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Death in Singapore (ft.com)
459 points by Lightning on Feb 16, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 233 comments



I'm a Singaporean and have served for some time in the military( Compulsory National Service as well as a short stint as a regular) and I think that the comments below seem to misunderstand the level of control that the government has over speech, people and companies in Singapore.

We have many restrictive laws here but they are very selectively enforced. As long as you stay away from "hot" topics such as direct criticism of the ruling party and sensitive issues such as immigration, you are ok. But if you make too many waves, there are many ways in which such selective enforcement can come back to bite you.

On an individual level, you will get much more attention on things like your tax returns. Your Provident Fund usage can be limited in many ways(It is a opaque system and they don't need to give you any justifications)

If you own a company, it will also be subject to a much higher tax scrutiny. They can choke your company by limiting the number of foreign talent that you can hire( again an opaque process). They can reject your applications without any reasons and simply say better luck next year.

Even with all these pressures, Singapore is a great place to do business and just enjoy a generally high quality of life as long as you don't do anything foolhardy or get really unlucky with the cards that you get dealt.

On a side note, if the person in question above was involved in some tricky business, then I would not put it past this government to take drastic measures


Singaporeans: "We have high quality of life!" "We have relative freedom of speech!" "We are modern!"

Rest of world: Singaporeans pay top dollar for tiny apartments, have no nature, no drugs (and thus little art), no real political freedom, are forced to military service (read: military brain washing on top of the social/education system serving) and self-censor routinely whilst claiming their government is really OK! On top of this, they are all kind of insecure because the way work is omnipresent, everyone competes all the time on appearances, the extreme financial burden of having a kid there (even though few do, because they are educated enough to know it's a death sentence of decades of mortgage, even with the government kickbacks) and the increasing immigration of younger, better Mandarin-speaking, less demanding workers from China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.


Singapore, a tiny piece of land with no resources, has been transformed over 50 years from a colonial backwater into a first world country. People once in poverty now live much more comfortable lives. Of course things could be better but the issues you raise are no different from the issues people face in other countries and major cities.


Maybe I'm out of my scope in your points about nature or political freedom as I haven't really experienced life in other countries enough to comment but I would like to explain the military part a bit more.

True it is compulsory but I think that a great majority of the people who experience it are better off for it. Our country has the highest rate of millionaires(1 in 6) and the kids that come from these households are much better off for the work ethic, value of money and socialization that we instill in them. The training that they go through may not be as rigorous as those who go through full spectrum military training in other countries but it teaches them mental discipline and the ability to give and take orders(20% of each years' intake go on to become commanders) which I'm sure you would agree too many kids learn far too late in their lives. It also has the side effect of providing baseline physical fitness, allowing for a much healthier population in the long run.


Pains me to agree, but spot on.


have no nature

Have you been to Singapore? It wasn't nicknamed "The Garden City" for its skyscrapers.


You are exhibiting some insane cognitive dissonance there. Your post is internally inconsistent. Singapore is Disneyland with a death penalty.


I'm pretty sure that the nation in which Disneyland is located still has a death penalty.

I really appreciate arbus's comment. You're right that it doesn't hang together in a completely rational way, but it is a rare accurate illustration of how Singaporeans really feel. For an empathetic person, it isn't hard to imagine feeling this way, if you grew up there.

People in other countries also have idiosyncratic ways of tolerating the limitations of their systems. Singapore is perhaps an extreme case.

(I lived in Singapore for a couple of years, a long time ago.)


As I said in another post, I grew up in Singapore. I've been in Australia now for a decade or so.

I prefer having more freedoms to less, but in retrospect I quite like the way of life there. There's nothing that I do or have done that would have landed me in trouble in Singapore.

So for a lot of these average people, it's great.


> I'm pretty sure that the nation in which Disneyland is located still has a death penalty.

I didn't know our Disney resorts had the death penalty for certain offenses committed within the park.


He means Florida still kills people.

At the very least though to Florida's credit, at least Amnesty International is confident that they can get a solid read on the number of people actually killed by Florida. There are grave concerns over even the reporting of executions in Singapore.


Yes I realized that. I was just pointing out that the post above him meant a "Disneyland with the death penalty". He probably realized that as well, I just didn't care for his sarcasm.


Sure its a Disneyland with a death penalty if you want to call it that but you seem to be implying that either I'm in acceptance with the way things are run or if I'm not, I have no business living here.

I think that uprooting from your home, leaving your family, friends and culture behind takes more than just disagreement with the wayyour government is run. This is of course assuming that you or your loved ones are not in immediate danger of any kind.


It's hard to understand, isn't it?

However, I feel the same about where I live... Fiji. We're run by a dictator at present, but you wouldn't know it unless you got involved in anti-government "activities".


In communist Poland it was basically the same... The ruling cronies didn't care about you as long as you didn't threaten their power.


Or unless you were a New Zealander who funded the new constitution only to have it thrown away at a cost of millions.


Well in his defense, he's posting from Singapore. Who knows if he has VPN or not.


Thank you for sharing your perspective. I hope you can understand why many reading it will find this depiction quite non-utopic.


Not the first death of that kind in Singapore:

"Family suspects interference in David Widjaja case"

http://sgforums.com/forums/3317/topics/363855

"However, it appeared the court process was intentionally directed to a conclusion of suicide despite evidence showing a strong possibility of murder, according to David's family and the verification team.

"We have strong evidence that he was murdered but that fact was not brought up in the court," David's father, Hartono Wijaya, told a press conference Tuesday at the National Commission on Human Rights."

[...]

"He added there was a suspicion David's death was related to his research: "Multiview Acquisition from Multi-camera Configuration for Person Adaptive 3D Display".

"His friends said his three-dimensional study could be used for various purposes, either for entertainment or even for military needs."

"And we must not forget that after David's death, there were two unusual deaths at NTU - his professor's assistant *committed suicide' four days later and another researcher was hit by a car 25 days later.""

EDITED: Having read more about the specific case, it seems to me that the official story sounds plausible enough. It's not at all clear whether there was foul play involved.


Absolutely chilling. What are the odds of being hit by a car in Singapore? One would think that, given so few people have them and that there are so few roads large enough to speed down, with the culture being so conservative, drugs near-absent and surveillance omnipresent, that it would be rare indeed; further, it would be trivial to catch the perpetrator. Were they caught in this case? Not, I suppose. It feels as if western state-assisted assassinations of civilians are becoming a more frequently documented reality, and not just for CIA rendition, UAV or economic sanction victims, either.


Let's see what the statistics have to say, first for Singapore:

"Total pedestrian fatalities dropped from 49 in 2011 to 44 in 2012" [1] Singapores' population is ~5 million[wikipedia], so the odds of being killed by a car for the total population is ~0.00088%

For a comparison let's look at NYC, which has roughly double the population within City Limits (~8 million for NYC):

"From 2002 to 2006, 843 pedestrians were killed"[2] That's ~211 deaths per year. Making the percentage odds ~0.0026375%

So you're about 1/3 as likely to be hit and killed by a car in Singapore than NYC. That's fairly significant, but there are a couple things to point out. NYC does have a significantly higher population density and I would assume it has a higher amount of vehicle traffic.

I think overall while it's clearly less likely to be killed as a pedestrian in Singapore, I wouldn't exactly call it "rare". And while I'm no professional on Singapore, I don't know why you characterize Singapore as somewhere that doesn't have large roads or many vehicles (There are 965,192 vehicles in Singapore[1]). Also I don't think CCTV is nearly as ubiquitous as you think, from the few news articles I've read they probably only have a few thousand with more only starting to roll-out recently[3][4]. It's certainly not up to London standards, and I doubt even there ever single pedestrian death is caught by CCTV.

[1]http://driving-in-singapore.spf.gov.sg/services/driving_in_s...

[2]http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/nyc_ped_safety_stu...

[3]http://www.safetrolley.com/latest-news/singapore-police-inst...

[4]http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1S...


I don't see how NY is relevant at all. Perhaps this is relevant, though:

"With a population of 5 million, Singapore has one of the world's highest per capita execution rates. While official figures are not produced, according to Amnesty International there have been at least 400 executions over the past two decades." - The Guardian, 2010-11-16, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/...


I dont know much about these cases, but having lived in singapore you are just as likely to be hit by a fast moving car as anywhere. I saw people running across the ~4 lane orchard rd all the time while shopping.


I agree. I was almost hit by a truck while crossing Orchard at Grange.


