Academic identified as agent of influence for foreign country, PR status revoked

A 60-year-old academic from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Huang Jing, has been permanently banned from Singapore by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), after it was announced that Dr Huang had worked with intelligence organisations and foreign agents to influence Singapore’s foreign policy and public opinion. 

In addition to Dr Huang and his wife, Shirley Yang Xiuping’s PR status being revoked on Aug 4, NUS has also suspended him without pay, reports The Straits Times.

A spokesman for the university told reporters that Dr Huang’s employment at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy was conditional on him having the essential work permits, which have been cancelled.

As such, Dr Huang can no longer work there. 

Said the spokesman:

“As these permits have been cancelled, we would not be able to continue with his employment.”

Dr Huang also held the position of director at the Centre on Asia and Globalisation and Lee Foundation Professor on US-China relations at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

The NUS spokesman added that the matter is of serious concern, and the school was cooperating fully with MHA in its investigation. 

She said:

“NUS does not tolerate such acts of foreign interference, even as we continue to value and uphold the diverse and international character of our university,”

 In relation to the incident, Bilveer Singh, from the NUS Department of Political Science, said that Singapore’s policy of openness to the global meant that ‘all kinds of elements’ could enter the country.

He also warned that the incident is 'the tip of the iceberg', and urged the country to be more vigilant. 

He said:

“Singapore is an influential soft power country - that is why people would want to influence us.

 "If we are not careful, we will unwittingly become victims of agents of influence who want to do us in.”

MP Vikram Nair, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Foreign Affairs said the case serves as a reminder, that 'espionage is a reality of life'.

 There was, however, a silver lining to the case.

The attempt to influence Singapore’s foreign policy could be seen as a back-handed compliment, or affirmation that Singapore’s opinion matter on the world stage, said the MP.