PAP Government and Scholars

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This post is presented in 6 sections:

INTRO: Excerpts on Singapore scholarships
PART 1: Ministers’ Children and/or Government Relatives (Scholars)
PART 2: Scholar Scandals
PART 3: Foreign-Born Scholars in Government or Civil Service
PART 4: Reader Tip on Foreign-Born Scholars
PART 5: Additional Info

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INTRO: EXCERPTS on SINGAPORE SCHOLARSHIPS

1) “Singapore’s science and technology agency A*Star [draws] on taxpayers’ money to offer scholarships. . .”

Source: WSJ

2) A government economic review panel recommended a target of 150,000 foreign-born students by 2012 — more than double the 2005 figure of 66,000.

Source: Rapid Growth in Singapore’s Immigrant Population (2012)

3) The typical profile of our scholars has changed. The vast majority of scholars come from very wealthy family backgrounds. . .for the rich, the prestigious scholarship is more like a trophy.”

Source: Mr Wang

4) In 2008, the PSC revealed that 47% of the PSC scholarship recipients that year lived in HDB flats, and 53% lived in private housing. This is an over representation of private housing as up to 85% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats.

Source: NCMP Yee Jenn Jong

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5) In Barr and Skrbis’ book Constructing Singapore, they systemically outline the elite selection and formation process in Singapore. As Singaporeans move up the education system into secondary schools and junior colleges, the ‘scholars’ are continuously sorted from the ‘commoners’ and the would-be future elite are herded together into a small number of elite institutions. The best are offered the coveted Public Service Commission Scholarships, Singapore Armed Forces Scholarships and those at the top of the pyramid of public service would then be absorbed into the elite Administrative Service and made mandarins.

Ho Khai Leong [concedes] that the pervasive extent of state socialization has nurtured a cookie-cutter generation of leaders with relatively similar political outlook cut out from the same mould.

Source: Examining Meritocracy & Elitism in Singapore (Soh Yi Da; 2013)

6) Concerns have been raised among parliamentarians and members of the public that foreign students may be depriving Singaporeans of university places, and that taxpayers have to subsidize their fees.

Source: Asian Universities: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Challenges (2004)

7) “EACH YEAR ABOUT $360 MILLION IS SPENT ON FOREIGN STUDENTS. . .the PSC spends about $400,000 to send each scholarship recipient overseas.”

Source: Act for Singapore + AsiaOne

8) This is absurd. Government scholarships are funded by taxpayers’ money and should be channeled where it is needed most.

Source: Hsien-Hui Tong (2014)

9) These “foreign talent” students [are] “hand-picked” by the officials of Singapore’s Ministry of Education after being put through written tests and interviews.

Source: Privilege, Prejudice, Predicament: “PRC Scholars” in Singapore (Yang P., 2014)

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Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean pinning the rank epaulette on his son Eng Siang’s uniform. Source: ST

10) Surely, as top-dollar ministers, these fathers should be going to their colleagues to say:

“Hey! Thank you for thinking so highly of my son. But I cannot accept this. Could we give it back so that we can give it to another candidate whose parents cannot afford to pay?”

An officer and gentleman would, in my view, say that.

Source: A Singaporean Says (re: ministers’ children getting government scholarships)

11) The PSC is vested with the disciplinary control of civil servants.

In 2012, 71 new disciplinary cases were reported to the PSC. Together with the 46 cases that were brought forward from the previous years, the PSC processed a total of 117 cases in the year.

The three main types of misconduct for cases completed in 2012 under the Regulations were Immoral Behaviour, Indebtedness and Theft/Robbery.

Source: PSC Annual Report (2012)

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PART 1: MINISTERS’ CHILDREN and/or GOV. RELATIVES

1. LEE HSIEN LOONG + Family Members = Scholars

Lee Hsien Loong was awarded the president’s scholarship in 1970 and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAFOS) scholarship in 1971. His brother Lee Hsien Yang, and his sister Lee Wei Ling were also President’s Scholars. His son, Li Hongyi, is a PSC Scholar.

His father, Lee Kuan Yew, was awarded an Anderson Scholarship to Raffles College, while his mother, Kwa Geok Choo, was a Queen’s Scholar. His wife, Ho Ching, was a President’s Scholar.

2. MAH BOW TAN + Son = Scholars

Mah Bow Tan was a former Colombo Plan Scholar and President’s Scholar.

According to John Harding’s website, Mah Bow Tan is the father of Warren Mah (who received an MAS scholarship to study overseas; funded by Singapore taxpayers).

A concerned netizen says:

Over his 19 years as Cabinet Minister, Singaporeans (and NOT the PAP) have paid $2m Minister Mah Bow Tan an estimated handsomely-humongous S$33 million in total salary/bonuses.

Despite above, he did not send his son Warren Mah to university on “Father’s Scholarship” (i.e. out of his own pocket) but managed to land him a Govt Scholarship (from Monetary Authority of Singapore) to study at the prestigious University of Pennslyvania in USA. The MAS scholarship is worth some S$300,000 — which again, by PAP standards, is merely “half a peanut.”

3. TONY TAN + Son = Scholars

Tony Tan was a recipient of the Singapore Government State Scholarship in 1959. Tony Tan has 3 sons: Patrick, Philip, and Peter.

Patrick Tan Boon Ooi is an Associate Director at A*Star’s Genome Institute. He was a recipient of the president’s scholarship and the Loke Cheng Kim scholarship in 1987. The Loke Cheng Kim scholarship is an overseas bond-free scholarship offered by a non-profit organisation.

4. TEO CHEE HEAN + Son = Scholars

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Teo Chee Hean is the father of Teo Eng Siang. Teo Eng Siang received a PSC Overseas Merit Scholarship in 2005 to study International Relations and Philosophy at Brown University (scholarship funded by Singapore taxpayers). Brown University’s tuition fee for 2015-2016 is US$48,272 per annum.

A netizen says:

Shameless Teo Chee Hean. He is a million dollar minister and his son gets a free scholarship fully paid for by Singaporeans. This is disgusting.”
— Alex Tan, 2012

5. PHILIP YEO + Son = Scholars

Gene Yeo is the son of former A*Star’s Chairman Philip Yeo. Philip Yeo was the sole recipient of a Fulbright scholarship in 1974.

Funded by the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Graduate Fellowship from Singapore, Gene Yeo earned a Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In 2007, A*Star wanted to sue a graduate student blogger for implying that the agency was corrupt.

The 25 year-old blogger alleged that A*Star “bribed universities to enrol its scholars, paid professors to accept scholars into their labs and suggested that its scholars enrol in universities with which it had ‘connections’ rather than the more expensive, top-notch ones.”

Source: Straits Times

6. DR. ALINE WONG’s Son = Scholar

Prof. Wong Tien Yin, a former President’s Scholar, is the son of former senior minister of state, Dr. Aline Wong.

7. GRACE FU’s Son = Scholar

Minister Grace Fu Hai Yien is the mother of Marcus Lee Jian Ying, an SAF Overseas Scholar.

8. BROTHERS of NG CHEE MENG = President’s Scholars

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Ng Brothers | Image by Roy Ngerng

Ng Chee Meng, former Chief of Defence Force and PAP Candidate (2015), has two brothers: Ng Chee Peng (former Chief of Navy) and Ng Chee Khern (former Chief of Army). Ng Chee Peng and Ng Chee Khern were President’s Scholars.

9. TAY ENG SOON’s Daughter = Scholar

Late senior minister of state for education Tay Eng Soon is the father of Lucy Tay. Lucy Tay is a President’s Scholar. A 2007 article mentioned she was with MOE’s personnel department where she helped recruit teachers.

10. BROTHERS Teo Shiyi + Teo Tse Hsiang = President’s Scholars

Teo Shiyi was one of the four President’s Scholars in 2002. His elder brother Tse Hsiang was awarded the prestigious award in 1998. His mother, Teo Po Chu, was a director with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

11. KO KHENG HWA + Daughter = President’s Scholars

Ko Kheng Hwa is a former President’s Scholar and former Director at Singapore Economic Development Board. His daughter, Stephanie Ko Qian Wen, received the president’s scholarship in 2007.

