Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from Today Online Ooi Boon Keong

When queried by media reporters over which country, US or China, did accused “foreign agent of influence” Professor Huang Jing work for, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was not able to explain. Senior academic from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), Professor Huang Jing, had his Singapore permanent residency removed on Friday (Aug 4), after MHA alleged that they allegedly found evidences of the China-born US citizen “influencing” government foreign policies.

Numerous questions surfaced from MHA’s charge and a thinking population should be asking instead of believing a dictatorship under Lee Hsien Loong, who recently sent his family members into exile:

1) US or China? For who, against who?
The white elephant in the room, and the MHA’s refusal to give even an indication greatly substantiated Professor Huang Jing’s innocence. Who did Professor Huang Jing work for, and work against? Why then is there not even a single criminal charge by MHA since they have “evidence”? MHA’s failure to even to come out with a diplomatic response created greater distrust between US, China and Singapore. (As a note, just a few read on Professor Huang’s articles would get an idea that the professor prefers Singapore to side with China for economic cooperation than the US – or at least the Trump administration.)

2) Is a headlines-grabbing expulsion even the right thing to do?
Let’s assume the MHA has been correct that the professor is indeed a spy working for a foreign country, a high profile expulsion like this would only aggravate the host country he is working for. MHA is clearly reckless and not diplomatically-astute, a subtle downgrade and isolation of Professor Huang Jing would have made a better approach and send a stronger signal of deterrence to the offensive country.

3) Dubious method of influence
MHA claimed that the professor shared “privileged information” to a specific colleague to influence their opinions. Given Professor Huang Jing’s position as an academic, it is only natural he may obtain such information from his exchanges with foreign representatives. Henceforth, sharing such information constitutes an opinion from an academic standpoint, and it is being pointed out that the professor did not expressed his opinions in government-level policy discussions. To take responsibility for a listener’s (especially when one is learned, “prominent” and “influential” as MHA said) interpretation of the information provided is ludicrous.

4) PM Lee conducting political flushing
For all we know, Professor Huang Jing’s expulsion is part of a political attempt to cleanse the dictatorship of critics. With ample time to the 2020 general election, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has recently conducted “political flushing” getting rid of his opponents, through the abuse of his premiership powers and control over his former personal lawyer-turned-Attorney General, Lucien Wong. Having been installed by the dictator Prime Minister in less than a year, Attorney General Lucien Wong has sent out more high profile letter of demand to political opponents than his predecessors. Just this week alone, PM’s nephew Li Shengwu was charged for contempt of court, while a lawyer, Eugene Thuraisingam, who often fights the mandatory death penalty law was also charged for contempt. Professor Huang Jing could be a collateral victim, given how he openly oppose the Trump’s administration and Lee Hsien Loong’s pro-US stance.

5) Putting LKYSPP in its place
LKYSPP has recently been taking headlines for opposing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In April, LKYSPP school dean Donald Low mocked Law Minister K Shanmugam for wanting to “reflect public opinion” on criminal punishments. A month later in June, former chief economist with GIC and LKYSPP academic Yeoh Lam Keong criticised the Singapore Police for their handling of the Little India riot. In the same month, Professor Kishore Mahbubani slammed Lee Hsien Loong for “squandering our hard work”. Another LKYSPP professor, Dr Yap Kwong Weng, joined in to hit the new PAP administration. PM Lee Hsien Loong clearly had enough of LKYSPP’s “nonsense” and he is now kicking out the undesirables. While he could not touch Singaporeans like Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Professor Huang Jing, a Singaporean PR, makes an easy target.

It is hard for Singaporeans to take the words of the Ministry of Home Affairs without questioning when the government itself is not sufficiently credible. According to state propaganda media, the ministry’s words are absolute but Singaporeans need not apply similar servitude taking in their every word. A thinking populace is one courageous enough to challenge authority, and not those pseudo-intellectuals going round in circles pretending to be thinking and then apologising for offending the regime. LKYSPP may very well be silenced after this episode, but I believe Singaporeans can do better than these spineless intellectuals.

STR Editor
Alex Tan