The Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) are a series of ongoing defence agreements between Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. First signed in 1971,1 the underlying rationale for the arrangements was that the defence of Singapore and Malaysia remained indivisible, and that the two countries still faced common potential threats in the region.2
Background In the early 1970s, the withdrawal of British troops from the region raised concerns that this would leave a defence gap that could be exploited by a hostile power. The solution sought was to give a deterrent message that any attack on Singapore or Malaysia would be successfully repelled with the assistance of British, Australian and New Zealand forces.3 The arrangements were facilitated by the 1970 election of the British conservative government, which decided to retain a reduced military presence in Singapore. From 1971, a residual force of Australian, New Zealand and United Kingdom troops with a strength of around 7,000 remained in Singapore under bilateral arrangements. However, Australia pulled out its infantry battalions in 1974, the remaining British troops left in 1976 and New Zealand withdrew its last battalion in 1989.4
Developments Singapore attaches great importance to the FPDA whereby the five nations collaborate on defence issues, notably through joint exercises. Although Singapore’s defence capabilities have advanced substantially since the 1970s, cooperation within the FPDA is still very much treasured by Singapore and the other members.5
As the world’s second-oldest military partnership, the FPDA continues to maintain regional stability in the region. In 2016, Britain revealed plans to increase the number of deployed troops, warships and warplanes throughout the nations in the region.6
Author Gabriel Tan
References 1. Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (1971). Five Power Defence Agreement (Australian Treaty Series 1971, no. 21). Retrieved 2016, September 30 from Australian Legal Information Institute website: www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/1971/21.html 2. Huxley, T. (2000). Defending the Lion City: The armed forces of Singapore. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, p. 37. (Call no.: RSING 355.3095957 HUX) 3. Chiang, M. (1990). Fighting fit: The Singapore Armed Forces. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 204. (Call no.: RSING 355.0095957 CHI) 4. Huxley, T. (2000). Defending the Lion City: The armed forces of Singapore. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, pp. 37–38. (Call no.: RSING 355.3095957 HUX) 5. Chiang, M. (1990). Fighting fit: The Singapore Armed Forces. Singapore: Times Editions, p. 205. (Call no.: RSING 355.0095957 CHI) 6. Chow, J. (2016, June 4). Five Power Defence Arrangements ‘more necessary than ever’ for regional stability: UK defence chief Fallion. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
The information on this page and any images that appear here may be used for private research and study purposes only. They may not be copied, altered or amended in any way without first gaining the permission of the copyright holder.