Stripping academic of his PR status a ‘rare and odd move’: Global Times
SINGAPORE — The Republic’s stripping of academic Huang Jing’s permanent residency after accusing him of being a foreign agent of influence was “rare and odd”, China’s influential state-owned Global Times said in a report, adding that the incident showcases the government’s poor strategic thinking ability.
“It is not clear if Singapore is suppressing freedom of speech. But Huang’s speech must have antagonised the relevant government, leading to his deportation”, the paper cited China’s CCTV news talkshow host Yang Rui as saying.
Over the weekend, Mr Yang had shared a video of Prof Huang criticising Singapore for making “strategic mistakes” in its dealings with China and the United States.
Speaking on a Chinese current affairs programme earlier this year, he stated that Singapore had expected a global voice to emerge and put pressure on Beijing after the The Hague ruling on the disputed South China Sea.
As coordinator for Association of South-east Asian Nations-China relations, Singapore was afraid of being “left behind” and wanted to rush ahead of the others, he added.
Prof Huang also noted that Singapore thought the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact was feasible and “over-invested” its effort in selling it.
On the US presidential election, he said the Republic believed Hillary Clinton was going to win and supported her bid at the expense of Mr Donald Trump, thinking that she would strengthen then-president Barack Obama’s Asian rebalancing strategy.
Global Times also reported Mr Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, as saying that a public announcement expelling an academic is rare, as it often only applies to diplomatic personnel.
Prof Zhu added that it is also ironic, as Singapore takes much pride in its freedom of speech and open-mindedness, and the country’s policy cannot be simply influenced by a professor or his “privileged information”. Perhaps Prof Huang said something which conflicts with Singapore’s current political weather, Prof Zhu surmised.
Chinese netizens have weighed in on the issue, with some jumping to the academic’s defence. Commenting on the video shared by Mr Yang, a Weibo user claimed that he has interacted with Prof Huang and found his views to be objective and persuasive.
“Different views expressed by international experts, Singapore can choose to accept or not accept them. But to use such a muddled reason to expel him from the country, Singapore’s actions makes it hard for others to be convinced,” the user said.
Another Weibo user added: “Prof Huang was spot on in his analysis. He made Li Jiapo lose face. No wonder Li Jiapo anxiously slapped some trumped-up charges on him.”
The term “Li Jiapo” — referring to Singapore’s name in Chinese, but substituting the first two Chinese characters for “Li Jia” or the “Lee Family” — has been used in China’s social media to mock the Republic.
Last Friday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that Prof Huang had been identified as an “agent of influence of a foreign country”. The Government also revoked the permanent residency of Prof Huang, a US-China expert with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), and his wife, Ms Shirley Yang Xiuping. The couple, who are United States citizens, will not be allowed to re-enter Singapore.
The MHA said he engaged prominent and influential Singaporeans and gave them what he claimed was privileged information about a foreign country, so as to influence their opinions in favour of that country.
The authorities did not identify the foreign country involved. The LKYSPP said later that he has been suspended without pay with immediate effect. He has also resigned as an independent director of Keppel Land. He denies the allegations. AGENCIES