The Five Power Defence Arrangement (FPDA) is a collective defence arrangement established by the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore in 1971, following Britain’s withdrawal of its military forces “East of the Suez”. The agreement was premised on the need for close cooperation in view of the indivisibility of Malaysia’s and Singapore’s defence. Under the agreement, the five signatories undertake to consult each other in the event of external aggression or threat against the Malay Peninsula or Singapore. The FPDA supersedes the 1957 Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement (AMDA; renamed Anglo-Malaysian Defence Agreement in 1963) that guaranteed Britain’s commitment to the external defence of Malaya (later Malaysia), and operates as a loose consultative coalition.
A communiqué on the formation of the FPDA was issued on 16 April 1971. The agreement came into effect on 1 November the same year after the cessation of the AMDA.
Under the ambit of the FPDA, an Integrated Air Defence System (IADS) was set up in Butterworth, Penang, on 1 September 1971 to protect the airspaces of Malaysia and Singapore. The FPDA also stipulated the formation of an Air Defence Council (ADC) to oversee the IADS and a Joint Consultative Council (JCC), which was a forum for senior officials to discuss defence matters. In 1994, the ADC and JCC were replaced by the FPDA Consultative Council . In the first decade of the FPDA, joint defence exercises were limited to air exercises, which later expanded to include land and sea exercises in the 1980s. In 2000, the IADS was renamed Integrated Area Defence System.
The FPDA provided a form of psychological deterrence at a time when the region was beset by tension and uncertainty caused by the Indonesian Confrontation (1963–1966) to oppose the formation of the Federation of Malaysia and the ongoing Vietnam War. It also helped repair relations between Singapore and Malaysia following tensions inflamed by Singapore’s troubled separation from the federation in 1965, and plays an important role in maintaining bilateral ties between both countries. For land-scare Singapore, the FPDA also provides valuable opportunities for the Singapore Armed Forces to train in the larger grounds of Australia and New Zealand.
1. Storey, I., Emmers, R., & Singh, D. (2011). Introduction. In I. Storey, R. Emmers & D. Singh (Eds.), Five Power Defence Arrangement at forty (p. xvi). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Call no.: RSING 355.03305 FIV.
2. Chin, K. W. (1974). The Five Power Defence Arrangements and AMDA: Some observations on the nature of an evolving partnership (pp. 17–18). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Call no.: RCLOS 355.031 CHI-[SEA].
3. Storey, Emmers & Singh, 2011, p. xvi.
4. Chin, 1974, p. 17.
5. Thayer, C. A. (2007, February). The Five Power Defence Arrangements: The quiet achiever. Security Challenges, 3(1), 81. Retrieved January 26, 2015, from Security Challenges website: http://www.securitychallenges.org.au/ArticlePDFs/vol3no1Thaser.pdf
6. Chin, 1974, p. 18.
7. Thayer, 2007, pp. 83–85.
8. Government of Singapore. (2001, November 1). FPDA 30th anniversary celebration. Retrieved January 26, 2015, from Ministry of Defence website: http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/2001/nov/01nov01_nr.print.img.html; Thayer, 2007, pp. 88
9. Ang, W. H. (1998, April–June). Five Power Defence Arrangements: A Singapore perspective. Pointer, 24(2). Retrieved January 26, 2015, from Ministry of Defence website: http://www.mindef.gov.sg/safti/pointer/back/journals/1998/Vol24_2/3.htm
10. Emmers, R. (2010). The role of the Five Power Defence Arrangements in the Southeast Asian security architecture (p. 8). Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. Call no.: RSING 355.03359 EMM; Ang, Apr–Jun 1988.
11. Ang, Apr–Jun1998.
The information in this article is valid as at 2015 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.