Singapore and Malaya were of major strategic importance during the early years of the Cold War. Malaya was a major producer of tin and natural rubber, which were exported through the port of Singapore. Great Britain operated on Singapore its biggest air and naval base east of Suez. Control of the straits of Singapore and Malacca allowed an easy transfer of Western battleships between the Pacific and the Middle East, through the Indian Ocean. In the 1950s, a British strategic plan, based on the occupation of southern Thailand at the level of the town of Songkhla, at the narrowest point of the Kra Isthmus, provided for the defense of the Malaya-Singapore area against an invasion from the north.

The...

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