Dickson Yeo’s PhD supervisor was expelled academic Huang Jing, says Bilahari Kausikan

Professor Huang Jing had been expelled from Singapore in 2017 "for being a Chinese agent of influence". PHOTO: ST FILE

Yeo Jun Wei, also known as Dickson Yeo, studied at National Junior College from 1998 to 1999 and then went on to secure a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication and media studies from Oklahoma City University.

He proceeded to do a Master of Arts in South-east Asian studies at the National University of Singapore from 2009 to 2011, before heading to the International University of Japan in Niigata for a Master of Arts in international relations.

In 2015, he enrolled for a PhD at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) in Singapore. Between June 2016 and January last year, while still at the LKYSPP, Yeo visited Beijing as a researcher at Peking University's National Institute of Strategic Communication, according to his profile on LinkedIn which appeared to have been taken down early yesterday.

Yeo's time at the LKYSPP overlapped with that of one of its former professors, Huang Jing, who was expelled from Singapore in 2017 "for being a Chinese agent of influence", retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said in a Facebook post yesterday.

"It is not unreasonable to assume he was recruited or at least talent spotted by the MSS (China's Ministry of State Security) there," Mr Kausikan said.

In another post, Mr Kausikan said that Mr Huang was Yeo's PhD supervisor until 2017 when the professor was expelled.

In Jan 2018, Yeo set up Resolute Consulting, a political consultancy which he admitted in United States court documents was a front for his activities.

On LinkedIn, he described it as a business venture "providing analysis and political economy risk consultancy work for Eurasian clients".

He said it was a joint venture between himself and clients based in Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and New Delhi.

On LinkedIn, Yeo also listed himself as a doctoral fellow "working on the foreign policy of smaller strategic states in light of US-China competition" at The George Washington University in Washington from January to July last year.

US court documents said this was the period during which he sought to recruit individuals to provide China with sensitive information. He was arrested when he returned to the US capital in November last year.

LKYSPP's dean, Professor Danny Quah, in an e-mail to faculty and students, said Yeo applied for and was granted a leave of absence from the school's PhD programme.

"This incident is specific to Mr Yeo as an individual. No faculty or other students at our school are known to be involved," he wrote.

"The matter is one of US national security, and the school has no further knowledge on details of the case beyond what is publicly available," said Prof Quah.

In a statement last night, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it is aware of Yeo's guilty plea and is "rendering the appropriate consular assistance, as required".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 26, 2020, with the headline Dickson Yeo’s PhD supervisor was expelled academic Huang Jing, says Bilahari Kausikan. Subscribe