Sorry but this is rather ignorant. Enough people have cars and the roads are definitely wide enough, just like anywhere else, for traffic accidents to occur regularly. Surveillance might be omnipresent, but it's not a CCTV state like the UK.


s/UK/London


Birmingham, and Manchester too. Birmingham has the everywhere in the ring road covered thing going on. Manchester just seems like it.


Singapore has many wide roads for a city, substantial traffic, reasonable speed limits, and many intersections with at least one crossing having no crosswalk or pedestrian signals.

In the short time I have lived in Singapore, there were two kids killed by a truck, and I've seen two or three roadside signs appealing for witnesses to accidents with serious or fatal injuries.

So it's pretty much like other places. People can get hurt, and big brother is not all-seeing just yet.


>> It feels as if western state-assisted assassinations of civilians are becoming a more frequently documented reality

And when were they documented the first time? It's much more plausible to believe that you are paid by the Chinese government to spread that rumor than to believe what you've written.


Is hitting someone by car really a plausible method? Do they just drive round the block over and over until they see the guy?


Definitely plausible. They know that he crosses the road at certain times. So they park a car nearby. As he's approaching the road, the car driver is notified and tries to hit him.

Or - they can simply kill him in other way and report that he was hit by car.


Why would you need to drive around the block over and over? Cars can be parked.


I'm guessing this is if you need to pull off the hit in NYC or San Francisco.


It's pretty easy to track a person without being detected, it's probably a little harder than deer hunting, but it's not impossible.


Not knowing much about it, I would assume that tracking people would be easier so long as you're in civilization. A deer would be suspicious at the site of any human at all. A human only becomes suspicious if they notice the same human more than once.


Fellow hackers: stay away from anything connected to the defence industry. Security might be fun, it might pay well, but the ethics are terrible, things get used for bad purposes, and you can easily lose your freedom or worse.


Shane Todd worked for the IME, a globally regarded research organisation based in a country that scored higher in the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index than the U.S. (87, #5 versus 73, #19) [1]. If he worked for the defence industry then so would an Oracle engineer deployed at Northrup Grumman or a SpaceX engineer in competing with Lockheed Martin.

[1] http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2012/results/


Lower corruption just means nobody risks their neck for relatively small amounts. For higher prices most are still for sale. If they offered the officers involved the equivalent of $50K each to cover it up, then it doesn't matter whether it's Germany, the US or Singapore: there is a reasonable chance they would succeed. And if a government (and Huawei, like any other Chinese company, is basically Chinese oligarchy/government property) is involved, money is not a problem.


What does corruption have anything to do with this? I would think it's largely irrelevant.

And also, you're right, those people do work in the defense industry.


Working in any industry in Pakistan or Nigeria (both #139 on the Corruptions Perceptions Index) is probably going to be more life-threatening than working for the Danish, Finnish, or Kiwi (tied for #1) defence establishments.


It may be relatable at extremes like you mentioned, but I'd have to see more evidence of a direction relationship between corruption and safety. Of course countries with little to no government will be more corrupt on some NGO's index.


Observing the 2012 Corruptions Perceptions Index scores [1] and the latest year United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime intentional homicide rates [2], one finds an an exponential relationship between the two with an intercept (homicide rate per 100 000) of 19.9, slope of -0.033, and regression coefficient of 0.25 (N=176). See chart [3].

Murder is the most vivid example without adjustmenting for income, but one can trace similar patterns across ambulance response times, food quality, transport efficiency, etc. Transparency International's report on their metric is a good starting point.

[1] http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2012/results/

[2] http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/...

[3] http://imgur.com/a1N5WXm chart!


Being higher in the corruption perceptions index really means people in that country are consistently better at hiding it, so outsiders perceive it less.


I live in New Zealand and notice corruption here, and way more of it when I go overseas. It is less corrupt here.


From the little I know, corruption in Nigeria is usually about bribery, not murder.


I think the theory is that murder is an easier/safer/cheaper option in nations where the police are easily bribed.


I'm quite comfortable in defense. There are good reasons to avoid doing direct operations contracting for the USG (bureaucracy, inefficiency, etc.), but if you can just sell products, it's fine.

The USG doesn't tend to assassinate its contractors.


Some might see that as a bit of a head-in-sand perspective; ie. one that conveniently avoids considering the onward effects of one's actions. You could equate it to the situation vegetarians often encounter, ie. people that say eating meat is OK because the animal is dead already, or because it was farmed to be food, or some such. In such cases, the animals are farmed and killed (often under horrible conditions) because some people pay to fund that industry by buying the meat and others work within it as butchers, cattlemen, industrial vets, transport operators, cleaners, accountants, etc. to facilitate the scale and depth of suffering imposed upon the animals. Similarly, working in an industry based around killing, torturing, pressuring, wounding, imprisoning, spying, and other negative activities targeted at human beings also directly contributes to those activities.

One perspective on this type of activity is that of early Buddhism, which 2500 odd years ago summarized that one should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison. — AN 5.177 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma...


I believe there are moral uses of the military. I am not a pacifist (nor am I a vegetarian, nor a Buddhist). I don't think most people in the world are.

(It's great that you are or seem to be, though, if that works for you. The world I'd be most afraid of would be where 99% of people were pacifist and 1% were sociopaths, though)


Amen, my friend.

Money: not fuckin' worth it.


Counter perspective: I used to work in robotics and really the majority of the jobs are in defense or defense related. There are a handful (less now that willow garage is closing down) of robotics companies that do civilian work. Sometimes it is not just about the money.


I don't work in the field I have a degree in. You have to judge these things against your own morals and ethics and decide whether working in your field is actually even a good thing.


Faith in Humanity: +1pt


Mrs Todd read the notes and handed them back to the detective. “My son might have killed himself, but he did not write this,” she said with some calm.

The notes were surprising, she said later. One praised IME and its management. Another apologised for being a burden to his family. Neither sounded like Shane. One, Shane had never been a burden – “he had excelled at everything he put his mind to,” Mrs Todd said. Two, “he hated the way IME was run and the way top management treated people.” Shane’s girlfriend later said she was sure Shane’s last moments were not spent lauding IME. “He hated his job,” she said.

It's always amazing how in (possible) conspiracies like this, the perpetrators make one simple mistake that so clearly gives the whole thing away.


The "being a burden to his family" bit really stuck out to me. That is something that has been deeply embedded into east Asian culture for a long time and would not be at all strange for an Asian to say. On the other hand, it's not something you usually hear from someone brought up in America.


I am not Asian but it the idea of praising your company's leadership, even on the brink of death, seems stereotypical "east Asian culture"ish too doesn't it?


"By the way, Bob (who definitely did not kill me and fake it as a suicide) should get a promotion and maybe even a Christmas bonus this year for his excellent work!"


I'm amazed at how many elite-school tech types idolize Singapore for some strange reason. I've heard a number of gushing recommendations for the place from the MIT/Harvard set.

I personally see it as some kind of horrible sci-fi "Stepford Wives" "smile or die" dystopia... like a yuppie latte-sipping upscale version of North Korea. It makes me thankful for ghettoes and dirt and bums, given the alternative.


I'm amazed at how many people romanticize ghettoes, dirt, and bums. Breaking and entering, rape, murder, homelessness, and human feces on the street are pretty common in areas of San Francisco. They aren't common in Singapore. I consider that a win for Singapore. I would love for a young Lee Kwan Yew to run San Francisco for a year or ten.

People change their minds when it happens to them. It feels fine to romanticize some abstract ghetto. But when your female friend posts on Facebook how someone tried to rape her in the Mission district when she went out for a night, or when your car is the one with its window smashed in so someone can steal the earbuds you left laying out, then you yearn for a more civilized society.

You say that Singapore is an "upscale version of North Korea", but in what ways? First of all, there is no upscale version of North Korea by definition since communism can never produce a high standard of living. Singapore's economy went from the third world to the first world in a single generation while North Korea has languished in squalor.

In Singapore, we see a country that is very well run. It has a low burden of regulation and taxation with a great social safety net. And it is very safe and open to the world. In what ways is it similar to North Korea again?


Just because you don't romanticize Singapore, does not mean you do romanticize San Francisco. I personally only romanticize Switzerland.

(This is turning into Libertarian bingo.)


I agree with the vast majority of your comment, but please stop saying that North Korea is communist and that "communism can never produce a high standard of living." the former is patently false - North Korea is a Juche (which is not communist) dictatorship that uses communist theory as a carrot to keep its population hopeful. Read the Communist Manifesto if you doubt me.

The latter is unknown, as there has never been a true communist country (this isn't a "No True Scotsman fallacy" - a true state of communism is pretty clearly defined in the Manifesto).

