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Singapore’s rude awakening to independence after its sudden expulsion from the former Malaysian Federation in 1965 led to its transformation as one of the most strategic entrepôts in the world. The country’s limited territorial lands and scarce natural resources, combined with huge per capita income, high population density and complex ethnic mix, gave rise to its modern-day identity as a pragmatic trading state. To ensure its continued survival after gaining independence, the Singaporean government has been relentless in preserving and enhancing its shrinking defense space amid the geographic constraints that continue to threaten this space. The term ‘defense space’ refers to Singapore’s military (hard power) and non-military (soft power) capacity to defend its survival against the backdrop of a deeply-embedded security complex. However, the Hobbesian-like environment in which the country was unexpectedly thrust into has induced a siege mentality and vulnerability fetish among the Singaporean leaders and citizens alike.
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