Occasionally, there can happen to an unsuspecting person an underbelly attack on his reputation from not entirely unexpected quarter.
Quite frankly, I am baffled by the motive of the ebullient authors of the overhyped political book "Men in White" in giving me unflattering mention in it. Whilst it is purported to give an objective history of the PAP struggle I wonder what have I got to do with the intra-party struggle. Anyway, in page 441 of the book the ambitious authors made the following unverified disparaging statement about me under the sub heading "Another Foreign Hand" : "But in 1971, after a police raid on his (Francis Seow's) woman friend's apartment, he used his influence and friendship with the then director of the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau, Yoong Siew Wah, to have the four officers who had conducted the raid sacked. The attorney-general Tan Boon Teik intervened to reinstate the four officers. Seow was allowed to resign rather than have his actions investigated because of his track record in the Legal Service. Yoong was also asked to quit."
On 28-9-09 I wrote to the Chief Executive Officer of the Singapore Press Holdings drawing his attention to this disparaging statement about me and requesting that a correction be made in his newspaper. I explained that the CPIB was duty-bound to investigate all formal complaints. Mr. Francis Seow made a formal complaint and CPIB carried out investigations of the four detectives. The investigation papers were sent to the Deputy Commissioner of Police who made the decision to dismiss the detectives. There was a prima facie case against the detectives. There was no question that I was asked to quit. I was appointed Director of Internal Security Department following my CPIB stint.
My letter was passed to Mr. Richard Lim, one of the three authors of the book. Mr. Lim replied on 1 October that the material for the disparaging statement was taken from a speech made by the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the Select Committee Hearing of the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill which was published in the Straits Times on 10 October 1986 of which a copy was attached.
It did not come as a surprise to me as the then PM Lee Kuan Yew was like a god to some people and the accuracy of his denigration of a person's reputation was invariably taken at its face value. That he made the disparaging statement about me in the heat of the moment without regard to its accuracy in his heated exchange with a cool-headed eloquent Francis Seow at the Select Committee Hearing could not be ruled out. He is not unknown to have behaved erratically with venom in his speech when highly agitated. He was obviously so infuriated by Mr. Francis Seow's biting taunts that it escaped his normally lucid mind that I was not boarded out but appointed Director ISD after my CPIB stint. It was subsequently pointed out to him but humility is not his forte and he has not been known as one to apologise for his mistakes. Mr. Richard Lim, one of the authors, has assured me that he would add a line after the sentence that I was also asked to quit to indicate that I was actually appointed Director ISD after my CPIB stint in his next and future editions of the book in order to be fair to me.
It was reported that the then attorney-general Mr. Tan Boon Teik intervened to have the four detectives reinstated. Very gallant of him. He must have read the CPIB file on the investigations and could not have missed that the dismissal of the four detectives was made by the Deputy Commissioner of Police. How the then PM Lee Kuan Yew was given the impression that I had the four detectives unlawfully dismissed is something I would like to get to the bottom of.
Mr. Francis Seow was the solicitor-general at the time when I was director CPIB. He had overall supervision of CPIB investigation files sent to his department for final direction. That I should have had a cordial relation with Mr. Francis Seow was natural in human relationship development. For the then PM Lee Kuan Yew or for that matter the attorney-general Mr. Tan Booin Teik to give a sinister connotation to such a relationship seemed to raise doubt as to the soundness of the detractors' mind. Why should the affinity between Mr. Francis Seow and me be seen as something unwholesome?
The most decent thing for the Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to do now is to undo the harm he has caused me and to restore my reputation. But will he?