I don't consider myself a communist (if anything more of a socialist) but reading this sort of FUD about communism is almost as painful as reading about blind hate for socialism in America.


My price for listening to communist apologists is that they explain how their version of the theory will avoid the millions of deaths that happened in Ukraine, China, and Cambodia, among others. 20th century communism was a true horror. You have your work cut out for you.

I consider it an indictment of the modern academy that the gross crimes of communism are constantly deemphasized and excused.


Those crimes weren't committed by communist states, but by totalitarian dictatorships. The true challenge for the communist is to explain how they would create a communist state without having it fall to dictatorship, as every single country it's been tried in has.


I don't know. I mean, in theory those that call themselves communists and act as flagbearers of communism would be communists. Just like those which call themselves capitalists and act like capitalists are capitalists whether or not that deviates from "pure, theoretical {communism|capitalism}". It's a distinction without a difference, in practice. It's like saying, well, priests who molested aren't really priests because priests aren't supposed to do that, according to any doctrine.


I'll gladly own up to the results of impure capitalism (e.g. the United States, Singapore, most of the West, especially the anglosphere) if web/academic communists own up to the results of impure Communism (e.g. the Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba)


for some strange reason

Singapore is a thriving metropolis with negligible crime and essentially no graffiti, has the third-highest per-capita income in the world, and manages to govern four major ethnic groups without devolving into pogroms or race riots. Is it really so strange to idolize such a place?

Singapore does have the death penalty for a few too many things, I'll admit, but you're not likely to get the ax for carrying a little weed. (You might get caned, though.) It's also true that it has laws against homosexuality, but (as with the many US states that have anti-sodomy laws on the books) they're essentially never enforced. Singapore also has no meaningful democracy, but this is a feature, not a bug. (I'll fear the worst if the quasi-communist Workers' Party ever wrests control from the ruling People's Action Party.)

like a yuppie latte-sipping upscale version of North Korea

North Korea is a prison state with the 197th highest income per capita. Singapore lets you leave any time and allows you to become a permanent resident by paying a small fee (~$150) to start a corporation, which then hires you.

Singapore and North Korea are alike the way 18th century Prussia and 1930s Germany were alike: ruled, in effect, by a single individual. But Frederick the Great was no Hitler, and the Yews are no Kims. Do you really not see the difference between Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Il Sung, just because neither is Barack Obama?

I personally see it

Have you personally seen it? Spend an evening strolling around Marina Bay some time (don't miss the Hooters!) and see if it fills you with longing for ghettoes and dirt and bums—or for the famines and death marches of its putative Korean doppelgänger.


N.B. I should have written "Lees" instead of "Yews", as Lee Kuan Yew (born "Harry Lee") uses the Chinese (and Korean) convention of listing the family name first. His successor as Singapore's prime minister is his son Lee Hsien Loong, much as Kim Il Sung's successor was Kim Jong Il.


This perspective focusses on our cultural preferences, but there Singapore has very liberal immigration policies relative to other rich countries, providing many from more impoverished neighboring countries a route to advancement.

Also note that its human development index is higher than the UK's, so we're talking about a country that, on paper, is extremely good at providing for its residents: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Deve...

From an American perspective of course, these things are not impressive: we don't need green cards since we are free to work anywhere in a giant, highly-advanced, not-particularly-repressive society. But from the perspective of someone living in, say, Indonesia, where living standards are very low, the possibility of immigrating Singapore could potentially be a godsend.

Obviously it's shady what happened to the guy in op's article, but it's not like there is some other magical country where nothing bad every happened to anyone.


I didn't say it was the worst place on Earth. There are obviously a lot of candidates for that, and I can see how people from some surrounding regions would prefer it. But it's definitely not something to idolize unless you really love a micromanaging surveillance state with ridiculously unbalanced penalties for petty and victimless crimes.

As this story suggests, it's also an authoritarian oligarchy in which you have no real rights and can be "disappeared."

I honestly found it disturbing to see it idolized by smart people. Do they have no appreciation for cultural freedom? Or do they really believe that yuppie upscale boutique fascism is an ideal worth aspiring to?

Seriously, watch a film called THX-1138. "Buy, and be happy..." Sometimes I think politicians watch dystopian films and think "wow! that's a great idea! I never thought of that."

Learn to appreciate your local ghetto. Like the song says: you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone.


And you're not some sort of "intellectual" idolizing ghettos? I have to go in and around one very often, and hearing "learn to appreciate your local ghetto" from some Random Internet Dude is almost farcical.


I lived in a few 'ghettos' for years, growing up.

Yes, there is crime, yes, bad things can happen. But I fear the ghetto very little even now. I am a Caucasian, although that should not matter.

If I was a women, I might fear the ghetto, but I might fear parking garages and late night walks, too.

That says something about our society.

Still, I fear living in a state like Singapore more than I fear a ghetto.


Well, you probably never(?) lived in a state like Singapore. You are basing your fears only on stories like this. Imagine the opposite way around, Singaporeans probably fear more about living in a ghetto than their own state.


I find that libertarian types love it. Its dystopia is closer to their own dystopia.


I think you're either confusing Singapore or libertarians with something else. Singapore is a surveillance and censorship happy city state that China aspires to become.


Are you sure you meant libertarians? I don't see how anything about Singapore would fit in with libertarian ideology...


"Libertarian" has just become lingo for "people with political ideologies that I consider fringe". You can find people calling anarchist ideologies "libertarian" while also finding people willing to call those who dream of Singapore libertarians. There is not rhyme nor reason to it.


Low tax rates, low burden of regulation, market-oriented systems for traditionally government-provided services (tolls for driving, making individuals bear a proportionate amount of the cost of health care), more individual control over government old-age savings system.


Sounds more neoliberal than libertarian.


They banned chewing gum for the longest time. Singapore definitely isn't socially libertarian.


Most chewing gum is still banned [1]. This, however, is almost never enforced in practice.

On the flip side, public drinking and prostitution are legal in Singapore.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chewing_gum_ban_in_Singapore


I know it's anecdotal like your own post but I saw an Anthony Bourdain Singapore episode and he said it was one of the worst possible places for libertarians like himself. I know I hate it.


Refactor, bless, autovivicate: "...I personally see it as some kind of horrible sci-fi "Stepford Wives" "smile or die" dystopia... like a yuppie latte-sipping upscale version of North Korea. It makes me thankful for ghettoes and dirt and bums, given the alternative...", and encapsulate into a black walnut shell, and let yc help you plant and grow it. Or at least, you've a screenplay kernel.


Lol. At least it's an easy place to start and do business. What would happen if you tried that in North Korea?


Obviously the ability to start and do business is the only thing that's important! What? I'm only allowed to eat government-supplied food cubes? Who cares! </sarcasm>


I find it hard to believe that a highly capitalistic culture would not have a large variety of choice in food. I think you are confusing the results of economic freedom with its opposite.


This story is all over my FB wall. Rest assured there are many concerned Singaporeans listening, and it'll be harder to ignore this case now that the FT has brought it to the world's attention. I'd like to hear the IME and police's side of the story, though - hopefully a higher body will conduct a proper investigation to settle the facts and determine motives.

We rarely get serious cases of cover-ups being exposed, so if this is the real deal, it'll be a very interesting one, especially if it concerns foreign governments.


wondering why didn't the person possibly looking/cleaning the evidence from the harddrive take it with him in the first place? Isn't Suspense theory indicating something deeper?

> Hours later, in the middle of the night, someone went into Shane’s hard drive and accessed five folders, all labelled IME. ... Since the time of Shane’s death is uncertain, Massoud could not say who looked at the IME files. > But Massoud found activity, again, on several more IME files on the night of June 27, three days after Shane’s body was found. He said someone looked at IME folders – including one labelled “Supervisor” and one labelled “Goal Setting”

Edit: Usually the actual suspect would want to remove the evidence itself – in this case, the harddrive is carefully tampered with. Still the contained information is enough to put the blaim on a party – or the actual accuser is more profound than it is semed?


It's possible that his laptop, with the external hard drive, was accessed remotely, and that the "speaker" was simply removed by the police when they took the laptop. If it was on a corporate network (as it would be if he used it to back up data) then they might well have been exposed to some form of corporate spyware. Of course, we can't know with the computer under wraps.


> But Massoud found activity, again, on several more IME files on the night of June 27, three days after Shane’s body was found. He said someone looked at IME folders – including one labelled “Supervisor” and one labelled “Goal Setting” ... One file in particular was opened and closed but closed improperly so that a “shadow” file was created. That shadow file was then deleted by the same person. Massoud located the original file on the drive – it was a PowerPoint presentation of the “Layer structure and summary of Veeco grown HEMT wafer”. This contains the scientific formula – a specific recipe – for enhancing a GaN chip. “In that two-minute window, someone is perusing. Something is happening. And it’s not automated, it’s a person.”

