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ENIGMAS: Tay Seow Huah, My Father, Singapore’s Pioneer Spy Chief

By: Simon Tay
Publisher: Landmark Books
  • Description
  • About the Author
  • Unfortunately, some important people... such as Tay Seow Huah, had died before interviewers could get to them.”

    Lee Kuan Yew on the need to record oral history from key figures in Singapore

    1965. Singapore is newly independent. Tay Seow Huah is appointed Director of the secretive Special Branch. Over the tumultuous first decade, he is key in ensuring the country’s stability, shaping strategies and initiating new institutions for intelligence and security. He reports directly to PM Lee. In 1974, when Singapore is attacked in the Laju Incident – the oil refinery on Pulau Bukom is bombed and civilians held hostage at gun point – and Tay is tasked to coordinate all responses, negotiate with the attackers and foreign governments.

    Beyond the headlines, this memoir, written by his son, reveals the personal roots of Singapore’s pioneer spy chief set in the traumas of WWII, the Emergency in Malaya, and Singapore’s pre-independence political tumult.

    Encounters with the Israelis (codenamed “Mexicans”) who assisted in Singapore’s military build up are revealed, as are flash points across the region, when the Republic’s fledgling intelligence agency must rapidly respond to the Vietnam War and tensions with neighbours and develop its place in the world.

    This book also tracks Tay’s own challenges: early retirement and his sudden death at 47. It then offers a daring, speculative and emotional conversation that juxtaposes those early years of Singapore with so much that has happened since.

  • Simon Tay is an award-winning writer, with works of fiction as well as about politics and international issues. His awards for fiction and poetry include the Singapore Literature Prize and the 2019 Southeast Asia Write Award.

    He is a former Nominated Member of Parliament, chair of a major statutory board, and continues to serve as an ambassador for Singapore.

    He is concurrently chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law and senior consultant with a major Singaporean law firm.

    He is the only son of Tay Seow Huah and the late Madam Cheong Keong Hin.

ISBN: 9789811888069
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 400
Year Published: 2024
Size: 135mm x 217mm
Language: English