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.


7 responses

  1. Neil Clarke

    “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”

    Don’t you think it depends at least a little bit on whether Shane Todd was actually murdered? And if so by whom, and why?

    At the very least, it seems beyond dispute that the police left important evidence unsecured at the scene of the crime.

    March 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm

  2. Watcher

    Can’t say if it is a murder or suicide. On one side, there is talk about him being involved in work that could jeopardise American national security – the murder story. On the other side, his medical and mental health was a big question mark – the suicide story.

    March 16, 2013 at 12:50 am

  3. Pingback: Daily SG: 18 Mar 2013 | The Singapore Daily

  4. Xmen

    You should just let this investigation runs its course. Why does it have anything to do with “US right wing politicians”?

    March 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm

  5. Ai yeoh

    The rest are not important now, only want to know if the SPF is aware of the hard disk left behind in the house that is the key critical evidence in this case. If not, shouldn’t we be asking why that is the case first before we address all the other issues.

    March 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm

  6. I think your assumption RE the competence of the Singapore police is dubious at best. Linking to a few recent articles where they, gasp, caught some criminals is hardly convincing.

    The most obvious problem is the fact that they cannot catch notorious match fixer Dan Tan from under their very noses despite an interpol arrest warrant being in place for years. Oddly for a country that attempts to cultivate a squeaky clean image on corruption, Singapore also struggles to extradite money laundering Indonesian politicians, presumably allowing their ill-gotten funds slosh around the local financial services industry.

    More broadly if you ask the more observant members of local society, they can give you a long list of incidents where, in politicised circumstances, the police do not appear to have acted entirely objectively. If the Todd’s suspicions are even half true, his death is clearly a politicised situation.

    The detention for questioning of a local freelance journalist after she broke the story that staff of a local bus company had been abused themselves while under arrest for taking part in an “illegal strike” is a recent case. Detaining local civil society activists for having the gall to sell a policially challenging book (which the government couldn’t bring themselves to actually ban) is another. Punishing a blogger for putting an “exit poll” on facebook after the last general election, but ignoring the fact that Singapore’s state controlled media did almost exactly the same thing in the more recent by-election is an example of dual-standards that are rife in the application of the law in political circumstances.

    I would suggest thinking very carefully before assuming any institution of power is above political interference in Singapore.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:01 pm

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    August 11, 2013 at 2:15 am

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