SINGAPORE: A senior academic from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), Professor Huang Jing, has been identified as “an agent of influence of a foreign country,” announced the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday (Aug 4).
“He knowingly interacted with intelligence organisations and agents of the foreign country, and cooperated with them to influence the Singapore Government’s foreign policy and public opinion in Singapore,” said MHA in a news release, without naming the foreign country.
It added that Prof Huang, who is LKYSPP’s Lee Foundation Professor on US-China relations, gave what he claimed was “privileged information” about the foreign country to prominent and influential Singaporeans, with the aim of influencing their opinions in favour of that country.
Among those who Prof Huang gave the “privileged information” to was a senior member of LKYSPP, said MHA, without naming the person. LKYSPP is a postgraduate school of the National University of Singapore.
“The information was duly conveyed by that senior member of the LKYSPP to very senior public officials who were in a position to direct Singapore’s foreign policy. The clear intention was to use the information to cause the Singapore Government to change its foreign policy,” said MHA.
“However, the Singapore Government declined to act on the ‘privileged information.’”
According to his profile on the school’s website, Prof Huang, who is an American citizen, has published extensively on subjects such as US-China relations, Chinese elite politics, China’s development strategy and foreign policy, Sino-Japanese relations and security issues in the Asia Pacific.
Apart from the numerous journal articles he has written, Prof Huang, who was director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation, also edited books on subjects like China’s Taiwan policy, the South China Sea dispute and China-India relations.
His opinion pieces and columns have appeared in newspapers including Global Times, The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao. He has also appeared on Channel NewsAsia.
“Huang used his senior position in the LKYSPP to deliberately and covertly advance the agenda of a foreign country at Singapore’s expense. He did this in collaboration with foreign intelligence agents,” said MHA. “This amounts to subversion and foreign interference in Singapore’s domestic politics.”
According to MHA, Prof Huang recruited others to aid his operations. It added that his wife, Shirley Yang Xiuping, was aware of what he was doing.
The Singapore Permanent Residency of Prof Huang and his wife – both US citizens – have been cancelled by Singapore authorities.
“Huang’s continued presence in Singapore, and that of his wife, are therefore undesirable. Both will be permanently banned from re-entering Singapore,” said MHA.
US Embassy Singapore spokesperson Camille Dawson told Channel NewsAsia on Saturday that they are "aware" of the MHA press release and subsequent media reports. "We have no further information to share due to privacy considerations."
ALLEGATIONS ARE "NONSENSE": PROF HUANG
Prof Huang, who is reportedly still in Singapore, has denied the allegations against him.
He told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Friday that it's "nonsense" to identify him as an "agent of influence" for a foreign country.
"And why didn’t they identify which foreign country they’re referring to? Is it the US or China?” Prof Huang said.
Prof Huang added that he would seek help from his lawyer and the US embassy in Singapore, and that he has not been given a deadline to leave the country, according to the SCMP report.
"MATTER OF SERIOUS CONCERN": NUS
The National University of Singapore (NUS) said Prof Huang has been suspended without pay with immediate effect.
"This is a matter of serious concern," said an NUS spokesperson. "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."
The spokesperson also said that Prof Huang’s employment at NUS is conditional on the necessary permits for working in Singapore. "As these permits have been cancelled, we would not be able to continue with his employment.”
The statement added that LKYSPP is cooperating fully with MHA. "As this matter relates to national security, the university is unable to comment on the details of the case," said the spokesperson.
Prof Huang also sits on the board of many organisations, including Singapore's Keppel Land. When contacted for comment, a Keppel Land spokesperson said: "We have just been alerted to this development and will be looking into the matter."