The Public Service Commission, which awards the scholarship, said Stephanie — from Hwa Chong Institution — is the first recipient to have a President’s Scholar as a parent.

13. SERGIUS WAT ZHIWEN + Brother = Scholars

Sergius Wat is a President’s Scholar and Singapore Police Force scholar. His older brother is a Singapore Armed Forces scholar.

12. SIM ANN + SIBLINGS = Scholars

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Article on Sim Ann’s “brainy” scholar family. Source: ST, 22 July 1998

According to a forum post, Sim Ann’s sister, Sim Min, was awarded a Monetary Authority of Singapore scholarship, while her brother Sim Kai was a President’s Scholar.

The above image from ST and Hwa Chong Institution’s President’s Scholars page lists Sim Ann and Sim Kai as recipients.

PM Lee Hsien Loong has known Sim Ann’s mother for 30 years.

A forum post has some details on Sim Ann’s grandfather being executed in the People’s Republic of China for treason. Will update this section if there’s more info on this in future.

The archive is still available in the China national archive.

Now Sim Ann, his granddaughter, is selling out Singaporeans — it should not be a surprise as it seems treason runs in their family blood line.

Sim Ann’s sister is Sim Min, 34, who was awarded a Monetary Authority of Singapore scholarship. Her brother Sim Kai, 31, is also a President’s Scholar.

Daughter of executed Prisoner PRC ID number (XD4429372J) – Choo Lian Liang
Father – Sim Hock Kee

This is a family of nation betrayers.

Source: Helium

Former Minister of State for Education, Sim Ann, has avoided national issues, the problem of foreign scholarships, and the low intake of local graduates in Singapore universities.

14. WALTER WOON’s Twin Sons = Scholars

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Walter Woon and sons. Source: NUS

Alexander Joseph Woon Wei-Ming, the younger twin by 10 minutes, is a President’s Scholar. His fraternal twin brother Adrian Gerard Woon Wei-Xin is a PSC scholar. Their father is former Attorney-General Walter Woon, and their mother, Mrs Janis Woon, is a deputy registrar with the Family Court.

15. HENG SWEE KEAT + Wife = Scholars

Heng Swee Keat was a Singapore Police Force overseas scholar. His wife, Chang Hwee Nee, was a President’s Scholar. Chang is Deputy Secretary (Planning) at the Ministry of National Development.

16. DESMOND CHOO = Scholar

Desmond Choo, PAP Candidate for Tampines GRC (2015), was awarded the SPF Overseas Merit Scholarship in 1997 to study Economics at the University of Chicago.

His uncle is Choo Wee Khaing, a former MP who was charged with 3 counts of corruption in 2011.

17. YONG PUNG HOW’s Daughter = Scholar

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Newly installed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (L) takes his oath of office before Chief Justice Yong Pung How (R) and witnessed by Singaporean President S.R Nathan (C) at the Istana presidential palace in Singapore, 12 August 2004. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN

Yong Ying-I is the daughter of former Chief Justice Yong Pung How, a close friend of LKY.

Yong Ying-I was an Overseas Merit Scholar.

18. LEE YOCK SUAN + Son = Scholars

Lee Yock Suan served in the PAP Cabinet from 1987 to 2004, and was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1980 to 2006. He was a President’s Scholar.

His son, Desmond Lee Ti-Seng, was elected to Parliament in 2011 as a PAP MP for the Jurong Group Representation Constituency and was made a Minister of State in 2013. Desmond was a Legal Service Commission Scholarship recipient.

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PART 2: SCHOLAR SCANDALS

1. JONATHAN WONG WAI KEONG

Former Ministry of Education (MOE) scholar Jonathan Wong Wai Keong was sentenced to five years’ jail in 2012.

Wong was convicted for possession of child pornography in Britain in 2010.

Despite being caught in England for possessing child pornography, local media reported that Jonathan Wong taught in a secondary school after he returned to Singapore.

2. NG BOON GAY

Former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) director Ng Boon Gay was charged in 2012 with four counts of sex-related corruption.

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Cecilia Sue and Ng Boon Gay, 2013.

Ng was accused of corruptly obtaining sexual gratification from a female IT executive, Cecilia Sue Siew Nang, by assisting to further the business interests of her then employers Oracle Corporation Singapore and Hitachi Data Systems in dealings with CNB.

Ng recounted that there were at least 20-30 times he and Cecelia Sue were sexually intimate during their three-year relationship.

Ng was a PSC scholarship and Singapore Police Force Postgraduate Scholarship recipient.

A netizen comments:

The most worrying part to me [with Ng Boon Gay being acquitted in 2014] is that Shanmugam is setting a precedent now, by saying that even though there is plainly a conflict of interest, there is no corruption. 

Source: Sam’s Alfresco

3. ALVIN TAN

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Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee.

Alvin Tan was an Asean scholar and had been on “leave of absence” from his classes for almost a year when he started uploading pornographic pictures and videos of himself and his girlfriend Vivian Lee on a blog titled “Sumptuous Erotica.”

An estimate shows that it may have cost the Singapore go­­­vernment — the benefactor of the Asean scholarship programme — at least RM275,000 (S$110,000) to fund all of Tan’s seven years of study in the city state.

The highly prestigious scholarship is awarded to only 170 undergraduates from nine Asean countries annually. It covers tuition fees, accommodation and also provides an allowance for the recipients.

Source: AsiaOne

4. CHUA REN CHENG

Teacher and former grassroots leader Chua Ren Cheng was a Head of Department in charge of selecting MOE scholars at the Ministry of Education. He is a former MOE scholar.

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Chua Ren Cheng leaving the court, 2012. Source: AsiaOne

In 2012, he “confessed he was a sinner” and was charged for having commercial sex with an underage prostitute.

5. WEE SHU MIN

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“Get out of my elite uncaring face.” — Wee Shu Min, 2006

Wee Shu Min, a daughter of MP Wee Siew Kim, is notorious for deriding a Singaporean blogger for his views on the anxieties of Singapore workers. Miss Wee was on RJC’s Humanities Scholarship Programme.

In dismissing the blogger’s views in 2006, she wrote:

“Derek, Derek, Derek darling, how can you expect to have an iron rice bowl or a solid future if you cannot spell?

“There’s no point in lambasting the Government for making our society one that is, I quote, ‘far too survival of the fittest. . .’ If uncertainty of success offends you so much, you will certainly be poor and miserable.”

[She concluded by telling the blogger] to “get out of my elite uncaring face.”

6. ENG KAI ER

Eng Kai Er is an A*Star scientist who took up two scholarships.

She was fined $2,000 for walking naked through Holland Village with Swedish exchange student Jan Philip.

In 2014, she criticised her scholarship’s bond in a blog post and set up a “No Star Arts Grant” in protest, pledging to give $1,000 a month from her salary to support arts projects for a year.

7. OUYANG XIANGYU

Ouyang Xiangyu is originally from China. She was expected to complete her A*Star National Science Scholarship PhD studies by 2018 and return to Singapore to complete her bond.

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Ouyang Xiangyu, who was listed as a scholar studying at California’s Stanford University. Image: Examiner

In 2015, she was arrested and charged with poisoning her research classmates at Stanford University with a potent chemical that causes burning sensations in the mouth and throat.

8. EISEN TEO

In 2014, former Straits Times journalist and SPH scholar Eisen Teo was sentenced to 1.5 years in jail for two charges of having sex and oral sex with an underage girl.

According to the Statement of Facts, presented in court by Deputy Public Prosecutor Amanda Chong, Teo first took special interest in the teenage girl when he learned from reading her blog that she was “clinically depressed, suffering from insomnia and was being bullied in school.”

Comments by netizens:

1) Why did the judge give [Eisen Teo] such a light sentence?? He is a scholar, shame on him to prey on young girls. He planned his move, told lies, to take advantage of her. A scholar with low morals and integrity. Hope the girl is on the road to recovery. I hope his wife divorces him. Fancy his wife baking in the kitchen and he is so bold to have sex with another girl in the room.
(– Mavis Teo)

2) Most scholars produced in the Singapore system are like this: narcissistic and incapable of human understanding.
(– nimal)

Source: Yahoo

9. ONG TECK CHIN

Ong Teck Chin is a Rhodes scholar and former ACS(I) principal. He resigned after an investigating panel stated he had “behaved inappropriately towards a male teacher.”

