …… and even then, the ‘succumbing’ scenario would have been hedged!



In the past, Singapore would only ‘succumb’ if Britain, Australia and New Zealand reneged on its military obligations under the 5 Power Defence Arrangements (others being Singapore & Malaysia).

The Defence Arrangement was not only against external threats …… but also from within (read: Malaysia)!

Currently, it is a completely different military scenario altogether with Singapore’s current military alliance being with the United States and possibly China in future.



Any way you put it, Singapore seems constantly one step ahead of Mahathir!

Maybe that’s why Mahathir sees Singapore as the sore tip of its finger ….. up till today!

Click HERE on Mahathir’s take on invading Singapore.


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