NO DIFFERENCE in intent exists between Singaporean and American officials towards the tragic death of American researcher Shane Todd - both sides wish to get to the bottom of the multifaceted case in an open manner.[Objectionable, and arrogant on the part of the US.]
Implicit in the notion of openness is the need to suspend all judgment till investigations have been completed and findings duly examined at a public hearing. However, in introducing legislation directed against Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics (IME), US senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester have prejudged the issues and presumed the Singapore authorities will be less than rigorous in drawing conclusions.
This is clear from their precondition that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has full access to all evidence and records linked to the tragedy. This manner of exerting pressure on another nation is objectionable. Cooperation on the Todd case, which has already begun between law enforcement officials, is indeed a better way to proceed.
In saying it was "deeply disappointed" with the actions of the American politicians, the Singapore Government highlighted the lengths to which it has gone to be open and transparent about the matter. The Singapore police are prepared to extend all pertinent evidence to the FBI and the IME is open to a process audit done by a US team in order to allay doubts. This was reiterated by Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam recently in Washington, when he and Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed warm bilateral ties.
It is only natural for Dr Todd's family to raise questions about his death, given the web of circumstances involved. Was it suicide or murder? There is conflicting evidence about this, as there is of a conspiracy theory relating to improper transfer of technology. Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, suspected by the US of espionage, is allegedly mentioned in Dr Todd's files but Huawei has denied doing any project with IME.
These questions deserve to be addressed fully when the coroner's inquiry is held in due course. It will certainly not be easy for the Todd family and their supporters to be taken through the painful details leading to his death but it is hoped they will be able to participate in the public proceedings here and be extended support. All information uncovered has to be painstakingly examined, including the interests of parties mentioned and the manner in which investigations were conducted. The perspective of any foreign experts, including those from the FBI, should be given due weight too.
Whatever the conclusions reached, it is the openness and thoroughness of such processes that make the most convincing argument for the Singapore system's integrity.