ACS’s stated aim is to have every student be ‘A Scholar, an Officer and a Gentleman.’

Apparently a biology teacher in his 30’s contacted The Straits Times and alleged the principal had “behaved inappropriately” towards him. 

Ong had reduced his teaching duties and created a new position as his de facto personal aide, jetting off together on overseas trips to recruit foreign scholars. Yes, the foreigners competing with your ward for a place in the school are proactively sought and groomed by the principal. With the blessings of MOE. Paid out of your income taxes.

Source: Singapore Desk

10. LIM HWEE HUA

Lim Hwee Hua, a PSC Overseas Merit Scholarship holder, was Singapore’s first female Minister and Second Minister for Finance and Transport in 2009.

Before she was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister, Lim was Temasek Holdings’ managing director of strategic relations. She quit politics in 2011.

From John Harding’s website [John Harding was the former Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Singapore’s Inland Revenue Department (IRAS)]:

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Lim Hwee Hwa: Former Minister and current director at Tembusu Partners.

Here is the BIG CONNECTION with the Singapore Government that is making it all happen. Andy Lim’s wife is Lim Hwee Hua (former minister). Lim Hwee Hua was making nearly four times as much as President Obama, but this is not enough for the crooked lady. She has set up her husband, Andy, to run a scam investment company, where, as an investor, you can get residence in Singapore.

Source: YeoCheowTong.com

11. ENG HENG CHIAW

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Ex-SAF scholar gets jail for $500,000 bribe offer. Source: Straits Times, 16 April 2005

Eng Heng Chiaw was a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) scholar.

Eng was accused of making a S$500,000 bribe offer to an executive of Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency, Sin Boon Wah, in exchange for information on tender bids in a defence ministry contract for the naval helicopters.

He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 56 days imprisonment on 15 Apr 2005.

12. SUN XU

Sun Xu was an NUS PRC scholar. Each NUS undergraduate scholarship, which covers school fees and accommodation, is worth between $18,000 and $25,000 annually.

Sun was fined $3,000 for making “improper, insensitive and disrespectful” remarks.

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“More dogs than humans in Singapore.” — Sun Xu | Image from Stomp SG

He had written: “The most annoying thing in Singapore are those ‘uncles’ who stare at you, or complain endlessly when you accidentally brush past them. . .[there are] more dogs than humans in Singapore.”

Source: AsiaOne

13. CHAN WEI KIAT

Chan Wei Kiat was a captain with the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and an RSN scholar.

In 2012, he was sentenced to 11 weeks’ jail for having paid sex with an underage prostitute.

14. PETER LIM

Peter Lim was the Commissioner of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and a former Public Service Commission overseas scholarship recipient.

In 2013, Lim was convicted for corruptly obtaining sexual gratification from a female employee of Nimrod in exchange for furthering the company’s business interests with the SCDF.

The judge noted that as the highest-ranked officer of SCDF, Lim was expected to lead by example and “displayed unimpeachable conduct,” adding that his actions brought “embarrassment to the public service” and loss of reputation to the SCDF.

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PART 3: FOREIGN-BORN SCHOLARS in Government or Civil Service

1. KHAW BOON WAN

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Khaw Boon Wan, a Colombo Plan Scholar (Batch 1973), addressing fellow alumni at Jurong Country Club. Source: FB

MP and PAP Chairman Khaw Boon Wan was born on 8 December 1952 in Penang, Malaysia. He studied in the University of Newcastle, Australia under the Singapore Government Colombo Plan Scholarship.

In 2002, Khaw Boon Wan was said to live by the principle of a Chinese Buddhist saying:

“Be always mindful of those who have brought you benefits, and remember to reciprocrate.”

It seems that netizens think otherwise of Mr. Khaw.

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Google Screenshot: Khaw Boon Wan described by netizens as a “fake Buddhist.”

2. TAN ZHONGSHAN

Ipoh-born Tan Zhongshan was awarded an Asean scholarship by Singapore’s Ministry of Education after completing his A-Levels at Temasek Junior College. After his studies at Cambridge University, he returned to Singapore to join its Legal Service commission.

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State Counsel / DPP: TAN Zhongshan

As of Aug 2015, Tan Zhongshan is a State Counsel / DPP in the Financial and Technology Crime Division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

The Singapore Legal Service is the collective body of lawyers (Legal Service Officers) who serve in the courts, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, and the legal departments of various government ministries and statutory boards in Singapore. It controls the appointment, dismissal, and disciplinary action of members of the Service.

3. LIU CHEN

Former RJC student Liu Chen moved to Singapore from Shandong, China, in 1997 with her mother and father. She became a Singapore citizen in 2005 and received a President’s Scholarship to study economics at the University of Chicago.

At the time of this posting, Liu Chen is Head of the Sectoral Manpower Unit, Manpower Policy and Planning Division at the Ministry of Manpower (LinkedIn and Gov.sg).

4. MAUNG THET NAING WIN

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Maung Thet Naing Win (centre), receiving the SAF Overseas Scholarship at a ceremony. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Myanmar-born Maung Thet Naing Win was the recipient of the prestigious SAF Overseas Scholarship (Safos) in 2013. He became a new citizen in 2008.

The scholarship is given to only a handful of top students each year. Notable past recipients include Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, DPM and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean, and Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.

SAFOS scholars are groomed for the highest levels of command and management in the SAF and beyond.

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PART 4: READER TIP on FOREIGN SCHOLARS

If you go to the A*Star web site, plenty of the scholars are foreign-born — India, China, Vietnam, Malaysia.

This is a small selection of foreign-born scholars.

1) Dr. Wei Fengxia (born in Shandong, China / A*Star scholar)

2) Neil Huynh Hoai Nguyen (born in Vietnam / A*Star scholar)

3) Ng Jie Qi (born in Selangor, Malaysia / MOE scholar)

4) Vijay Raj Singh (born in India / NTU scholar)

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Xiao Yifei graduation, 15 August 2015. Source: FB

5) Xiao Yifei (born in China / President’s scholar and RJC alumnus; was holding dual citizenship when she got her scholarship)

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PART 5: ADDITIONAL INFO

These individuals are not scholars — interesting info nonetheless.

1. DANNY SOO EE HOCK

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Danny Lim, 2010. Source: ST

Danny Soo Ee Hock was a former grassroots leader who took upskirt photos of women. He was stripped of a National Day medal given to him in 2010.

MrBrown says:

The odd thing was that Danny Soo was arrested in July 2009 and awarded the PBM in 2010. Guess no one informed the award committee.

Source: MrBrown / CNN

2. CHRISTOPHER LIM CHAI MENG and KOH SEAH WEE

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Ex-director allegedly cheated SLA of $11.8m to buy Lamborghini. Source: Stomp Courtroom

Christopher Lim Chai Meng and his superior Koh Seah Wee (a deputy director at the Singapore Land Authority) were convicted in 2010 for their roles in cheating Singapore government agencies of S$12.5 million.

Lim pleaded guilty to 49 counts including money laundering. They allegedly used the money to buy apartments and cars including a S$1.6 million limited-edition Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV and a Ferrari F430.

Burmese Generals, Drug Lords, and the Singapore Government

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On the historical links between the Singapore government and “Burmese Generals / Drug Lords.”

1. LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS

Most of Burma’s 50 million people struggle to feed their families on less than $1 a day.

Regional analysts say most of that revenue and money earned on the black market goes straight to the military leaders and the elite that surrounds them.

Ian Holliday, a Burma expert at the University of Hong Kong, says the generals also spend their money in Singapore.

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Might one of these luxury villas belong to Senior General Than Shwe? (Image of Sentosa Cove)

“I know they’ve got some property investments. Than Shwe and his family have a luxury villa that they go [to]. I don’t know how much money they put in Singaporean bank accounts. I assume it’s quite a lot,” he said.

Source: VoA (2007)

2. BANKS and BILLIONS

a) Nine banks have been given provisional licences to operate in Myanmar, of which two are Singaporean — UOB and OCBC.

Source: Jakarta Post (2015)

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OCBC: World’s Strongest Bank (in 2012). Source: Bloomberg

b) In early September 2009, the NGO EarthRights International (ERI) revealed that the French and American oil companies Total and Chevron were using two Singapore-based banking corporations (DBS and OCBC) to finance Burma’s Yadana energy project.

