It is certain that MM Lee Kuan Yew does not find it flattering to be compared with China's Great HelmsmanMao Zedong in greatness. It will be a boost to his ego.
A little injustice, maybe not daily, is in the repertoire of the Minister Mentor and does not cause him any compunction. What is a small injustice to a public officer when the then- prime minister showed no qualms about the prolonged detention of Dr. Lim Hock Siew (19 years) and Chia Thye Poh (32 years). This is as good as any time to revisit the injustices that this public officer suffered at the hand of the Minister Mentor who is now facing an unprecedented crunch to his popularity and career.There is a sonorous call by a discerning public for him to step down as Minister Mentor as he is no longer considered a deserving or appropriate imposition on the taxpayers' fund with his astronomical salary of more than $3 million a year doing nothing but "forecasting".
The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an omnipresent intelligence organisation with its tentacles reaching almost every nook and corner of the earth, not even sparing China. Wayback in 1961 when Singapore was in the turbulent era in the South East Asian region facing ferocious communist agitation, CIA was very desirous to recruit a Special Branch (SB) officer to act as an undercover agent to supply it with with security information on communist threats to Singapore and the region including information of the inner workings of the government.
The identity of the SB officer the CIA intended to recruit cannot be disclosed at this stage because of some arcane twisted working of the then-prime minister's mind, he had refused to identify the officer publicly, apparently for fear that this officer would steal the thunder from him. But it may be to his dismay that this is already public knowledge. Only MM Lee thinks that it is not.
The Special Branch officer was approached by his boyhood buddy to work as an undercover agent for the CIA in 1961. The SB officer sat on it for three days without reporting it to his superior because he was unhappy with the PAP government's oppressive policy against civil servants who were generally English-educated who had not supported the PAP when it was in the opposition. Amongst the PAP's persecutions was the docking of civil servants' pay. I told my superior Mr. Richard Corridon this when I finally reported the CIA approach to him. This was where the injustice arose. The then- prime minister Lee Kuan Yew twisted the officer's reason grotesquely to convey a doubt on the officer's loyalty and integrity. This is what MM Lee said in his memoirs: "The officer found the CIA's offer so attractive that he sat on it for three days before reporting to Richard Corridon". Mr. Corridon unfortunately is no longer in this world and therefore cannot testify to Lee Kuan Yew's dishonesty.It was a glaring insult tothe officer's integrity and it did not seem to bother MM Lee's conscience.
This was not the first time MM Lee had disparaged this officer. The other occasion was when he told an untruth about this officer at the Select Committee Hearing of the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill on 9 October 1986 that this officer had been asked to quit as Director CPIB in connection with the investigations of four detectives by the CPIB following an official complaint by the then-solicitor-general Mr. Francis Seow. The officer was accused of helping out his friend Mr. Francis Seow and had the four detectives sacked. The accusation was a figment of MM Lee's imagination. The officer was able to proof that he had been appointed Director ISD following his stint in CPIB. These were two glaring examples of the recklessless of MM Lee Kuan Yew who had little regard for the truth. Much less was there any apology from a callous MM Lee.
The CIA saga has been mentioned in MM Lee's memoirs. Two CIA polygraph experts brought in specially from Saigon to put the officer through a lie-detector test had been detained. So was a third CIA officer. An undercover first secretary of the American Consulate was declared a persona non grata. A polygraph had been recovered and this is now displayed in the ISD Heritage Centre. The CIA fiasco had sent a shock wave right up to the White House in Washington. The US President then was Mr. John Kennedy. The SB officer was awarded a Meritorous Service Medal and given an accelerated promotion. But the SB officer was not publicly identified though no one after reading this article will have any doubt as to his identity.
The SB officer's embargoed reminiscences contain more vivid accounts of the SB operations in the CIA saga. Well, whether the then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had used this incident as a leverage in his dealings with the Americans is left to the imagination of the public whether he would have let such a golden opportunity to slip by.