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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8788

STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON. P.J KEATING THE FALL OF SINGAPORE

Photo of Keating, Paul

Keating, Paul

Period of Service: 20/12/1991 to 11/03/1996

More information about Keating, Paul on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/01/1993

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 8788

T1EL3:. ian. 93 14: 53 No. 018 P. 01/ 02
STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE HON. P. C. KEATING
THE FALL OF SINGAPORE
in recent days the media has carried stories based on
reports prepared by unidentified British military
officials and endorsed by General Sir Archibald Wavell
years ago.
Some of these reports suggest that AustraliSan troops were
in some way responsible for the fall of Singapore, others
contain allegations that a number of Australian troops
behaved in ways which, if true, would bring discredit on
themselves and their country and reflect on the 17,000
Australian men and women who served on the Malaya
Peninsula and Singapore.
It is important that our history be discussed and that
the truth be told. We should not seek to hide from it.
In this context it is a pity if it is true that these
reports were suppressed 20 years ago in an effort to
appease Australian feelings when Britain was seeking to
enter the Common-Market.
In fact, the substance of the reports appears to confirm
what has long been known: that Singapore's defences were
inadequately prepared, and the British Government knew
it. It was certainly not Australian troops or British
troops but British' aQlicy which led to the fall of
Singapore. It is unlikely that the other allegations can ever be
satisfactorily tested.
But blaming young soldiers for the failures of
politicians an( generals will not find much support in
this or any other country.
TEL

2-
Whatever the alleged behavior of individual soldiers in
the last days of Singapore, the fact remains that
Australian, British and other Commonwealth troops were
placed in an impossible position.
overwhelmingly, they served with courage and distinction
in appalling circumstances not of their making.
That there was an attempt in this instance to saddle
young Australian soldiers with the responsibility for the
British Empire's most humiliating debacle is beyond the
bounds of decency and credibility.
CANBERRA/ SYDNEY
January 13, 1993 TEL 13. Jan. 93 14: 53 No. 018 P. 02/ 0.'

Transcript 8788