This project might have generated huge dividends for the Burmese state and its military associates (around US$5 billion in one decade according to ERI’s report), as well as for Singapore. Singapore’s official bilateral trade with Burma hit US$1.86 billion during the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Source: Soldiers and Diplomacy in Burma (NUS Press)

c) “[Burma’s] military elite are hiding billions of dollars of the people’s revenue in Singapore while the country needlessly suffers under the lowest social spending in Asia,” said ERI’s Matthew Smith, the report’s main author.

Source: The Independent

d) Jelson Garcia, Asia Program Manager with the Banking Information Center (BIC), said World Bank, ADB and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials informed him last year that Burma’s government held up to $11 billion in several Singaporean bank accounts.

Source: The Irrawaddy

3. DOUBLE STANDARDS and “BLOOD MONEY”

Stephen Law is the son of Burma’s notorious drug lord Lo Hsing Han, who, at one point, was sentenced to death in Burma for drug trafficking.

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Lo Hsing Han or Law Sit Han (1935 – 2013): Burmese drug trafficker and major business tycoon.

a) Lo Hsing Han’s Asia World (managed by son Stephen Law) and the Burmese junta are partners in Singapore’s luxury Traders Hotel. The hotel’s November 1996 opening ceremony was attended by the wanted guy, Lo Hsing Han himself.

According to a high-level US government official familiar with the situation, Law’s wife Cecilia Ng operates an underground banking system, and “is a contact for people in Burma to get their drug money into Singapore, because she has a connection to the government.”

Source: John Harding, SBS: Singapore Sling, and Covert Action Quarterly

b) “If the Singapore Government truly feels drug abuse is a scourge on society, it would not just want to catch and hang these small-time peddlers,” Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan said, pointing out the Singapore government’s hypocrisy.

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Chee Soon Juan, SDP

“You would want to go for the big fish and go to what the source is. Press the Government on what it’s doing in Burma to stop this production of opium and heroin.”

Source: Singapore’s Hand in Golden Triangle

c) Is it so difficult to prosecute a drug lord? There is a conspiracy of intellects and governments that feed the public with bullshit that corruptions are extremely difficult to prosecute and to prove.

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Money Trail | Image from loans.org

Nothing could be further from the truth. It is easy to steal $1 to $2, but to embezzle millions you would leave trails of accountants, private bankers, large amount of bank accounts transactions, etc. Those are the easiest things to track down.

Source: Veritas

d) Remember, you are dealing with a country like Singapore where the brutal military junta leaders of Burma are not only given red carpet welcomes when they visit Singapore, while they brutalize and torture their citizens, orchids in Singapore were even named after them!

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Singapore Botanic Gardens held an “Orchid Naming Ceremony” for Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, a former general, in 2009

There is a lot of dirty money to be made with Burmese drug money connections. Burmese drug lords need lawyers too. Lee Kuan Yew does business with Burma. Many of them are drug lords.

Contracts for drug money transactions have to be drafted, banking agreements have to be entered into and complicated money laundering transactions have to be worked out.

Source: Singapore Dissident (2011)

e) “The Singapore government knows it’s having dinner with the devil, and sharing a very short spoon,” says former solicitor-general Francis Seow.

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Francis Seow, former solicitor-general of SG

“And it is a terrible double standard. Drug moneys are being laundered apparently by the same drug lords who supply the heroin for which small-time drug dealers are hanged. We are reaping profits as Burma’s biggest investor, but we’re being paid with blood money.”

Source: The Nation

4. GIC, SINGTEL, and MEDICAL TRIPS to SINGAPORE

a) The close political, economic, and military relationship between the two countries facilitates the weaving of millions of narco-dollars into the legitimate world economy.

. . .The Burmese government has kept computers and communication technology away from students and others in opposition to the regime. Yet Singapore has made the best computer technology available to the ruling elite and their business partners [through Singapore Telecom (SingTel)].

Singaporean companies have also helped suppress dissent in Burma by supplying the military with arms to use against its own people.

Source: Covert Action Quarterly

b) A former US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Robert Gelbard, has said half of Singapore’s investment in Burma has been “tied to the family of narco-trafficker Lo Hsing Han.”

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Medical trips to SG. Image of SGH by Thomson Adsett.

Dissident groups say the trade-off for Tay Za’s government business contracts in Burma is to fund junta leaders’ medical trips to Singapore.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Singapore has received criticism for its large investment in the military dictatorship of Burma. In 1995, the government of then PM Goh Chok Tong pursued a diplomatic strategy of engaging Burma while securing investment deals for its Soverign Wealth Funds (SWFs), including the GIC’s investment in the Myanmar Fund (Financial Times 1995). The state used its SWFs as a diplomatic tool to open channels into Burma.

Source: Sovereign Wealth Funds (by Christopher Balding)

5. FORCED ORGAN HARVEST?

  • Reader Tip: Take note of the two dates in the paragraphs below.

1) Burma’s Prime Minister Soe Win is being treated at a hospital in Singapore, an official from the Burmese embassy in the city-state said. The official would not give details of Soe Win’s illness, saying only that it was a “serious health matter.”

Source: BBC (21 March 2007)

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2) As Sim Tee Hua lay on life support in a Singapore hospital, seven of his relatives knelt crying on the floor before the doctors, begging them not to remove his organs and give him a chance for a miracle recovery.

“The hospital staff were running as they wheeled him out of the back door of the room,” said Sim Chew Hiah, one of his sisters. “They were behaving like robbers.”

The harvesting surgeons had waited for 24 hours, but although his family still clung to hopes that he could recover, Singaporean law assumes all citizens except Muslims are willing organ donors unless they have explicitly opted out.

Source: Telegraph (2 March 2007)

6. LEE KUAN YEW on BURMESE LEADERS

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Lee Kuan Yew (Photo: AFP/Files/Roslan Rahman)

From an article on CNN:

This time, the WikiLeaks cable shows Minister Mentor [Lee Kuan Yew] describing the Myanmar (or Burma) leaders as “stupid” and “dense.” He was even quoted as saying that dealing with the regime is like “talking to dead people.”

Source: Mr. Brown / CNN (2010)

END NOTE:

As netizens say:

“This is what we call LEEgalised corruption.”

ADDITIONAL INFO:

This blog post takes a look at LKY’s family ties to opium trade.

Mrs. LKY: “The Dragon Lady”

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A look at Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew) through the perspective of Peranakan culture.

This post is presented in 12 sections:

1. Peranakan Roots + Family Background
2. The Dragon Lady
3. Kwa Geok Choo’s Gold Coin Necklace
4. Images of Gold Coin Necklace
5. Peranakan Culture: General Info
6. Peranakan Culture: A Hidden Matriarchy
7. Peranakan Culture: Phoenix Symbol
8. Peranakan Culture: Females
9. Lee Kuan Yew on Kwa Geok Choo
10. Kwa Geok Choo: Intellect and Capabilities
11. Kwa Geok Choo: State Funeral
12. Kwa Geok Choo: Political Legacy

* * *

1. PERANAKAN ROOTS + Family Background

1) Madam Kwa and her husband, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, both Peranakans, are featured in the Great Peranakans — Fifty Remarkable Lives exhibition.

Source: The Straits Times (2015)

2) . . .born to a well-to-do family, studied law as a Queen’s Scholar in England’s Cambridge University, [and] remained a deeply private person.

Source: Philly.com

2. THE DRAGON LADY

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Mrs and Mr LKY | Image from HerWorld

“Dragon Lady”: A woman of somewhat sinister glamour often perceived as wielding ruthless or corrupt power. (Dictionary.com)

Kwa Geok Choo was described as a “proverbial dragon lady” by a former senior correspondent for The Straits Times.

Francis Seow also referred to Kwa Geok Choo as a dragon lady (short version below; click here for the full-length interview):

Transcript:

The whole structure of government, from the time [Lee Kuan Yew] took office, to the present day, has been designed in such a way that his son will succeed him. And the son has succeeded him, you know?

Now in order to preserve that legacy that he has passed on now to his son, all the troublemakers have to be run out of town, to use an American expression. Behind all this grand scheme of things is. . .the word I’m looking for is. . .The Dragon Lady.

