Adam Matthew publishes new Foreign Office Files collection, drawn from The National Archives, UK

27 April 2022

Published product

Comprising government papers drawn from The National Archives, UK, the second module of Foreign Office Files for Southeast Asia, titled Foundations of Economic Growth and Industrialisation 1967-1980, charts a period of immense change and development across the region.

There is extensive coverage of authoritarian regimes in the Philippines and Indonesia under Presidents Marcos and Suharto respectively; the establishment of Singapore as a major world port, and political and racial tensions. 

‚ÄúThe events of the decades covered by this module occurred against the backdrop of the decision by the British in 1967 to withdraw their armed forces from military bases in Southeast Asia by 1971. This significant shift in Britain‚Äôs role and influence in the region, its administration and its impact, is charted in the files in this collection. A number of documents also offer commentary on changing political relations between southeast Asian nations and other countries including the UK, USSR and the United States. As legacies of empire are more closely studied, these documents offer a lens through which to consider the changing role of Britain across the world in the 20th century.‚ÄĚ

Clare Mence, Senior Publisher, Adam Matthew Digital

Comprising FCO 15 and 25 class government papers the collection follows chronologically from Section I. The material spans the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore covering the key themes of economic growth, trading relations, industrial development and conflict.

‚ÄėThese files offer fascinating insights into British policy towards the region, at a time when Indonesian President Sukarno memorably described  Southeast Asia as ‚Äúthe focal point of world contradictions‚ÄĚ. We see Britain struggling to find a regional and global role in the wake of the 1968 decision to withdrawal all military forces east of Aden. The often blunt handwritten annotations by London-based diplomats on the reports filed by their embassies reveal feisty debates and differences of view. Some of the materials are utterly compelling reading.‚Äė

Professor Duncan McCargo, University of Leeds

Foreign Office Files for Southeast Asia, Section II: Foundations of Economic Growth and Industrialisation, 1967-1980 forms part of Archives Direct and is cross-searchable with existing collections on the platform such as The Nixon Years, 1969-1974, Confidential Print: Middle East, 1839-1969 and Foreign Office Files for China, 1919-1980.