Certainly harddrive is again manipulated long after it had been detached from the laptop by police.


Does anybody else wonder how an external hard drive could be mistaken as a speaker ? Seems quite improbable to me that police would remove the laptop but not the external hard drive attached to it. Also, once the owner died, how could the laptop continued to make backup of the files inside, enough for them to know that there was an 'attacker' who accessed those files? This suggests that there's some form of automatic backup script running in the background AND the laptop had been turned on throughout AND connected to the external hard drive. Up to the moment of 'recovery' by the police, who stupidly failed to notice this ?

Whenever we watch Holywood hacking movies, we couldn't help but notice the hilarious 'techie' scene. However, there shouldn't be such consistencies in this article because this is supposed to be based on reality.


There's a picture in the article - it's in a dock, almost vertical but leaning back at a slight angle, which makes it look a bit like a speaker. Direct link to the image: http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/bb2e144a-7653-11e2-8e...


Ah I see. Yes it does resemble a speaker then. Was viewing the article from mobile, and all the images were stripped out. Still, several things in the article couls probably be attributed to the Singaporean police force's incompetence and not outright malice. Being corruption-free != being competent. The family didn't help either by withholding evidence. They should have created a mirror of the external drive, then handed the original to the police (instead of offering to do it the other way around).


The family didn't help either by withholding evidence. They should have created a mirror of the external drive, then handed the original to the police (instead of offering to do it the other way around).

This is ridiculous. The Todds lost their son. The police did a desultory job of investigating his death, and the family have the drive only because of how poorly the police secured the scene. On what planet do the Todds owe the police anything?


Randomly, I got curious on what drive it was, and it may have been a Seagate GoFlex Pro Ultraportable: http://www.seagate.com/sg/en/external-hard-drives/portable-h... (look under the Performance tab)

I'm not sure what powers the Singapore police may have, especially since the Todds may already be out of the country, but they certainly didn't have any problems persuading a filmmaker to turn over her phone, laptop and desktop for an investigation: http://spuddings.net/2013/02/07/mha-investigates-ex-bus-driv...


Haha, I had just assumed it was one of the thousands of no-brand devices available cheap at Sim Lim Square. It wouldn't be odd not to recognize a drive in whatever cheap plastic case was available: it might actually be a case molded originally for a speaker!

Thanks for the Spuddings link; that is fascinating. I especially appreciated the complaint about non-uniformed vs uniformed police. Due to a quirk of technology adoption around the time I lived in Singapore (i.e. everyone else was already on mobile phones), you could be reasonably certain that every Chinese man in his 40s-50s with sensible shoes and a pager on his belt was plainclothes police. It was amusing to watch them watching, and I can confirm the complaint that they paid more attention to Asian residents on labor visas than to anyone else. You would never see a clutch of skinny Indian guys walking around, without one of the plainclothes guys trailing them by twenty yards.


I have the exact same drive pictured, it is a "Seagate FreeAgent Go": http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-FreeAgent-Portable-External-ST...

I've got it in black, it came with the dock pictured, and it actually looks quite a bit like a speaker when standing, because the lights at its base that indicate activity look like grille holes when they're dark.


The alleged crime happened in a foreign and independent country, where they have no choice but to play by the rules of that country. That's why. Non-cooperation just makes it worse, ensuring that nothing at all gets done.


When in-country, Todd's followed the rules. They were in Singapore to collect their son's possessions, and they did that. This saved the Singapore police and/or the landlord from having to sell or throw away those possessions. If there were any way for them to do the police's job of investigating the incident, I'm sure they would have attempted that as well, since clearly the police abdicated that responsibility.

Now they're in the USA, and Singapore's rules no longer apply to them.

The police can do anything with a disk image they could have done with the original disk, except tamper with the evidence. If they still claim to require the original disk, that clearly demonstrates their intentions.


I see why you never "get" them. It looks like they are pretty good at covering up.


Sounds like a classic case of corporate murder.

In the cozy world of web startups, we engineers have an incredible amount of freedom and control over our lives and what we do... but megacorps and companies connected to the defense/war industry are known for treating their engineers as fungible resources that can easily be disposed of once they get the job done. Sounds like something out of a hi-tech Tom Clancy spy novel? Think again, things like this happen for real, there's your proof.

Like someone else said here, stay away from that industry altogether. For the people in control of that industry, engineers aren't super ninja rockstars like they would be at a Silicon Valley startup, they are just means to an end.


>> Sounds like a classic case of corporate murder.

No, it sounds like a case of Chinese government murder, something they have plenty of experience with. They must have known that there was a good chance that he would talk to the US government. The more interesting aspect is that the IME, a agency of the Singaporean government, would appear to be in on at least the suppression of the story.


Just wondering who had more at stake here: the Chinese Gov't or the US Gov't? If he was the one guy with the skills and knowledge (at IME) capable of operating this device, and his work was a potential national security threat to the US, then wouldn't they have more motive to kill him than China?

I don't think it would have come as much of a surprise to the US that China is interested in cutting-edge semiconductor tech, nor would be the details of what IME was up to. I don't see much of an upside for China killing him, shedding tons of light on his work, and Huwei's dealings with IME, plus losing their top specialist. They tend to just blanket deny things when caught red-handed anyway.


Considering his "suicide" happened on the last day of work at IME and he was coming home to the US, it would seem the cat was out of the bag on that one.


To a policeman the explanation is always fairly simple. Murder's not common in Singapore, especially not 'corporate' murder but suicide is.


If IME has a lucrative partnership with Huawei, then there might be incentive to keep it alive.


Western educated engineers are a dime a dozen in Asia for companies with large bank. White folks probably have a very confused view on this when they head out to Asia for work.


Interesting. Could you, please, elaborate on this? I would like to learn more about this issue so any good sources of information would be highly appreciated.


I am a part of Shane's family, and I can tell you all from my perspective there is no way Shane committed suicide. He was an incredibly talented and above all optimistic young man. That is not to say that individuals with these qualities do not meet this type of end, but that suicide did not fit at all with the reality of Shane's life.

When Shane's death was ruled a suicide by the Singapore police I was deeply shocked but felt that I had no option but to accept it. However, as more details emerged it soon became clear that his death was not his own doing.

It is still incredibly upsetting that Shane's parents Rick and Mary may never have the answers and closure that they (we all) need. Please spread the word as best you can about this story. Please be careful with yourselves, wherever your careers may bring you.


William Gibson writes this plot repeatedly


> The Todds agree that Shane’s hard drive may be a critical piece of evidence in how he died and could shed fresh light on the vulnerabilities of technology safeguards. But they question how the Singapore police have so far investigated Shane’s death, so they won’t hand over the drive. They are offering, instead, to send a copy of the contents of the drive.

Good. This is pretty much the only sane way to handle digital evidence, anyway.


Shane had no place taking home a copy of his work computer. Didn't deserve what happened, but that was just foolish... unless he was an informant.


If he was fearing for his life, he could have been intending to use it as insurance.


Until you realize they're sending a logical copy with no hash of the original.


It's possible the hitmen could have cloned the drive, bought a replica, mirrored the contents and deleted any incriminating evidence, the parents are probably not advanced enough to know the difference between a file and a browser.

I'd look for evidence that the hard drive shows evidence of usage by the victim here.


Quote1 [But the stress made him come back to God, she said. “Mom, can we pray?” Shane asked in April. “If I survive this, Father, I want to live my life to serve you.”]

I find it odd that the Todd family did not invoke the attention of US gov earlier. They argue that Shane Todd had been anxious and feared for his life for some time before his death. Had that been the case, and Shane Todd was unable to leave Singapore due to his situation, surely the US gov should've been informed of the situation and help transfer Shane back to the US. The US gov would also have had an interest in doing so since Shane Todd had reported to his mother that he was possibly compromising the security of his home land due to his research in Singapore.

Quote2 [“He said he felt he was being asked to compromise American security.”]

Quote1 indicates Shane means to dedicate his life to 'God'(phrased Father) if he survives. I assume that any parent hearing their child stating this would immediately take action as to save the life of their child and thus contact some instance of US gov.


Someone who worried he was harming national security and then continued at his position for any time could face repercussions from the USA government for that. Obviously in hindsight it would have been better to get Shane out of the whole situation by any means necessary. In general, however, you shouldn't get FBI files started on your loved ones. After all, what would seem more likely: that one will be hassled by the FBI after one's mother calls the FBI, or that one's widely-respected first-world-government-affiliated employer will orchestrate one's murder upon resignation?