Lee Kuan Yew’s wife. She’s the one with the overweening ambition for her son to take over. She is the one who has been advising Lee Kuan Yew what to do, how to do it, etc.

Many people don’t know this.

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Dowager Empress Cixi.

But I’m telling you today, the power behind the throne is the dowager. The dragon lady, if you like. And she is very smart! That is why all these guys have to get out of the way, and they had to be ruined. Or like me, driven out of the country. If I were to go back, I would go straight from the aeroplane to jail.

— Interview with Francis Seow (former solicitor-general of Singapore)

3. KWA GEOK CHOO’S GOLD COIN NECKLACE

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Kwa Geok Choo’s gold coin necklace.

1) A nyonya and her jewellery are never apart. . . the display of opulence was not just a statement of wealth but also spoke volumes of their shrewdness and austerity.

Source: A Nyonya and Her Jewellery

2) For the 25th anniversary of Lee & Lee law firm in 1980, the firm’s partners had two gold coins specially made for the two senior partners, Mrs Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Dennis Lee.

Unbeknownst to them, Mrs Lee had a chain made for the coin, and would wear it as a necklace on special occasions and at formal functions.

Long after she left the firm, partners would glimpse the gold coin around her neck when her image appeared on TV or in newspaper pictures.

She was appearing at those formal functions as the wife of Singapore’s founding father. But the gold coin around her neck was a reminder that she was also a trailblazing legal luminary in her own right.

Source: Straits Times

4. IMAGES of KWA GEOK CHOO’s GOLD COIN NECKLACE

5. PERANAKAN CULTURE: General Info

1) The Baba Culture is one that is unique to the early settlers along the Straits of Malacca. Since the 17th Century, Chinese traders arrived and lived along these coastal lands bringing with them their wealth of wares, customs, traditions and religions from the south of China.

The off-springs of these ‘locally born Straits Chinese’ were called Peranakan Baba (or Nyonya for womenfolk).

With the arrival of the Europeans in the 18th Century to this part of the world, the Babas were quick to adapt to the changing environment. They became the compradors or ‘go-betweens’ for the Europeans and the locals. Many Baba men held office and important positions in the Portuguese, Dutch & British governments and they rose in status & stature to become successful businessmen who even took on leadership roles in society.

Source: The Main Wayang Company

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President Yusof Ishak with Mrs. LKY’s Parents, Kwa Siew Tee (left) and Wee Yew Neo (right), 1968. | Image from NAS

  • Note: Kwa Geok Choo’s father, Kwa Siew Tee, had several leadership roles (he was one of the founders of the OCBC Bank which he served as General Manager from 1935 to 1945, the Municipal Commissioner of the Colony of Singapore in 1947 and Public Service Commissioner in 1953). (Source: PDF download)

2) Peranakans were bilingual, speaking English as well as their dialect of Baba Malay, and embraced influences from various religions including Buddhism, Taoism, ancestral worship and Christianity.

Source: Five facts about Asia’s unique Peranakans

6. PERANAKAN CULTURE: “A Hidden Matriarchy”

“Matriarch”: A woman who controls a family, group, or government. (Dictionary.com)

1) “While the males are out working to support the family, it is the females that preside the household. A hidden matriarchy, the Nyonya wives rule the household with an iron fist, managing and directing the day to day activities of the household and also controlling the funds in the family.”

Source: Women in the Peranakan Family

2) As someone who married into a Chinese/Peranakan family, [KMN’s] family does hold fast to one Perankan tradition: a powerful matriarchy. The women plan the gatherings, steer the families, and in my observations, usually have the first (and last) say on many matters of importance.

Source: I Married Into a Matriarchy

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Source: ST

3) Chris reminded me that Peranakan families are ‘outwardly patriarchal and internally matriarchal’. Of course! Look at the Little Nyonya, scheming matrons obviously reigned over the households, pretending to be subservient to weak-minded husbands on the surface. Chris, who is Baba by the way and should be awarded some authority on the subject by way of relation, attests to the *fact* that the average Baba man is weaker than the Nyonya woman.

Source: Baba Bling: The Peranakan Museum

4) The portraits of matriarchs displayed above Peranakan Chinese altars in Malacca indicate the powerful position of the matriarch in ruling over the family. These Nyonyas came across as assertive, even bossy as they rose to the position as matriarchs in charge of running an extended family under one household. A mature Baba with great status and influence in the society would have to submit to an uncompromising mother at home.

Source: China Media Research: Analyzing the Little Nyonya

7. PERANAKAN CULTURE: Phoenix Symbol

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What appears to be a “Phoenix” motif on Mrs. LKY’s cheongsam. The bird has a crest of feathers on its head.

1) [Kelvin Pow] explains that the Peranakan culture is matriarchal, hence the phoenix rather than the dragon is the preferred embellishment in its decorative arts.

“I think it is very important that we retain our heritage. I think it is also important for people, especially younger Singaporeans to understand their culture and where they came from.”

Source: ST Jobs — House of Antiques

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Nyonya porcelain featuring a phoenix motif, at the Peranakan Museum.

2) A typical motif used in nyonya porcelain ware is the Phoenix, a symbol of the matriarchal infrastructure of a Peranakan household.

Source: On the Trail of the Phoenix

3) The images above show the Peranakan traditional wedding costume donned on the bride. The geometric layering around her neck is the phoenix collar to symbolise the power of the feminine phoenix in Peranakan society.

Source: lonelytravelog (Peranakan Museum + Phoenix Collar)

8. PERANAKAN CULTURE: Females

a) Young Women

In contrast to her sheltered teenage years, the married Nyonya was given relatively more freedom. It was as if she had served her time, and was now qualified to manage a household and take care of herself.

As she gained more confidence in her dealings with her neighbours, friends and counterparts, her role was likened to that of the strong-willed managing director of a corporation. She controlled almost everything that happened at home.

In public, however, it was the husband who was seen to be the number one person.

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Image from BBC / Getty

b) Keeping it within the Family

In the early days, the younger members of the community married among themselves. This desire to remain within the community was so strong that it was common for people to marry their relatives, even their cousins. The only restriction imposed involved unions between paternal cousins.

c) Colourful Metaphors

Be warned that Peranakans have a way with words. Eavesdrop on two Nyonyas having an animated conversation, and you will be in for a linguistic experience that is hard to forget.

Source: Asiapac Books (Gateway to Peranakan Culture)

d) Cooking + Sewing

“Peranakan families are matriarchal, though the nonya’s role is often seen as supportive to the husband – women are often expected to cook and sew well.”

Source: FRV Bali: Peranakan Museum SG

“She was a skilful knitter, and knitted us sweaters to stay warm, one after another.”

Source: Lee Hsien Loong on Mrs Lee Kuan Yew

9. LEE KUAN YEW on KWA GEOK CHOO

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1) “Without her, I would be a different man, with a different life.”
Lee Kuan Yew

2) “. . .a discerning judge of character. She would tell me whether she would trust that man or not. And often she is right.”

Source: Straits Times

3) “My great advantage was I have a wife who could be a sole breadwinner and bring the children up. That was my insurance policy.”

Source: LKY: The Man and His Ideas, Page 235

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Lee Kuan Yew and Kwa Geok Choo. Image: ST

4) “. . .[she’s my] tower of strength.”

Source: Philly.com

5) “Over the years I’ve been a kept man. My wife keeps the family.”

Source: Lee Kuan Yew in Parliament, 1985

6) Lee Kuan Yew discussed the possibility of euthanasia with his doctors and family in his final years as he struggled with illness and mourned the death of his wife.

Associate professor Michael Barr, who has studied and published on Singapore, said Lee had been left lost and distraught following the death of his wife, Kwa Geok Choo, in 2010, to whom he had been married for 60 years.

Source: South China Morning Post

10. KWA GEOK CHOO’S INTELLECT and CAPABILITIES

1) The late Madam Kwa, wife of Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, was undoubtedly an excellent Peranakan woman, steel clothed in velvet, as Peranakan women were known to be!

Source: Passage Magazine by FOM.sg (PDF download)

2) Mrs Lee Kuan Yew was the firm’s ‘intellectual mind‘, while Mr Dennis Lee took care of the business side of things.

