A history of foreign interference in Singapore

Here's a recap of major incidents in Singapore from the 1970s to today.

1971

Shutting down of Eastern Sun newspaper

- Eastern Sun was an English language daily run by Mr Aw Kow, who started it with HK$6 million he borrowed from a communist news agency from China based in Hong Kong.

- The newspaper shut down in 1971 after its arrangement with the communist news agency was exposed by the Government.


The vacated editorial office of Eastern Sun. ST PHOTO: JUNID JUANI


The vacated editorial office of Eastern Sun. ST PHOTO: JUNID JUANI

Expulsion of foreign journalists

- Singapore expelled three foreign reporters working for the Singapore Herald newspaper, which had the then Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia as one of its primary investors.

- The paper was accused of spreading misinformation to stir feelings against Singapore’s national service policy.


More than 4,000 workers led by National Trades Union Congress leaders attended a rally against American interference in Singapore’s politics. PHOTO: ST FILE

1988

Expulsion of American diplomat Hank Hendrickson

- The US Embassy official had asked then Law Society president and former solicitor-general Francis Seow to lead a group of lawyers to contest elections against the People’s Action Party.

- Mr Seow later admitted that he visited the US State Department in Washington to meet Mr Hendrickson’s superior, who assured him of refuge in the US if he ran into difficulties with the Singapore Government.

2016

Comments on impounding of Terrex vehicles in Hong Kong

- Nine Singapore Armed Forces Terrex infantry carrier vehicles that were en route to Singapore from Taiwan were impounded at Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung Container Terminal.

- Several Singapore businessmen and former MPs expressed concern over strained ties with China and urged the Government not to anger Beijing. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore’s overall interests must come first.


Nine Terrex vehicles were impounded and stored at an open-air storage yard of a Hong Kong Customs storage facility in Tuen Mun. PHOTO: MINDEF


Nine Terrex vehicles were impounded and stored at an open-air storage yard of a Hong Kong Customs storage facility in Tuen Mun. PHOTO: APPLE DAILY

2017

Expulsion of academic Huang Jing

- An American citizen who was originally from China, Dr Huang Jing was with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy when he was accused of being in contact with foreign intelligence groups and agents.

- The Ministry of Home Affairs said he had used his position at the school to engage prominent and influential Singaporeans, tried to influence senior public officials in Singapore and change its foreign policy, as well as recruit others to help him.


PHOTO: ST FILE

2018

Experts warn of threat of foreign disinformation campaigns

- During consultations for Singapore’s fake news law, the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, experts warned of the risk of Singapore being a target for disinformation campaigns from abroad.

- The select committee report said “foreign disinformation has likely occurred and can be expected to occur in Singapore”, partly because of the country’s digital connectedness which allows foreign actors easy reach to wide segments of the population.


PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

2018-2019

Spike in critical comments during tensions with Malaysia

- Online posts on social media, made by anonymous accounts, sought to create an artificial impression of opposition to Singapore’s positions.

- They came amid disputes with Malaysia over airspace and maritime issues in late 2018 which strained bilateral relations.

2019

Report on China’s soft power efforts in Singapore

- An analysis by a US-based think-tank said the Communist Party of China and its united-front organisations were using clan and business associations in Singapore to align local residents with China’s interests.

- This was done through cultural exchanges, concerts, “hometown” visits, economic opportunities for young people and active lobbying by commerce chambers, among other things.


A Singapore Police Coast Guard vessel and a Malaysian government vessel (far left) in the waters between Singapore and Malaysia. PHOTO: ST FILE