Huawei has been deemed a security risk by powerful US lawmakers

Shane had deep misgivings about the project he was working on and feared he was compromising US national security

The fact he didn't walk away in the first moment he felt this way, most likely means one of the US agencies killed him. We are apparently already allowed to kill citizens without trial when they are not on US soil.

Well written article though and the presentation was helpful.


This is the first conclusion I came to as well. Some entity in the US would have the strongest motive. Possibly number two could be IME, if there's something they're trying to hide. Claims that it was perpetrated by China and/or the Singapore gov't hold less water for me.


What is to be gained from killing an IME employee on the last day of his employment with IME?


Sounds like your not taking your meds - a us citizen who has joined terry taliban and in a war zone is not the same as having doubts about working for Huawei.

The obvious thing to do in such circumstances is to offer your services to the CIA as an inside source.


> The fact he didn't walk away in the first moment he felt this way, most likely means one of the US agencies killed him.

I'm not sure this makes any sense. Your theory is more believable if:

1) He had no foreseeable plans for leaving.

2) Singapore was more friendly with the US, rather than being in bed with China.

3) Based on #2, Singapore is a surveillance society. I would imagine they would be pissed if the US did this on their soil, and they would probably have some video footage proof akin to what Dubai had.

4) If he didn't have a hard drive full of a Chinese company's trade secrets, that he intended to bring to the US. Why would the US do this before this data made it back to our shores?

Please correct me if I'm wrong.


I really don't think this follows. Even if we take everything presented in the article at face value, there are a lot of questions unasked (let alone answered) in the article:

1. How did he come to the conclusion/concern he might be violating US national security?

Speculations:

* He could have come to the conclusion on his own, he was apparently a smart guy.

* He could have been asked about his work by embassy officials.

* He could have heard/overheard a conversation that lead him down that path.

* other reasons I don't have any knowledge of.

2. Once he became concerned, what actions did he take?

Speculations: * He kept it to himself and his family.

* Being described as an all-american boy, he could have gone to the US embassy with his concerns. The general perception of US citizens is if you report things like this, even if you're unintentionally involved, you are not targeted.

* He could have started asking uncomfortable questions at work.

3. Why did he copy a bunch of (presumably NDA) "trade secret" research onto his own hard drive?

Speculation:

* He just wanted a copy of his work. (I know I've done this with certain bits of code)

* He wanted to give a gift to his new employer

* He wanted something to bargain with in case the USG investigated him.

* He was just going to hand it to the embassy.

* He didn't do it with any intent, it was just part of a normal backup routine and he didn't even think of it.

4. Why would that hard drive not have been destroyed or taken, particularly if it was accessed after death? (especially since the place was unlocked)

Speculation:

* Deep spy game stuff -- the accessed files were altered to be "wrong"

* There isn't foul play

* There is more dangerous information that they were really worried about, not the stuff he had

* No one realized the information was not on the company network, and some IT guy was just spot-checking against official work to make sure stuff wasn't lost.

5. If there are national security implications, what things are we not being told because of classified?

No speculation on my part here. I have no way of pretending to have a reasonable understanding of this world.

6. What don't we know about Shane Todd? (Not in a blame the victim way, but there is lots of a person's life that can't be described in an article of this size. Is there something about him his family didn't know? Is there something they are embarrassed to talk about?)

Speculation dependent questions:

1. If he went to the USG as a good citizen, what did they do?

* They could have advised him to not abruptly up and leave for personal security reasons.

* They could have asked him to get them copies of the research.

* They could have blown him off, or told him, "thanks, but don't worry about it".

2. Who are all the people who would be interested in targeting him?

* His employers (as speculated/suggested in the article).

* The US government, as you speculate.

* Governments who pay/partner with his employers

* Singapore government, wanting to keep various ties quiet

3. If they are after the research, why kill him rather than just steal his computers?


This kind of shit still happens? Holy crap. I'm probably going to be involved in the defense industry over the next decade - and this was a serious eye opener. Robotics is fun - getting killed for it isn't. I'm staying the hell away from foreign countries and contacts from now on.


Not that we have great statistics on it, but it would seem that the odds of getting killed just because you're in the defense industry are negligible.

You should be more concerned about traveling on the highway, traveling by plane, the food you put in your body, the amount of exercise you get, and how often you risk being hit by lightning.

That said, if you find yourself in Asia being asked by agents of foreign governments to violate US security concerns... smile and nod your head then hastily get your ass to the US Embassy for debriefing and extraction.


Wow... that is beyond weird. From what I've read I always thought Singapore was quite the corrupt-free police state.


Some replies to parent dispute the 'police state' moniker. Decide for yourself:

(Source: http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/singap... . Points below are all direct quotes)

* Singapore's Internal Security Act (ISA) and Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act permit the authorities to arrest and detain suspects for virtually unlimited periods of time without charge or judicial review.

* The Misuse of Drugs Act permits the authorities to confine suspected drug users in "rehabilitation" centers for up to three years without trial.

* Outdoor gatherings of five or more persons still require police permits. The city-state's Speakers Corner -- where people may demonstrate, perform, and hold exhibitions -- remains the only outdoor space where uncensored speech is allowed in the country.

* The Singaporean government and senior government officials have frequently brought charges of "scandalizing the court," criminal and civil defamation, and sedition to silence and even bankrupt its critics.

* Singapore's 208,000 foreign domestic workers are still excluded from the Employment Act and key labor protections, such as limits on daily work hours.

* Human rights defenders in Singapore risk being fined, imprisoned, bankrupted, and banned from traveling outside the country without government approval.


While these aren't good, they don't refute the commonly held belief that Singapore is essentially free from corruption.

Human rights is another issue and on this they do very badly. They are among the worst places in the World to get arrested for basically anything and they have harsh laws that restrict all sorts of personal freedoms. But that's not corruption.


It's only free from corruption on the indices because financial crime is legalized (the victims are overseas in places like Burma, where their clients extract ill-gotten gains to launder in the Singapore markets) and the government, which came to power on a platform of communism and claims to be a democracy, is in fact a well established, dynastically-held totalitarian state with hopelessly enslaved (believe they are free) citizens.


That would explain why the same party has won every single election since independence.


And it explains the large overlap among executives of large companies, military brass, and government ministers. They are all the same people: literally a guy is a CEO, because he is also a general and last year he was Minister for Whatever.

I still laugh about the interview I saw with Lee Hsien Loong in which the obsequious (although perhaps rather clever) interviewer asked him whether he had been upset when Goh Chok Tong had immediately succeeded Lee Kwan Yew (Hsien Loong's father) as PM. LHL squirmed and laughed nervously, and stammered, "Well, ah, of course not. One cannot have unreasonable expectations." Even he was embarrassed for his country then.


Can you give some examples of legal financial crimes? Not saying you're wrong, I've just never heard that. I know they are a tax haven and have lax financial controls, but the "victims" of that are the tax man in foreign governments.


I am talking about, for example, laundering money for the Burmese junta, who routinely censor, enslave, imprison, rape and kill their own citizens.

eg. "In 1991, the Junta laundered $400 million through a Singapore bank as down payment for Chinese weapons." - Jane's Intelligence Review ... or see http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2007/09/singapores-debt-of-h...


Well, the article in no way actually implies corruption.

If the men in power decided that Shane's death needed to be covered up, and the men in uniforms followed orders - then that is exactly how a non-corrupt police state works; you have strict order but that order doesn't neccessarily favor the people.

A corrupt state would have the relevant police officer be bribed individually and/or extracting favors from the relatives; corruption requires weak structure, where the system is centralised in theory but decentralised in practice, as decisions are made or changed by corrupt officials. But if the authority decides to do an evil thing and the system executes it without question - then that's a perfect example of an efficient, noncorrupt police state that achieves it's goals and spits at the costs.


If the men in power decided the death needs to be covered up, that is exactly evidence of corruption - it's just high-level corruption and not low-level.

Mexico is an example of a country with a lot of low-level corruption (you can bribe the police to get out of anything). The United States is an example of a country with very little low-level corruption, but with (arguably) lots of high-level corruption.

Singapore is a country with almost non-existant low level corruption in my experience (i lived there for a time and have visited many times), and their system is specifically designed to eliminate high-level corruption: they pay public servants high salaries and punish any corruption with very long prison sentences.


It's high level corruption if a ranking official enriches himself to harm the state/government. It's [efficient, non-corrupt but still] dictatorship if a ranking official says "ends justify means" and is ready to harm citizens if it's useful for state/government/military goals.