Mrs Lee’s personality, according to one prominent lawyer who declined to be named, is best summed up in the way she always dressed impeccably in a cheongsam to work, but would change into rubber flip-flops once there.

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White cheongsam worn by Kwa Geok Choo. Image: Peranakan Museum.

‘When we heard her walk around in the flip-flops, I would joke that that is power,’ he said. ‘Power in rubber flip-flops.’

Source: Straits Times

3) In 1940, Geok Choo entered Raffles College where, to Kuan Yew’s consternation, she beat him in the English and Economics examinations.

They married while in Cambridge, and graduated together with first class honours degrees in 1949. Geok Choo did it in two years; he in three. She was the first woman in Malaya to get a first class honours law degree.

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Lee Kuan Yew and his wife, Kwa Geok Choo in 1968. Photo: Benson Lo

Though she opted to stay in the political background and play the role of supportive wife, she was a founding member of the People’s Action Party (PAP). She was highly skilled in legal draftmanship, helping to draft the PAP Constitution, and later the crucial provisions that guaranteed Singapore’s continued water supply when Singapore separated from Malaysia.

Source: Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame

4) Standing proudly atop its box on the third floor of the Peranakan Museum, the barrister’s wig that belonged to the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo (21 December 1920 – 2 October 2010) is very much a tribute not only to its erstwhile owner, but also to the era’s fledgling coterie of able Peranakan women.

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Kwa Geok Choo’s barrister’s wig.

Source: Passage Magazine by FOM.sg (PDF download)

5) Known for her attention to detail, Kwa Geok Choo once interrupted the taping of an interview to touch up [Lee Kuan Yew’s] hair and makeup.

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Source: Straits Times

11. KWA GEOK CHOO: STATE FUNERAL

From the Press Statement from the PM’s office on the passing of Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew:

The family requests that no obituaries and no wreaths or flowers to be sent. All donations will go to the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) Health Research Endowment Fund.

Kwa Geok Choo was given a heroine’s funeral:

The glass-encased brown coffin of Kwa Geok Choo, who died aged 89 on Saturday after a long illness, was transported to a suburban crematorium on a ceremonial gun carriage normally reserved for state and military funerals.

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Casket of Mrs. LKY

The government said the usage of a ceremonial gun carriage “is in recognition of her exceptional and unique contributions to Singapore for more than five decades, beginning before Singapore became independent.”

12. KWA GEOK CHOO: POLITICAL LEGACY

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Mr. and Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew. Image: CNA

Her political legacy runs deep.

In 1959, she delivered her first and only party political broadcast during the general election that year, urging women to vote for the PAP. She was the only English-speaking woman in the party who had the requisite firmness and conviction for the broadcast.

‘I have been proof-reading and sometimes correcting [Lee Kuan Yew’s] speeches from his earliest 1950 speech to the Malayan Forum in London,’ she told The Straits Times in 1998.

The early history of the People’s Action Party (PAP) also bears the stamp of her involvement.

‘Who else would have drafted that Constitution for them?’ she said. ‘My husband doesn’t draft things. He was an advocate; he was a court lawyer.’

Drafting the rules of a society, by contrast, was her speciality.

Source: Straits Times

MORE INFO:

This blog post has a family tree of Kwa Geok Choo’s relatives holding government positions in Singapore.

National Heritage Board

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1. STOLEN ARTIFACTS?

The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is one of the National Museums of Singapore under the National Heritage Board.

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A photo of the 1,000-year-old bronze sculpture of Uma Parmeshvari stolen from a temple in Tamil Nadu and sold to the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. Source: The Hindu

On 6 December 2013, TRE broke the news that a 1,000-year idol stolen from India was in the possession of ACM.

“The 1,000-year-old Uma Parmeshvari bronze sculpture was stolen from a temple in the Ariyalur district of Tamil Nadu in 2005 or 2006 before being smuggled to Art Of The Past, owned by disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor. Kapoor sold the idol to ACM for US$650,000 in February 2007.

According to chasingaphrodite.com, a blog dedicated to the hunt for looted antiquities in the world’s museums, Kapoor’s contact in Singapore is ACM’s senior curator Dr Gauri Krishnan. The blog is written and maintained by Jason Felch, an award-winning investigative reporter with the Los Angeles Times.”
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“Singapore’s Asian Civilizations Museum bought more than $1 million of art from disgraced Manhattan antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor, according to business records from Kapoor’s Art of the Past gallery.”
Chasing Aphrodite

2. ART AND MONEY LAUNDERING

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Art dealer Yves Bouvier, a Singapore permanent resident. Source: ST

Prominent Swiss businessman and art dealer Yves Bouvier, who is under investigation in Monaco for fraud and money laundering, is a Singapore permanent resident. He was accused by Russian billionaire and art collector Dmitry Rybolovlev of inflating the prices of works by master artists such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh.

Bouvier owns a company that ships and stores art for the wealthy, and has majority stakes in freeports — warehouses for the rich to store art and other valuables — including one in Singapore.

Lawyers and art dealers familiar with the discussions say the case could expand well beyond Bouvier and reach into the top galleries and billionaire collectors in New York, London and Hong Kong. It could widen to involve not only undisclosed mark-ups by dealers, but also tax fraud, global money laundering and possible bribery. 

“This is just the beginning,” said one prominent art lawyer in New York who asked not to be named. “There will be a lot of big dealers and collectors involved.”

3. PAMELIA LEE and Tang Dynasty Ship / Shipwreck Treasure

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Pamelia Lee; sister-in-law of LKY. Image from Challenge.gov.sg

In 2004, as Senior Consultant to the Singapore Tourism Board, Mrs Pamelia Lee (a sister-in-law of Lee Kuan Yew) handled the acquisition of a 9th Century shipwreck treasure of over 53,000 artifacts, known as the “Tang Shipwreck Treasures: Singapore’s Maritime Collection.”

Trafficking Culture, a website run by the University of Glasgow, focuses on understanding the international trade in illicit cultural objects.

From a 2012 article on Trafficking Culture:

. . .the Indonesian government turned to commercial salvaging company Seabed Explorations, led by German director Tilman Walterfang.

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Tilman Walterfang, founder and owner of Seabed Explorations NZ Ltd. with Mrs. Pamelia Lee during one of her many visits to Seabed Explorations New Zealand.

Walterfang sold the collection for $32 million USD in 2005 to the Sentosa Leisure Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Sentosa Development Corporation, an entity established by the government of Singapore. The Sentosa Development Corporation established a long-term loan agreement with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and that same year, the STB teamed up with the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore to display highlights from the collection in an exhibition titled, ‘Tang Treasures from the Sea’.

In 2007, the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer/Sackler Galleries was approached by Singapore Tourism Board’s Pamelia Lee about organizing an exhibition of the shipwreck and putting together a book.

. . .This news sparked an internal debate within the Smithsonian, [when] archaeologists in other museum departments heard that an exhibition of unscientifically excavated, commercially exploited artefact was so far along.

Source: Trafficking Culture

This screenshot mentions some financial numbers re: the Tang Shipwreck Treasure.

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Financial Statements, Notes (2013). Source: NHB.

Last paragraph: “During the current financial year, 53,227 heritage materials of the Tang Shipwreck Treasure were transferred from the Singapore Tourism Board to the Board. The heritage materials were valued by an external valuer on a class basis and was valued at SGD$75,020,166  (US$60,392,985) in June 2012. These are recorded as part of heritage capital reserve.”

  • Reader Tip: I remember those days, lots of rumours Pamelia Lee made a lot of comission from this. I noticed a lot of the Lee or Kwa family members used to be ex-directors in the National Heritage Board too.

4. BOARD MEMBERS in NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD

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NHB Board Members (PDF; 2013)

I. Some board members include (from 2013 document):

II. Mini FAMILY TREE Image

NHB_Relatives

5. NOTE ABOUT MR. KWA CHONG GUAN:

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Kwa Chong Guan; a nephew of Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. LKY)

Kwa Chong Guan, a nephew of the late Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew, is a Member of the National Heritage Board and current chairman of the National Archives Advisory Committee. He is also a board member of the National Library Board, and chairs the Acquisition Sub-committee of the Asian Civilisations Board.

