South-East Asia was of great importance to the world because of the natural resources that Malaya possessed. In 1939 Malaya produced 40 per cent of the worlds rubber and nearly 60 per cent of its tin, most of this went to America. When the non-aggression pact between Germany and Russia was signed in August 1939, the Malayan Communist Party started to impede the British war effort by its members striking, the Chinese Communist Party, who feared Japenese supremacy, had a firmer control and ordered its members to stop all its ant-British movements, strikes then slowly stopped.
Air Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, was sent to Singapore in November 1940 as Commander-in-chief of land and air forces in the Far East but he did not have any control over the navy, civil defence or administration. Indian and British infantry arrived in Singapore the last weeks of 1940 and in February 1941 the Australians sent a newly formed 8th Division, the next month India sent a second division. Brooke-Popham saw the problems of not having enough aircraft and tanks, he appealed for more but because of the losses at Dunkirk, his needs could not be met. In the summer of 1940 more troops arrived and because the Japanese were kept busy with China, Singapore got complacent and relaxed. There was no food rationing and the rubber and tin production was given priority over military training, the First World War equipment was used for defence by the volunteer corpse.
Co-operation between Britain and America early in 1941 revealed that Britain wanted American ships stationed at Singapore, but America wanted their fleet to be at Pearl Harbour and because Europe was of major importance no fleet was sent to Singapore. When in June 1941 Germany invaded Russia, Japan were released from the Russian threat from their rear, this left them free to look to the Far East for materials to boost their war effort. The Malayan Comminist Party now saw their chance to cause problems and the authorities, who did not want to provoke Japan, gave in and discouraged any ant-Japanese activities. In June 1941 America, Britain and the Netherlands East Indies froze Japanese assets,and this cut off her oil supplies. Japan was also deprived of her iron, bauxite and shipping interests in the peinsula. Vichy France provided bases in southern Indo-China for the Japanese which gave them a naval base 750 miles from Singapore and aifields only 300 miles from northern Malaya. Percival could not get reinforcements from Churchill who was now busy in the Middle East.