>If the men in power decided the death needs to be covered up, that is exactly evidence of corruption - it's just high-level corruption and not low-level.

Not if the high-level law permits this kind of thing.


The common view among Singaporean laymen is that high-level officers have little reason to be corrupt, as they pay themselves high salaries benchmarked to the top four earners in six professions [1], aimed at keeping top talent in politics and the civil service.

Whether the men in power are making the morally/ethically-correct decisions regarding this case is a separate matter altogether.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_Singapore#Remunerati...


Are you suggesting its legal for corporate intersts to kill people in Singapore (or anywhere)? Think we'll need a citation for that...


Corporate interests? In a lot of cases and places, corporate interests are one with those of the state.

What I suggest is that the legal structure of a state might give it the option to approve and perform those things. You'd be surprised how many western countries have also invaded places or killed people for specific corporate interests that coincide with those of the state.

It's not as if they do it for the benefit of some small company. We're talking corporations with the level of influence and budget that's bigger than a lot of countries.


While Singapore may be largely perceived by the world to be free from corruption, one of the officers from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Board was recently investigated for "financial impropriety" [1]. (Which brings to mind a case of "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?")

At least they did something about it.

[1]: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/vi...


I do not think it possible to have a corrupt-free police state.


Not trying to invoke Godwin's law, but AFAIK both Stalin and Hitler had police states with rather little corruption; certainly far less corruption than nowadays Russia or mid-Africa.


But those aren't police states at all, Russia and Central Africa. They are very poorly organized and great parts of the countries are lawless. They may have authoritarian governments but those governments have limited authority to enact things.

And with Stalin/Hitler, you'd also have to look at the neighboring historical eras. For all you know Germany historically was also very non-corrupt. (not a challenge, if you do know, please speak!)


> They may have authoritarian governments but those governments have limited authority to enact things.

Corruption is an integral part of the system in those countries. It is not that respective governments have limited authority (quite otherwise in actuality) - they allow this to happen. It is how they function. What you perceive as lawlessness is a normal (desired) state of affairs.

If, for instance, you're a honest law enforcement official or a dutiful member of the parliament, you will not fit in and will have to either accept the rules of the system or be expelled (imprisoned or killed if you're stubborn).


> And with Stalin/Hitler, you'd also have to look at the neighboring historical eras. For all you know Germany historically was also very non-corrupt. (not a challenge, if you do know, please speak!)

Doesn't matter, this still refutes the original statement.


I'd say its difficult but not impossible, especially over the long term. Singapore seems to have managed the trick, but it is the exception rather than the rule.


It isn't a police state. And in recent years, it has been shown that it isn't corruption-free either.


Really, then what exactly would you call it? You are essentially subject to all manner of ridiculous punishment for what would be considered minor or non-offenses in most free countries. Most of their elections are uncontested. You can dress it up because their streets are clean and safe, but it's still facism.


I've visited Singapore just for a few days, but based on that experiment, the western media is overdoing this Singapore-bashing. I'd strongly suggest to visit the country, or at least get familiar with its history, its surrounding neighbors, theirs relationships, theirs relative cultural and economical differences. After that you will understand them better, and you will realize that its not that black-and-white as the media would like to suggest.

Heh, this gets downvoted for what? Oh well, feel free to stay in your bubble, and don't ask questions that will contradict your beliefs.


I grew up in Singapore. I was there for almost 17 years. I'm in Sydney now.

Parent is right, a lot of the negative media attention is completely over blown. Things like "outdoor gatherings of five or more persons still require police permits" while I think is still technically true, is never enforced. Obviously, because then you would require a gathering permit for a small family and the police would be running around every day busting school children.

Some of the laws are strict, but you'll see people breaking minor laws everyday with no repercussions. Just like every other city, the police have to use their brains to determine how best to spend their time.

They definitely take some offenses very very seriously e.g drug trafficing and possession. And some things seem a bit crazy like banning chewing gum. But I was there when this law came into effect and the difference it made to the city's cleanliness was noticeable.

There are other good things too. Its quite modern. Smoking is banned almost everywhere. It's really safe. Even for women at night. Public transport is good. It's multicultural and you get all the major religious holidays even if they are not your own.

It's actually a pretty good place to live.


> I've visited Singapore just for a few days, but based on that experiment

I spent a couple of weeks in the US, and never ran afoul of bad cops or drug laws. I conclude very little from this, because even if things are as bad as reddit says, I would not expect to run afoul of those things in such a short time if I'm not breaking any major laws.

What bad things would you expect to see in just a few days, if the western media's Singapore bashing is not overblown?


I'm not sure if the grandparent post really meant it that way. It's not that you don't see anything bad while you are in Singapore, it's that you get a feeling for Singapore's situation. I've only been in Singapore for a short bit and I've met ethnic Chinese who were plenty happy to live in safe Singapore now, and not in the neighboring countries anymore (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_13_Incident)


You start off by telling us that you've been to Singapore just a few days and go on claiming superior insight into the country's cultural and political landscape. Then you wind up with a trite statement that contains a bunch of vague terms, is free of any meaning, and condescending to boot.

You're free to stay in your bubble, too.


After visiting Singapore I've bought Lee Kuan Yew's books and it is really hard to describe his thoughts and point of view in just a few sentences, but at least I have a feel of what and why they did. Since then, I'm following the media coverage of Singapore in the western world, have friends living in Singapore, and based on various observation, I can make my judgment call about what to believe and what not to.

It is not perfect, but if you don't do any of these, and you just rely on the western media, how is it better? If you see the parent of my original post, I don't think it is better in any way.


Come spend a few days in China and you will find that it is a modern country that values human rights with no corruption and lots of social harmony.

Of course, the truth is a bit more nuanced than that.


> You are essentially subject to all manner of ridiculous punishment for what would be considered minor or non-offenses in most free countries

Like vandalism and petty theft. And just look at how successful those "free countries" have been in addressing those categories of crime!

What you call "ridiculous" is simply what you have been conditioned to think, no more. Elsewhere in the world it might be called "effective".


Fascism is very effective.

It's about values and freedom. If you don't care about that, safety is easy.


Corporal punishment of petty crimes == fascism. Is that your thesis?

I believe you to be quite misinformed in your understanding of fascism, freedom, and everything else. As far as I can see, the only "freedom" on offer in the society you hint at is the freedom to not be punished effectively for your crimes.

Please, Americans: if you have to mention the word "freedom" in your argument then you are probably talking shit. Think about it.


I was hoping after editing this reply like 5 times, you were going to come up with something here...

So you only address the punishment issue, but you don't say a thing about the sham elections. And yes, I'd prefer to step in gum once a year than have some 20 year old kid get beaten because they didn't conform to my narrow societal goals.

This is the difference between the west and the east. It is a chasm in philosophy that will never be bridged.


> This is the difference between the west and the east. It is a chasm in philosophy that will never be bridged.

The US kills its own citizens without trial using hellfire missiles in drone strikes. So what's the difference?


If you're looking for me to defend the U.S., you're going to be looking for a very, very, very long time. I'm as anti-drone, anti-police state as you will ever find a US citizen.

BUUUUUT, I will bite on one thing.

How many Americans have been killed by drones? A handful? How many of those were actively fighting for terrorist organizations? All of them.

Now I do think it's only a matter of time before the US turns that power inwards and starts flying drones over the US. The NYPD already has drones and no one is quite sure whether they're able/willing to equip them with "non-lethal" weapons very soon, but it hasn't happened yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Singapore

This guy above me loves the fact that people are executed for marijuana possession, which is almost completely harmless physically, of negligible harm to society, and largely beneficial to health if not abused.

LOVES IT.


> How many Americans have been killed by drones? A handful? How many of those were actively fighting for terrorist organizations? All of them.

How would you know? There were no trials.


> How many Americans have been killed by drones? A handful? How many of those were actively fighting for terrorist organizations? All of them.

(American born) Anwar al-Awlaki's 16-year old son was killed in a separate drone strike, 2 weeks after his father was killed. No suggestion was made that the son was guilty of anything, but that 'he should have had a more responsible father'.


> This guy above me loves the fact that people are executed for marijuana possession

No, I'm pretty sure he never said that, and I'm almost as sure he doesn't.

Your political opponents are not evil.


If the US is fucked up, that makes it okay for others to be fucked up as well?

Surely you don't mean that, so I don't understand what you are trying to say here.


I was responding to his statement "This is the difference between the west and the east. It is a chasm in philosophy that will never be bridged."


Sham elections? What are you talking about? Corporal punishment and sham elections go hand in hand?