From the website of The National Archives of Singapore:

“The National Archives of Singapore (NAS) is the keeper of records of national or historical significance. The records acquired by NAS come from both public agencies and private sources. Records in various mediums and formats are safeguarded and preserved.

The immensely rich collection continues to grow as NAS fulfils its mission to actively acquire records that will serve as the corporate memory of the Government and the social memory of our people. This memory allows current and future generations of Singaporeans to understand our different cultures, explore our common heritage and appreciate who we are and how we became a nation.”
National Archives of Singapore (Our Roles)

With academics warning of the “power of the Singapore state in constraining [history],” one wonders just how much of the National Archives is made to keep in line with “the well-rehearsed official state narrative.”

Offshore Banking / Money Laundering

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* Thanks to a reader for submitting this blog post topic.

1. WHAT IS MONEY LAUNDERING and HOW DOES IT WORK?

According to Investopedia:

[An offshore bank is] located or based outside of one’s national boundaries. A company may legitimately move offshore for the purpose of tax avoidance or to enjoy relaxed regulations. Offshore financial institutions can also be used for illicit purposes such as money laundering and tax evasion.

According to legal-dictionary, money laundering “allows criminals to transform illegally obtained gain into seemingly legitimate funds.”

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Money Laundering is the process of taking ‘dirty’ funds and converting it into ‘clean’ funds | Image from KYC Map

According to A Beginner’s Guide To Money Laundering:

Let’s say you [want] to hide a massive bribe. First, you must convert it into another currency without the government knowing. The easiest way to do this is to contact [an agent] who will give you casino chips for your cash, minus fees of up to 20%.

Take the chips to a friendly, cooperative casino, or, for extra safety, take them to a lawyer specializing in offshore laundering. Meanwhile, the casino will mix your chips with those from legitimate gamblers, and its accountants will book your $1 million as paid-out winnings.

Your bank or lawyer must wire-transfer the funds in such a way that the money crosses multiple borders, to frustrate detection or confiscation. For instance, the money might end up in a US trust managed by a shell company in Grand Cayman, owned by another trust in Guernsey with an account in Luxembourg managed by a Swiss or Caribbean or Singaporean banker who doesn’t know who the owner is.

2. “CORRUPTION” and PORTCULLIS TRUSTNET

As concerns grow about the wealth of corporate oligarchs, government officials and their families, some Chinese have braved the government’s anger by raising questions about corruption.

“How can you fight corruption if you don’t even dare to disclose your personal assets?” New Citizens Movement’s founder, legal advocate and activist Xu Zhiyong, wrote last spring.

The government arrested Xu and detained more than 20 other members of the group, indicting some for “disturbing public order” or “illegal assembly,” charges frequently used to silence dissidents.

The files [from this report] come from two offshore firms — Singapore-based Portcullis TrustNet and BVI-based Commonwealth Trust Limited — that help clients create offshore companies, trusts and bank accounts.

Source: Leaked Records Reveal Offshore Holdings of China’s Elite

3. MONEY LAUNDERING IN SINGAPORE

ICIJ is an investigative journalism website which focuses on issues like cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power.

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Singapore Skyline Banking District

From one of their articles on offshore banking in Singapore:

More than 100 customer consultants at Deutsche Bank Singapore helped create or manage 309 offshore entities for its customers in the British Virgin Islands and other tax havens, according to secret records obtained by the news organizations.

Most of the companies carry fantasy names like “Thrilling Returns Incorporated,” “Amazing Opportunity Limited” or “Market Dollar Group Limited.” Public sources don’t show any business activities for most of these companies. Deutsche Bank registered the entities with the help of Portcullis TrustNet, an offshore services provider headquartered in Singapore.

Deutsche Bank’s private banking operations ranked No. 6 among the world’s largest private banks, increasing their assets under management from $180 billion in 2005 to $367 billion in 2010.

Source: ICIJ

From John Harding’s website [John Harding was the former Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Singapore’s Inland Revenue Department (IRAS)]:

Yeo Cheow Tong is a member of the investment team of Tembusu Partners. Yeo was given his retirement pay in a lump sum in order to pay off his debts to bankers and not embarrass the Singapore government.

The Trembusa fund has been awarded Pioneer Status with zero-rated tax incentive for both the fund and the fund management company. The fund has also qualified under the Global Investor Programme by EDB, where foreign investors with S$1.5 million investment into the fund may apply for Permanent Resident Status in Singapore.

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Lim Hwee Hwa: Former Minister and current director at Tembusu Partners.

Andy Lim, who also runs Money World, has been banned from entering China due to money laundering activities of his firm. He has also been charged in court in the Fiji Islands. And here is the BIG CONNECTION with the Singapore Government that is making it all happen. Andy Lim’s wife is Lim Hwee Hua (former minister). Lim Hwee Hua was making nearly four times as much as President Obama, but this is not enough for the crooked lady. She has set up her husband, Andy, to run a scam investment company, where, as an investor, you can get residence in Singapore.

P.S. Lim Hwee Hua is currently a director at Tembusu Partners.

Source: YeoCheowTong.com

On an art scandal that could expose mass fraud in the global art market:

Lawyers and art dealers familiar with the discussions say the case could expand well beyond Bouvier and reach into the top galleries and billionaire collectors in New York, London and Hong Kong. It could widen to involve not only undisclosed mark-ups by dealers, but also tax fraud, global money laundering and possible bribery. 

“This is just the beginning,” said one prominent art lawyer in New York who asked not to be named. “There will be a lot of big dealers and collectors involved.”

Source: CNBC

On 1MDB bank accounts:

Singapore police have started investigations into money laundering on two bank accounts linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in the island republic. Earlier this year, MAS said it was in touch with Malaysian regulators after Putrajaya said 1MDB had redeemed US$1.1 billion from the Cayman Islands and parked it in the Singapore unit of Swiss private bank BSI.

Source: The Malaysian Insider

4. SINGAPOREANS in ICIJ’S “OFFSHORE LEAKS”

This is a list of names from Singapore who have offshore companies and trusts.

One is former army general, LT-Gen Ng Jui Ping.

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LT-Gen Ng Jui Ping: Offshore Leaks Database. Offshore Service Provider: Portcullis Trustnet (refer to Sections 2 & 3 above).

5. SINGAPORE & BURMA GOVERNMENT

a) For its part, Temasek does not respond to questions about its activities in Burma.

A Singaporean diplomat to Burma, Matthew Sim, says “many successful Myanmar businessmen have opened shell companies” in Singapore “with little or no staff, used to keep funds overseas.”

Sim may be referring to junta cronies such as Tay Za and the druglord Lo Hsing Han. Lo controls a heroin empire and one of Burma’s biggest companies, Asia World, which the US Drug Enforcement Agency describes as a front for his drug trafficking.

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Lo Hsing Han or Law Sit Han (1935 – 2013): Burmese drug trafficker and major business tycoon.

Singapore is the Lo family’s window to the world, a base for controlling several companies. Lo’s son Steven, who has been denied a visa to the US because of his drug links, is married to a Singaporean, Cecilia Ng. A former US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Robert Gelbard, has said half of Singapore’s investment in Burma has been “tied to the family of narco-trafficker Lo Hsing Han.”

Dissident groups say the trade-off for Tay Za’s government business contracts in Burma is to fund junta leaders’ medical trips to Singapore.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

b) Jelson Garcia, Asia Program Manager with the Banking Information Center (BIC), said World Bank, ADB and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials informed him last year that Burma’s government held up to $11 billion in several Singaporean bank accounts.

In 2009, the US-based non-profit organization Earth Rights International (ERI) reported that the then ruling junta had excluded almost $5 billion in revenues — generated from the Yadana Gas project operated by oil giants Total and Chevron — from the country’s national budget.  These funds, the group found after an investigation, had been placed in two Singapore-based banks — the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation and DBS Group — which functioned as “offshore repositories.” The banks have denied the allegations.

Source: The Irrawaddy

c) Singapore’s economic linkage with Burma is one of the most vital factors for the survival of Burma’s military regime,” says Professor Mya Maung, a Burmese economist based in Boston. This link, he continues, is also central to “the expansion of the heroin trade.”

