SINGAPORE - A prominent academic from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy had his permanent residency cancelled on Friday (Aug 4), for working with a foreign government to influence Singapore's foreign policy and public opinion here.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that Huang Jing and his wife Shirley Yang Xiuping, who are United States citizens, will be permanently banned from Singapore, in what is the first publicly known case of its kind in nearly two decades.
The ministry said in a statement that Dr Huang, 60, has been identified as "an agent of influence of a foreign country" who worked with intelligence organisations and agents from that country. It did not name the country.
Dr Huang was Director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation and Lee Foundation Professor on US-China relations at the LKY School, which is part of the National University of Singapore (NUS), and his views on China and foreign policy issues were regularly sought by organisations and the media.
"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 the ministry.
"This amounts to subversion and foreign interference in Singapore's domestic politics. Huang's continued presence in Singapore, and that of his wife, are therefore undesirable."
The Controller of Immigration has cancelled the couple's entry and re-entry permits, the ministry said.
It noted that Ms Yang was aware of her husband using his position to advance a foreign country's agenda.
Dr Huang had engaged prominent and influential Singaporeans, providing them with what he claimed was "privileged information" about the foreign country to influence their opinions in favour of that country, the ministry said.
It added that he also recruited others to aid his operations.
The ministry cited how Dr Huang gave supposedly "privileged information" to a senior member of the LKY School, so it could be passed on to the Singapore Government.
"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," it said.
"The clear intention was to use the information to cause the Singapore Government to change its foreign policy."
However, the Government declined to act on the information.
Dr Huang told the South China Morning Post that he had been notified by the government but denied the allegations.
“It’s nonsense to identify me as ‘an agent of influence’ for a foreign country,” he told the newspaper. “And why didn’t they identify which foreign country they’re referring to? Is it the US or China?”
He is still in Singapore, and said he would seek help from his lawyer and the US embassy here.
“My family and my home are all here. I have property in Singapore, too. How can they treat me like this? If they have evidence, they should take me to court,” he said, adding that he had not been given a deadline to leave.
Elaborating later, Dr Huang said he was asked to go to the ICA at 11am on Friday, and that he was told he had seven days to appeal to MHA.
He added that he was having dinner at Grand Shanghai Restaurant in Havelock Road with his wife and a friend when someone called her with the news.
The Government has in the past taken action against individuals who had carried out subversive activities for foreign countries.
In 1998, the Internal Security Department arrested four Singapore citizens. Three of them were agents for a foreign intelligence service, and one of them recruited the fourth person to collect intelligence on and to subvert a local community organisation.
Dr Huang had lectured at Harvard University from 1993 to 1994.
He has published numerous articles, book chapters and columns and opinion pieces - including in ST and Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao - on Chinese elite politics, China's development strategy, its military and foreign policy, and US-China relations, among other topics.
He was director of the Asia Studies Program and associate professor of political science at Utah State University from 1994 to 2004, and was granted tenure in 1998.
He was a Shorenstein Fellow at Stanford University from 2002 to 2003, and became Senior Fellow at the John Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution from 2004 to 2008. Various foundations have also awarded him grants and fellowships.
Currently, he serves as a senior overseas economic analyst for Xinhua News Agency, and is an overseas advisor to the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies.
He also sits on various boards, including Keppel Land, the Steering Committee of the NUS Research Institute in Suzhou, the Fujitsu-JAIMs Foundation Japan, and Chinese energy firm Wasion Group.
He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Sichuan University, his Masters degree in history from Fudan University, and his doctorate from Harvard University.
A NUS spokesman said it had been informed of the ministry's findings that Dr Huang used his senior position to advance the agenda of a foreign country at Singapore's expense.
"This is a matter of serious concern, and LKYSPP is cooperating fully with MHA," 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. As this matter relates to national security, the University is unable to comment on the details of the case," she added.
The spokesman added that in light of the ministry's findings and actions, Dr Huang has been suspended without pay with immediate effect.
"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," she said.
Correction Note: In an earlier version of the story, we reported that Dr Huang had lectured at Harvard University from 2013 to 2014. He has clarified that he lectured there from 1993 to 1994.