After the post-Cold War era, there are quite clear observations that many countries, other than Singapore, in Southeast Asia are increasing their arm acquisitions in the stake of modernisation of each individual’s arm. For example, looking at the complexities of Spratly Islands dispute at South China Sea, countries like Vietnam and Philippines had made public announcement of the procurements of new naval assets like corvettes, submarines and frigates. Not forgetting China, their recent media news on their first new air craft carrier. All these are news announced by the various arm forces in the light of bringing their military to another generation with better networked capability and also sustainability. In this essay, I will attempt to (1) define the definitions of Arms race with reference to Colin Grays and a simple deduction to determine whether, both Singapore and Malaysia, are in an arms race. I also (2) outline the defence policy that both countries have adopted supported with some examples of the arm acquisition. (3) In modernization of arms forces in the recent years, I will outline the concept that both countries are embarking on. I will mention (4) some of the reasons for the arms acquisitions.
Definition of Arms Race.
Many scholars have attempted to define arms race. Among them, the widely accepted definition is by Colin Grays, who described arms race as having four basic conditions. 1. There must be two or more parties, conscious of their antagonism. 2. They must structure their arms forces with attention to the probable effectiveness of the forces in combat with, or as a deterrent to, the other arms race participants. 3. They must compete in terms of quantity (men, weapons) and/ or quality (men, weapons, organisation, doctrine, deployment). 4. There must be rapid increases in quantity and/or improvements in quality. Under the above listed conditions, this cannot be classified as an arms race between Singapore and Malaysia. Loo mentioned in one of his commentary that “An arms race is almost universally regarded as a very rare phenomenon in international politics”. The increase in the arms acquisition is not an arms race but is more for enhancing the security arm to ensure constant economic growth.
Purpose of Arms Acquisitions by both Singapore and Malaysia. Primarily in arms acquisition, a state will look ahead by about ten to twenty years. Based on this, they will work out a defence master plan and from here; they will embark the journey to do acquisitions for the state. The defence master plan is assessed based on the different threats, both from internal and external, that is on-going. Some examples are the “desire to combat piracy, smuggling and drug trafficking and the growing interest in monitoring and protecting EEZs and fishing areas” The arm acquisition by both Singapore and Malaysia are as such: (1) Singapore acquired arms or weapon systems mainly for sea lanes security, forward strategic depth against external threats; (2) Malaysia acquired arms or weapons systems mainly for protection of offshore resources and assets, enforcement of territorial claims, internal security and conventional warfare capabilities. And the additional contribution to the arms acquisition is the presence of the non-conventional threats in the recent years. Common to both countries, in order to the maintenance of sea lines of communications (SLOC), acquisition of maritime capabilities provides ample justifications for the acquisition. The acquisition is to allow both Singapore’s and Malaysia’s armed forces to better enhance their defence to ensure the security of the SLOC either through individual effort or to joint forces concept. The securities of the trading ships that are sailing through the waters are safe. This will thereafter ensure economic security and prosperity....