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Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Volume 38 Number 8. 1975



Singapore's economy is that of a colonial metropolis, dependent for its survival upon handling raw materials from a large primary-producing hinterland and manufactured goods from more industrialised countries. In this respect, it plays a vital entrepot role for Malaysia and Indonesia on one end and Japan, Western Europe, the United States, and Great Britian on the other. Imports from Malaysia and Indonesia — mainly rubber, minerals, timber and palm-oil — account for about 40% of Singapore's total import trade, while imports from Japan, Western Europe, the United States and Great Britian— almost entirely manufactured goods and components for assembly — comprise 31 % of all imports.

Firstly, while Singapore is still the entrepot centre of the Malay world emphasis on Britain and West Malaysia as entrepot partners has declined, while that on East Malaysia, Indonesia and the United States and Japan has increased.

Secondly, while Singapore is still a processing centre for 'traditional' primary materials gathered from the surrounding region — rubber, palm oil, and timber — the Republic is assuming a new role as one of S.E. Asia's main oil refining centres — if not the most important oil-refining state in the region.

Thirdly, once the centre of British agency-house activities in the area, Singapore has now become the regional headquarters for large American and Japanese combines and the strategic operations base for the 'new wave' of Western and Japanese investment in S.E. Asian mineral exploitation concentrated in and around Indonesia.

Fourthly, in the field of manufacturing, foreign investment has given to Singapore three relatively new roles: as an assembly centre for industrial goods imported for the regional market, as a servicing and repair centre for long distance and regional shipping and air transport; and as a low-cost production unit in a vast international business system.

Finally, Singaore is being rapidly developed as a transit-point in the international tourist network.

The Republic's relationship with its Malaysian and Indonesian hinterland remains a colonial one, but the structure of colonial influence is changing: from a British and Dutch domain the Malay world is being transformed into an American and Japanese one.