Singapore has achieved the distinction of being the Burmese junta’s number one business partner — both largest trading partner and largest foreign investor. The close political, economic, and military relationship between the two countries facilitates the weaving of millions of narco-dollars into the legitimate world economy.

Source: Covert Action Quarterly

6. SINGAPORE / DIRTY MONEY

a) Singapore’s national pension system resembles the mother of all Ponzi schemes which is about to implode.

The PAP is aware of the widespread perception that CPF resembles a Ponzi scheme but has not been able convince Singaporeans otherwise. Instead, it has continued to conceal important information from the public.

Source: Phillip Ang

b) The days of banging a million bucks into a secret account in Singapore are over. . .the ability to move corrupt funds overseas is a large part of what makes grand corruption possible.

Source: Global Witness

c) Historically, why are there so many alleged “illegal” monies linked to Singapore?

Source: All Singapore Stuff

7. PM LEE HSIEN LOONG’S COMMENTS on BILLIONAIRES

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“If I can get another 10 billionaires to move to Singapore and set up their base here, my Gini coefficient will get worse but I think Singaporeans will be better off.”
— LHL, 2013

8. VIDEO ON HOW OFFSHORE BANKING WORKS:

The ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database cracks open the impenetrable world of offshore tax havens. Users can look through more than 100,000 secret companies, trusts and funds created in offshore locales such as the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands and Singapore.

Elitism Quotes (PAP)

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Small collection of quotes by PAP Ministers etc. on the “aristocracy mentality.” Thanks to readers for contributing some of these :)

1. “Without a natural aristocracy. . .society will lose out.”
— Lee Hsien Loong, 2015

2. “I don’t respond to anything on The Real Singapore, which is a Facebook page and website written by morons, commented on by morons, and read and shared by morons.”
— Calvin Cheng, 2014

3. “The problem today is that PAP is a bit too elitist. . .they don’t feel for the people; overall, there is a lack of empathy.”
— Ngiam Tong Dow, 2013

4. “Maybe it made lesser mortals envious and they thought maybe he was a little bit boastful.”
— Charles Chong, MP (on senior civil servant Tan Yong Soon’s S$46,000 five-week course at a prestigious French cooking school)

5. “I feel my own angst riding with the common people. But I suppose it’s good to get the feel from the ground every now and then, to connect with the peasantry.”
PAP Supporter and former Law Society employee, Nicholas-Seth Leong on his second MRT trip in 2012

6. “Please, get out of my elite uncaring face.”
— Wee Shu Min, scholar-daughter of former MP Wee Siew Kim

7. “Remember your place in society before you engage in political debate… Debate cannot generate into a free-for-all where no distinction is made between the senior and junior party… You must make distinctions – What is high, what is low, what is above, what is below, and then within this, we can have a debate, we can have a discussion… people should not take on those in authority as ‘equals’.”
— Former Foreign Minister George Yeo (1994)

8. “They (top civil servants) get paid more, they’re highly educated, and they have bigger egos, bigger than any government employees I’ve met anywhere else in the world. It’s not good or bad, but they consider themselves superior to almost any government employee in the world.”
— Renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith on civil servants’ ego in Singapore (2011)

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9. “$600,000 a year is peanuts.”
— Mrs. Goh Chok Tong (2004)

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Source: FB

10. “We are our own check. The integrity of our leaders, of our MPs. That’s where the check comes from. . .not this seductive lie of check and balance.”
— Goh Chok Tong, 26 August 2015

11. “I didn’t ask for it. That was the rate for the job, that’s what I accepted. You don’t like the rate, I can’t help it.”
President Nathan who doesn’t feel he needs to defend his high salary which was criticised extensively online. (The Sunday Times, 7 Aug 2011)

12. “I don’t think that there should be a cap on the number of directorship that a person can hold.”
— PAP MP John Chen who held 8 directorships

13. “It’s not for the money because some of the companies pay me as little as $10,000 a year.”
— PAP MP Wang Kai Yuen who held 11 directorships

14. “One evening, I drove to Little India and it was pitch dark but not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around.”
— Former PAP MP Mr Choo Wee Khiang, in a speech in Parliament in 1992

15. “Smaller Medisave means you’re lazy and work less.”
Khaw Boon Wan (2013)

16. “There’s no ladder to climb when the top rung is reserved for people with a certain name.”
— Forbes (2009)

17. “The elite’s privileged position in decision-making and exclusive formulation of organisational policies will only serve to reflect the elite’s self-interests instead of that of the masses.”
— Classical elite theorist Robert Michels, via Soh Yi Da

18. “Our funds are accountable to the government. I would not believe that transparency is everything.”
— PM Lee Hsien Loong, The Telegraph UK

19. “As an anti-PAP retired civil servant, I can tell you that all the PAP media events are staged with great care. Every photo opportunity is meticulously planned. As a former government press officer told me, we must manipulate the message.”
TRE Comment

20. “We are same — same but different.”
— Lim Swee Say via Teo Chee Hean (2015)

21. “Only rich or corrupt people work for free.”
— Vivian Balakrishnan, when asked about the salaries of Members of Parliament (2015)

22. “The reality as societies developed is that leaders often come from the same social circles, educational backgrounds and even family trees.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 2011

23. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 1987

24. “In short, the elite.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 1966

elite_meaning

Google search for meaning of “Elite”

+ + +

For more PAP ministers’ quotes, check out the following resources:

1) Top 30 Quotes from the Ivory Tower (TOC)

2) Photo Album (Martyn See)

3) Great PAP Quotes (Comment saved by Chris Ho)

4) Infamous Quotes by SG Leaders (AskMeLah)

The Over-Hyped National Day Rally

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* Blog post by former ISD director Mr. Yoong Siew Wah, who blogs at SG Recalcitrant. Originally posted on TR Emeritus.

There was a publicity overdrive on PM Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally as it was obvious he was anxious that his Sermon on the Mount would reach as wide an audience as possible. As it turned out it was nothing more than a captive audience comprising mainly PAP minister, MPs, grassroots leaders, PAP supporters and a sprinkling of students, who listened in awesome attention to his so called exquisite oratory.

The Workers’ Party MPs very wisely gave the Rally a miss as it would have put them in an untenable position having to endorse the electioneering effort and excessive extolment of the late Lee Kuan Yew which they anticipated would be a feature of the Rally speech. They instead organised a dinner for their supporters to celebrate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee. Other opposition parties had also organised separate social events on that day.

The attendees at the Rally were a captive audience and PM Lee was at his best in mesmerizing his audience with his absorbing narrative on what social and political problems Singapore was facing and the Government’s efforts in overcoming them. He was seen to be in his element when he delivered his speech with such finesse that he had the audience applauding from time to time whenever he made a significant point.

It would have been a consummation of his oratory if he had refrained from extolling ad nauseam the so-called virtues of his late father Lee Kuan Yew and turning the Rally into an electioneering stunt calling for the election of the PAP team in the general election.

Of course the attendees by their very nature would be the PAP’s loyal electors. But how widely this will percolate down to the electorate will be a million-dollar question.

The PAP has the distinct advantage in its early announcement of its candidates for the general election and the fawning write-ups by a subservient press. The opposition has not disclosed its complete line-ups but the Workers’ Party will be defending its incumbent constituencies. So everything seems to be ready except the announcement of an election date by PM Lee which is thought to be likely in early September (update: September 11). The biggest PAP casualty so far seems to be the Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew who is portrayed as resigning to take the rap (引 咎辞聀)for the SMRT breakdowns. Ministers Lim Swee Say and Vivian Balakhrishnan who were given commendable mention by PM Lee in his Rally speech may have their work cut out in defending their seats because of their poor esteem with the electors.

PM Lee has said in his Rally speech that the coming general election is a critical one and that the PAP is going all out to win the election. He thinks the ground is favourable to the PAP for the general election to be called. This hustings may turn out to be a watershed election.

— Yoong Siew Wah / Singapore Recalcitrant

* Mr. Yoong Siew Wah was the director of Singapore’s Internal Security Department from 1971 to 1974. Before that, he was the director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). Mr Yoong is now retired and blogs at singaporerecalcitrant.blogspot.com.

* Stay educated with some excerpts by Mr. Yoong (Part 1 and Part 2).