Britain's colonial rule in Malaya ended in 1957 with the formation of a Malayan Federation, later to be called the Federation of Malaysia. But it was not until 1971 that the British military finally pulled out. Political and racial tensions threatened the Federation's survival early on. The battle against communist terrorists smoldered until 1960. Relations with Sukarno's Indonesia were tense, erupting in the Indonesian Confrontation from 1962 to 1965. In 1965, Singapore became an independent nation. British troops, engaged under the Anglo-Malayan Defence Agreement, guarded the security of Malaysia and Singapore in the early years of independence.
Alexandra Military Hospital continued to serve the British army as the "principal medical establishment for Commonwealth forces in the Far -East." At the height of the Indonesian Confrontation, 90,000 troops were stationed in Singapore and Malaysia. By April 1969, however, there were 73,000, and a year later only 43,500 servicemen and civilians remained. In mid-1971, the last troops returned to Britain and the doors of the Alexandra Military Hospital were closed.
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Alexandra Hospital as it appears today.
Thus ended the 33-year military history of the hospital. No longer did its grounds ring with the shouts of early morning reveille and the thunder of military trucks. No longer did the thud of military boots echo in its corridors and British accents call from the operating theatre, the canteen and the football field. A new era of civilian service to a young republic had begun.
Although there was talk of transforming the former military hospital into a university hospital for the students of the National University of Singapore, the Ministry of Health decided to re-open it as a general hospital serving the western sector of Singapore. The hospital was seen as a welcome addition to medical services in the country. Though more than 30 years old, it was still regarded in 1970 as "the most modern [hospital] of its kind in South-East Asia, containing many specialties not found elsewhere."