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

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“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 …

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