Last week, Dickson Yeo was the #1 trending keyword on the internet, or at least, the Singapore portion of the internet.
But if you thought that’s the last we heard of him, think again.
He’s now back again and apparently, he had tried to get a job in Singapore’s government agencies previously.
Ex-Diplomat Said S’porean Spying for China Has Tried to Apply for Work in S’pore Gov Agencies with Classified Info
This is Berry Desker.
He’s an ex-Singapore diplomat who was an ambassador to Indonesia back in 1986 to 1993 and a non-resident Ambassador to Holy See back in 2007.
And now, he has something to add to the Dickson Yeo drama.
According to Mr Desker, Yeo had tried to get a job with government agencies that will give him access to classified information.
While it wasn’t confirmed if Yeo was acting on instructions from his handlers, which the US seems to think is China, it was “thankful” that Yeo wasn’t selected for the job.
Dickson Yeo A “Typical” Espionage Case
Apparently, ST went around asking experts about their opinion on the Dickson Yeo case and they agreed that it was a “typical” espionage operation.
In fact, they said that this saga, where a person was instructed to spy on a country that isn’t their own, wasn’t uncommon.
This gives the country which gave the orders a chance to say: I don’t know.
Spying is, after all, a facet of international relations.
Yes, James Bond is real.
Mr Kwa Chong Guan, a senior fellow at RSIS who previously worked at the Ministry of Defence, said Yeo’s recruitment was not “notable or exceptional”.
In other words, he was easy.
Possible Repercussions To Singapore
There are relatively few cases where Singaporeans were caught spying on other countries and it still isn’t known yet if it will tarnish the reputation of Singapore.
Here’s a simple example:
Imagine trying to work in Apple, and you know you outshine the other candidates. However, you weren’t chosen because they don’t know if you can be trusted to keep things to yourself.
While no harm was bought to Singapore through this case (he was spying on the US for a country that isn’t Singapore), the time required for Singapore to build trust with other countries might be affected since no one knows (for sure) which Singaporean can be trusted.
“Our diplomats are not excluded from this suspicion. Singaporeans going overseas for university studies, training programmes, internships or applying for jobs will likely be subject to greater scrutiny now.”
Mr Kwa admitted that it is “concerning” how easy it was to recruit a Singaporean for espionage operations.
Now, Specifically Onto Dickson Yeo’s Case
The number one concern that our leaders probably had when Yeo confessed to his misdeed is: will Singapore and the US still be friends?
And the answer, according to experts, is “yes”.
Ong Keng Yong, the executive deputy chairman of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) says the relationship between Singapore and the US is “longstanding” and “robust”.
Singapore’s connection with China is also “well-known”.
But that doesn’t mean we get off scotfree.
Seeing as the world is interconnected, the worse the US-China relationship gets, the more waves will be made; and Singapore (in fact, the entirety of ASEAN) is like a tiny boat trying to survive in the ensuing storms.
Singapore: Third China Of The World
Here’s a TIL moment: Singapore has been trying hard to portray itself as an independent sovereign which works for itself.
- Mr Lee Kuan Yew had declared that Singapore will be the last Asean country to have diplomatic relationships with China.
- Singapore leaders did not want China officials to call them “brethren” (or brothers).
- Mr Lee spoke in English during his first official visit to Beijing.
And Yeo might have put that into jeopardy with his actions.
“We are not a Third China and regard ourselves as part of South-east Asia. Dickson’s actions play into the hands of those who would scurrilously claim that we are a pawn prepared to further China’s interests,”
However, it was admitted that a single case would unlikely lead any rational individual or country to perceive Singapore as a “third China”.
Not much is known about the 39-year-old himself (of course lah: do you know much about James Bond?), but what is understood is that he’s a Singaporean and enrolled as a PhD student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, where he researched China’s framework of treatment for small states along its Belt and Road Initiative trajectory.
This is public information based on NUS’s website.
Yeo preyed on people who are looking to get a job by getting them to write reports “meant for clients in Asia”.
So they wrote the classified information, thinking that they’re going to get a job in Asia. After all, it seems legit since you even received the money for it, and this information would only be sent to, maybe…Nokia?
And that’s how Yeo gathered intel because those reports and resumes are sent to the Chinese Government instead.
All in all, he managed to amass 400 resumes and 90% of them from US military and government personnel with security clearances…all in four years with the help of a website’s algorithm.
If you find the name of the school familiar, it’s because that was where an alleged spy used to teach at.
Another ex-diplomat came out to draw the connection and the alleged recruiter has refuted his words.
Yeo will be sentenced on 9 October 2020.