And have it your way. I'd prefer to ride in clean, non-vandalised trains, and the 20 year old would-be vandal was beaten after their first indiscretion, and never did it again.

Seems to be it's less an unbridgeable chasm between east and west, and more a chasm between lazy Berkeley ideology and pragmatism.


Since you're resorting to catty little twat comments, this discussion is over. Just so you know, I come from dirt farmer immigrants in the Midwest, but keep assuming stuff. It's cute when people like you try to claim some sort of superiority due to your VASTLY superior logic.

TL;DR: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc0mxOXbWIU


[deleted]


Such amazing, relevant points being driven home in this.

When is your book coming out? Can I write the foreword?

Also, nice homophobia, "foreigner." I lived for a year and a half in Taiwan, so I've maaaaaaaybe had more experience than you think.

P.S. Elitism is an ism too. You may learn that if you grow up at some point.


Petty crimes such as vandalism and littering are offenses against property. corporal punishment is an attack upon the person. Most people don't consider injury to property to justify injury to the person.


Large parts of the East consider injury to property, especially "public" property the same as an injury to society. Like apparently the fellow I'm debating with up here.


Are you familiar with Sinclair? I've long been a fan of his definition of the term.

As he puts it, fascism is one part capitalism and one part brutality (if I recall correctly I believe he specifies murder, but I think the relation and general sentiment is clear.)


Okay okay, we get it, you're an autocrat. You love power and the powerful. You wrap your lips around the cock of the state. Nice work.


I don't know much about Singapore, but I think it's worth pointing out that while sometimes Facism can be effective, more commonly Facism claims to be very effective, and punishes those who publicly say otherwise.


Like every political system. I suppose that the way I see it is that a fascist systems punishes in a way that is worse than the character assassination and innuendo that western democracy offers.


> And just look at how successful those "free countries" have been in addressing those categories of crime!

The crime rate in Western countries, including the US, has been falling steadily since the 90s. Given the differences in cultures and legal frameworks ... nobody is really certain why.


One theory that's been gaining some attention is less lead = less crime.

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-li...


That's one I've seen. But there are quite a few -- long period of economic growth, the rise of video games, changing diets, changing weather, changing incarceration rates, changing police policy ...


I'd describe Singapore strict laws just as effective and strict but in exchange you get a very safe and clean country, no drugs, no garbage, no theft. That's ok with me if (and only if) those laws are not exploited by the government. i don't think this is really the case in Singapore, at least not more then in the U.S. or european countries.

Compared to the surrounding countries Singapore is like _the_ safe place and not the other way around.


I don't think their laws are necessarily brutal, but their enforcement of those laws is. They view people who break the taboo of law as people who should be handled with the full force of the state.

And personally I like drugs.


Ah well, just because you like the "freedom" of doing illegal things and the reassurance that if you're caught there will be virtually no consequences, doesn't make it right.

There are people out there that say "And personally i like to beat my wife and kids" and there are societies where this is accepted behaviour.

After being in Malaysia and Indonesia i felt very safe in Singapore and had not the impression of a state the oppresses its people.

In short words: Every country has its rules to live by. Singapore may have strict laws but gains a lot in terms of overall safety.


> There are people out there that say "And personally i like to beat my wife and kids" and there are societies where this is accepted behaviour.

Don't equate smoking marijuana to beating another human being. I've never even tried it, for the record, but I don't see anything wrong with getting high if you want to, as long as you don't cause harm to others.


I certainly don't equate marijuana to beating people (where did that word marijuana came from? It was about drugs. What about Krok? [1] Besides, you could count the victims of the drug scene, the mafia, gangs and everything that is behind drugs, bribe, weapons or prostitution. Buying drugs sponsors crime).

Anyway, back to topic. The point is that Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world [2], that doesn't come ouf of nowhere and is bought with very strict laws. Actually i was trying to make a point to not equate your own understanding of legality with another. We are all bound by certain laws and what we take for granted may sound very strange to others. For example, i find it very, very strange that, in the U.S., people are allowed to carry guns. Can't get it in my head. But well...

[1] http://io9.com/5859291/krokodil-russias-designer-drug-that-w... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Singapore


Besides, you could count the victims of the drug scene, the mafia, gangs and everything that is behind drugs, bribe, weapons or prostitution. Buying drugs sponsors crime

That seems to be a side-effect of prohibition though, not the drugs themselves. It was the same when alcohol was illegal in the US. If the drugs weren't illegal, would this still be the case?


You only need draconian laws like that to enforce the things you mentioned if the local population is naturally so uncivilized that they need to be intimated and/or treated like cattle in order to behave. I'm not saying that's what the Singaporeans are like, but it sure seems like their government thinks that's the case.

Seriously, if you need some crazy draconian law to make sure people aren't littering everywhere, then something is very wrong with your people's culture and level of civilization.

In Japan there aren't any laws like that, yet it's safe to say that it is the most civilized country on the planet. It's extremely safe, criminal violence is virtually unheard of, levels of cleanliness are superb and the people are generally very polite and pleasant in everyday situations.

It's a living proof that you don't need to intimidate people if their morals and sense of responsibility are in check and they know not to do "bad things" because they're wrong and harmful to the society, and not because they will get caned otherwise.


I think it funny that you mention Japan, because only last week i was very surprised how hard you're fined for drinking and driving in Japan, even the passengers of a car where the driver drank alhohol. :)

Do not drive after drinking alcohol. Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited and will result in a fine, imprisonment or penalty. When a driver is arrested for DUI, the driver and the person offering the car will be fined a maximum of 1,000,000 Yen, and all other passengers in the vehicle knowingly allowed the driver to drive will be fined a maximum of 500,000 Yen.

And what do you mean with "In Japan there aren't any laws like that"? Are you kidding me? Japan has very strong laws against drugs! So in the end you support my statement.. strong laws = lower crime rate (how surprising). What would it have to do with people. People are not a unique mass, there are drug dealers, psychopaths and what not in every society.

http://www.tofugu.com/2011/12/02/drug-laws-in-japan-youd-bet...

http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=664

http://expatsguide.jp/ch6


>Seriously, if you need some crazy draconian law to make sure people aren't littering everywhere, then something is very wrong with your people's culture and level of civilization.

And how you change people culture and "level of civilization", by magic?

>In Japan there aren't any laws like that, yet it's safe to say that it is the most civilized country on the planet

Beter to compare to Malaysia (which is way closer to Singapore). Just cross the border and you see the difference.


Oh, but Singapore is a police state (a state where the government exercises rigid and oppressive laws).

It is also a dictatorship. It may not be the worst of its kind in that it actually has (the thin conception of the) rule of law, but it's not a free country and it lacks decent human rights.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_law_doctrine_in_Singapo...


You are painting a very dark picture of a country which in practice works better and has less problems than the US.


I think everyone agrees that dictatorship is superior to democracy IF the dictator is (and remains in the future) competent and also a decent human being. Maybe that's the state in Singapore right now?


I don't agree. I'd rather have the - sometimes - incompetent, corrupt and selfish democratically elected politicians of the US or Europe, than the 'benevolent dictator' (even if he existed). I really like the idea of democracy that much.

It's not that I don't see your point. Often democracies are inefficient. I just still prefer democracy.


You're right. I'm listening to the History of Rome, and even they had a dictator appointed during war to 'cut the crap and get on with things' in times of emergency. Time and again, it has been proven that a single benevolent dictator is much better for the country than a democratic system.

The only problem is that it's hard to find someone who does not fall into the 'absolute power corrupts absolutely' category, which is why we as a society are rather uncomfortable with the idea of a dictator.


http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100537.htm

You get caned if you overstay your 90 days.


And? How does that have any bearing on the story at hand whatsoever?

As an entrepreneur who has seriously considered moving to singapore in the past I am much more interested in what can happen when you do obey their (quite reasonable) laws.


I think we all know if you're in asia stay as legal as possible. I'm just saying don't make an exception for Singapore.


Fair enough. Good advice.

I'm trying not to come across as some pro-authoritarianism masochist in this thread but am I really alone in thinking that there's some merit in deciding a set of laws, then enforcing them?

Overstay your visa? Is that really a minor crime? Does that happen by accident? When was the last time you "accidentally" stayed more than 90 days in a foreign country?

In my country, Australia, you'd be "punished" by being flown home at our expense. Wow. What a deterrent. That'll stop them .. er, using the same passport the next time they try.

There are a lot of things to love about western society but the blind adherence to this 1970s "never harm the child" ideology is fucking crap. Corporal punishment works. It's as simple as that. We have dispensed with it in western culture - without an effective alternative - to our loss.


