Why was the fall of Singapore such a shock?

Extract from a report on the fall of Singapore 1942

Catalogue ref: WO 208/1529

The general feeling of security evident in Malaya at this time was based on the view, expressed officially by specialists, that Japan was most unlikely to risk hostilities with Britain and the USA simultaneously. In addition, the rapid increase of the number of aerodromes naturally suggested an increase in the air strength and it was in fact, officially announced that an attempted Japanese Invasion from the sea would be frustrated by air action. This forecast may have been based on the date of arrival of extra aircraft before the Japanese could undertake landings on the East Coast.

Landings in this area were considered impracticable during the period of the N.E monsoon, i.e., from December to the end of February when the enemy seized KOTA BAHRU from the sea between the 6th and 10th December and launched at the same time a large scale offensive in the West Coast, our programme of preparation was seriously disorganized.

The local press, by consistently disparaging the quality of the enemy's air force, and otherwise showing a poor opinion of his general efficiency, helped to build up a dangerously complacent attitude and in Malaya ease and complacency flourish without outside assistance.

Though there were some specialists who distrusted this attitude; it is no exaggeration to say that from the Governor downwards, among civil servants and soldiers alike, there was a general belief that, at the best, there would probably be no war with Japan; at the worst, that they would make no move until February 1942.