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Title: The British intelligence community in Singapore, 1946-1959 : local security, regional co-ordination and the Cold War in the Far East
Author: Shaw, Alexander Nicholas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 2180
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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Singapore was the stronghold of British intelligence in the Far East during the Cold War. The small city-colony played host to a diverse range of British intelligence organisations including regional outposts of MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), specialist technical intelligence centres, open source reporting centres and the police Special Branch. These intelligence outfits operated across three levels: the local, the regional and the national. This thesis investigates the British intelligence milieu in Singapore, focusing upon its organisation and status; its working culture and operations; and its impact or influence. In so doing, the thesis interrogates to what extent we can speak of a definable British intelligence 'community' in Singapore during the early Cold War. It concludes that there were instead two distinct communities: a local intelligence community, and a regional-national one. Nevertheless, there were two core similarities. Security intelligence was at the forefront of both communities as the most appropriate response to the nature of the Cold War both within Singapore and the Southeast Asian region. Secondly, both intelligence communities played a significant role not just in shaping official perceptions but as avenues for covert policy implementation. At the regional level, intelligence activities enabled Britain to fight the Cold War through clandestine measures, fulfilling the key policy goal of providing containment without (extensive) commitments. Locally, security intelligence was a major driving force in the engagement between the Singapore government, communist 'terrorists' and anti-colonial nationalists. This thesis is not just about British intelligence in the Cold War. It also provides original insight into Singapore's transition to self-government between 1946 and 1959 by focusing on the crucial role played by Special Branch. Intelligence services were vital in ensuring that Singapore was rendered 'safe' for decolonisation, and their activities indicate continuity between colonial and post-colonial government in Singapore.
Supervisor: Ball, Simon ; Cathcart, Adam Sponsor: White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities ; Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available