Are you familiar with what caning, as performed as intended in Singapore, actually entails? It is not merely the infliction of pain, not some glorified form of spanking, but rather the infliction of bodily injury so severe that it requires immediate medical attention. It is barbaric, there is no nicer way to put it. Any reasonable human would consider it torture.

Suggesting that it could ever be a suitable punishment for violating the terms of a visa is ludicrous.

If that is the sort of thing that you want to buy into, then I guess all I can say is that the rest of western society is better off without your perspective.


You exaggerate. It's not a slap on the wrist, no, but calling it torture is a very long stretch indeed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caning_in_Singapore#Medical_tre...


It is torture. It would be in clear violation of United Nations Convention Against Torture, but Singapore has not signed that.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=3c9_1304013159

Tell you what, if you think that isn't torture, then you go get caned. If you can tell me it isn't torture afterwards, provided you are not in shock, then I'll take it all back. But if not, then I get to watch you attempt to cram your apologetics up your ruined ass.


> Tell you what, if you think that isn't torture, then you go get caned

Yeah man. Why don't you say "Tell you what, if you think prison isn't inhumane, you go spend 25 years in prison"

Way to demand an unreasonable precondition to progress in an argument. Is there a name for this fallacy?

Anyway, that video is hard to watch, and I would be sympathetic to an appeal to reduce cane size and weight.


> Way to demand an unreasonable precondition to progress in an argument. Is there a name for this fallacy?

I don't know if it has an official name. I call it the "Jury Fallacy." The Jury Fallacy says that, to have the right to express an opinion or form a judgment about some behavior, you must have personally experienced, or taken part in, that behavior. Which would mean that, to serve on a jury in a murder trial, you must be a murderer. But it's neither true nor sensible -- to qualify for a jury, to be able to draw a conclusion, all you need is to be competent to evaluate evidence.

So ... the "Jury Fallacy."


Thanks for the reply. That's a good name, although I'd extend it to the "Jury of Murderers Fallacy".

I think your example is subtly different though, and is similar to what I think of as the "You Don't Know What It's Like Fallacy". So named because of its typical use when criticising or commenting on X: "How dare you. You don't know what it's like to be X". X being any group you care to name from Atheists to Zoophiles. Or, in your example, murderers.

This case is slightly different, since the fallacy is to claim that you cannot criticise A, where A is an act, process or tradition, unless you have a personal connection or experience with A. If I had used this fallacy against my adversary, I could perhaps have claimed that he has no right to criticise the Singaporean justice system since he is not Singaporean, or that he has no standing to criticise because he has not been a victim of violent crime.

Personal Experience Fallacy? Personal Connection Fallacy? Outsider Fallacy? Insider Fallacy? I'll think about this.


What the hell is your definition of torture, if that doesn't fit it?


One of my coworkers had an off by one error when booking a return flight and overstayed his visa by a day (not in Singapore). So yes, it happens by accident. The idea that he should be caned as a result is ludicrous.


You only get caned if you overstay by more than 90 days in Singapore.


Oh well then that totally makes it okay.


Just correcting the misinformation that you can get caned by overstaying for a single day...


FWIW, I overstayed my Chinese visa by one day and had to pay a ~90$ fine. I was on my way 5 minutes later.


Well, you don't have free press (the ST is a joke) and you're not allowed to criticize politicians by name. I don't know if it's a police state, but it definitely isn't a free country either.


There are numerous internet publications where politicians are criticised by name, though many publications self-censor because politicians have often initiated (and won/settled) defamation lawsuits [1]. There have been numerous allegations on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary when it comes to said lawsuits, however [2].

It is true that no printed newspapers may be published in Singapore without a permit [3].

[1] http://therealsingapore.com/content/history-defamation-suits...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_independence_in_Singap...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_of_Singapore#Newspapers


I think they are just corrupt on a much higher level. Sure, you might not have everyday bribery, but if a big company chooses to fuck you they will not have a problem with closing both eyes for a minute.


This isn't corruption if they're following orders from above.


This is terrifying. Either it's a tragic suicide (which hurts even more given that there have been so many high-profile tech suicides recently), or it's an escalation of low-grade economic/technology/cybersecurity war between the US and China.


Not recently on the suicides, mate, always. The only recent thing is the rockstar status of these folks where it hits the news.


Maybe it's because I'm on a mobile device or I'm from France but I'm told I can't read the article unless I register on ft.com.

Does anybody have a link that might work better ?


The pastebin given is probably good enough, but you can also run it through google cache (add cache: in front of the url and search for it on google). If it does not work still, add strip=1 to the end of the cache url so it does not load anything from the site. Here's a link to it with that + run through viewtext.org:

http://viewtext.org/article?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwebcache.google...


http://pastebin.com/s2th4i04

I know this is poor, please check this out on the real site when you can.


Pretty obvious that the Chinese military industrial complex had Shane Todd snuffed. The Singapore police and government are caught in the middle and had no other choice but to whitewash the whole thing. The obvious conclusion is that if you're a brilliant young American or European working on something sensitive in Singapore then this could happen to you too. Be very careful...


I wonder if the Todd family have transcripts of the Skype calls where Shane aired his concerns regarding the demands being made of him, and what he was planning to do about it went back State-side -- I venture that the Chinese government does.


With the Singapore media reporting nearly every event that happen on the island, from the mundane to the salacious, how is it that the unusual death of a young American expat gets no ink at all? Obviously a higher up must have ordered SPH to suppress the story. Why? As history has shown time and again, once there is a cover up, the bells should be ringing... Something's rotten in Singapore.


Suicides generally don't get reported unless they are exceptional in some way (e.g. celebrities, murder-suicide combo)


“The United States has offered FBI assistance to the Government of Singapore on the Shane Todd case" (but Singaporean authorities have not accepted the assistance) - what is the jurisdiction for the FBI to pursue this investigation without Singaporean consent? Doing that sounds like an appropriate measure at this stage (a little surprised that it hasn't already happened).


They have obviously no jurisdiction but they might have access experience, money, human resources, technology and information Singaporian authorities might not necessarily have access to. This kind of cooperation is fairly common in cases involving multiple countries, but obviously they can only conduct an investigation in Singapore with the consent of the Singaporean government. They are free to conduct an investigation within the United States, however.


I'm more curious as to why the Singaporean government has yet to accept the assistance. While Singapore may wish to protect its sovereignty when it comes to law enforcement (i.e. police), I feel more unsafe knowing that the police investigation was lacking (and possibly closed, considering they've considered it a suicide) compared to what the FT has reported. Not a good thing for a country widely perceived as having little crime.


But what exactly would stop the FBI from sending agents to Singapore and conducting their own investigation, with or without consent? Need it be covert, it could certainly be covert.

I'm currently operating under the assumption (which seemed likely to me) that the Singaporean government / police had a motive for not wanting to involve the FBI. Hence the more reason for the FBI to be there.


Meyi


Families of the suicidal always blame everyone else.


Did you actually read the entire story? While I'm wary of anything I read on the internet, if FT is being completely truthful you can't help but think that things are a bit odd. From the beginning I felt like it was probably just grieving parents gripping at straws, but the strangeness just kept piling up...


Things are odd, yes, but I imagine that suicide cases are quite frequently odd...


Not in the eyes of outsiders. In this case even outsiders, such as myself, think the story doesn't add up, provided the facts from the story are accurate. If the police says holes were drilled in the bathroom walls to bolt in a pulley and subsequently no holes are seen, then something is very wrong.


I guess that means "no, I didn't read it."


These sorts of cases - in which families accuse the police of complicity or incompetence during suicide investigations - are not exactly unknown.

I recall reading accounts of a similarly "suspicious suicide" several years ago. It also included sympathetic interviews with a grieving family in denial. Read for yourself how that turned out:

Initial suspicion report, 2007: http://www.sfweekly.com/2007-07-18/news/who-killed-hugues-de...

Example of another suspicion report: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18559_162-6599236.html?pageNum=1

Whelp, "independent" (kinda) investigation says probably a suicide (2009): http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_fran...

Some continue to push the murder theory (there are many more recent news articles too): http://huguesdelaplaza.blogspot.com/

The fact is, no one really knows. Once you hear the other side of the story, things get more convoluted. It seems that the police have a decent reason to classify it as a suicide, but it also seems that the case may have been a murder. So it's weird.

These sorts of cases seem to pop up from time to time. Most likely some are murders, and most likely some are suicides. I'm not confident in my own ability to determine which is which by simply reading a highly biased account in a newspaper.


No, they do not.

Edit: you insensitive jerk.




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