The Todd Investigation
Last month, Financial Times broke the captivating story on Shane Todd’s unusual death in Singapore. “Unusual” from the account of Todd’s parents as they had to grapple with the tragic news of the death of their son in a foreign country so alien and far away from their Montana.
The story FT told, with an intertwined implied hook of murder-suicide, Chinese espionage, US national security, was a riveting one. The Todds added in accounts of Singapore police’s standoff over evidence that the Todds refused to handover unconditionally. What was exaggerated, imagined or real, is anybody’s guess. The Todds were lucky as their story captured the imagination of an American audience and senators, with China spying fresh in the news and Huawei’s hunger for the global market and its fierce competition with Cisco in the background.
The Todds can never truly let go yet as which parent can readily accept the death of their child. Their biased and sensational hints of Singapore police incompetence and Huawei’s hand in murder made to look like suicide is understandable as most Americans have an ethnocentric view that their FBI and government are the best in the world, and that China is the new threat to the USA’s global hegemony. Was the Singapore police incompetent and uncooperative as what the Todds and FT tried to portray? Maybe, but I don’t think so as past cases showed that they know their business and do cooperate with foreign police. Especially in a death, they would make sure there is no foul play.
In the end, the unfortunate tragedy of the Todds is pivoting from a personal to a political affair. The Todds are sowing the accusations that Singapore is a backwater country with an incompetent police at best and there is a conspiracy with the Chinese government that threatens US national security at worst. The more sensational the story, the more the media can sell it to interest people.
Singapore has pledged full cooperation already and the US government has remained tactful as they know it is a domestic police investigation. Whether or not this escalates into a bilateral hiccup all depends on how much the Todds, US right wing politicians and the foreign media push it. With a small far away country like Singapore, they will shove it hard as they think they can get away with it.