Opportunity And Death In Singapore

Article in the SF Chronicle today talking about Singapore’s attempts to foster entrepreneurism. Fails to mention what happened recently to one American who ventured there to work in tech.

Shane had died a week before he was to return to the US. The police said he had drilled holes into his bathroom wall, bolted in a pulley, then slipped a black strap through the pulley and wrapped it around the toilet several times. He then tethered the strap to his neck and jumped from a chair. Shane, 6ft 1in and nearly 200lb, hanged himself from the bathroom door, the autopsy report said.

So the Todds, along with two of Shane’s younger brothers, John and Dylan, were unnerved by what they didn’t see as they crossed the threshold. The front door was unlocked and there was no sign of an investigation – no crime-scene tape, no smudges from fingerprint searches. “The first thing I did was make a beeline for the bathroom,” Mrs Todd recalled. She wanted to see exactly how Shane had died – and she saw nothing that fitted the police description. The marble bathroom walls had no holes in them. Nor were there any bolts or screws. The toilet was not where the police had said.

If you start a company in Singapore, good luck. Just don’t, under any circumstances, rock the boat.

14 thoughts on “Opportunity And Death In Singapore

  1. Waqas Ali says:

    That’s sad, but one incident doesn’t represent the whole eco-system.

    I live in Pakistan, and worked for a SG based tech blog for a while. They’re surely up to something, and the country has already started to influence other countries like mine.

  2. TSC says:

    I agree with the other commenter. Your warning and what happened in the story are worlds apart. Here is a guy working for a major company that is probably helping the Chinese acquire forbidden military technology. It’s a potentially huge national security issue. Hardly a start up mailing disposable razors or attempting to hail a cab with an app.

  3. bob says:

    I take it this means you aren’t planning on investing big in singapore?

  4. CC says:

    The problem is that Singapore is a very successful fascist banana republic the British and US put together a long time ago as an unofficial success to the ‘domino theory’. I lived there many years ago and you basically don’t rock the boat (play nice with the government bureaucrats if you plan to sell them something, don’t get noticed by the ruling family(ies)) and everything will be OK. Its civil law is pretty well ran, but criminal is still a complete joke (often coercing confessions after many days, etc.and judges that make the law as they go). From my knowledge Singapore itself tries very hard to live within the export bans of the US for its own defense, so this is obviously more about money (and covering up any possible export issues with their ‘friend’ the US vs. their ‘friend’ China) than anything.

  5. Ken Aston says:

    Not talking about the fact that the murder claim and connection to his project is a hypothesis of the family, one could write a similar blog post about any country.

    Side fact when considering the danger of living in Singapore: Murder rate in the US 4.8, in Sinagapore 0.3.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

    • osbjmg says:

      This cuts to the heart of the data you are relying on. What is a wikipedia murder rate worth when you have reports of the government possibly covering up murders as suicide?

  6. Edward Au says:

    But this sounds like you never visited Singapore. I am born in Hong Kong and have been living here doing business for over 20 years and started a few companies. Here is just like any other big cities and well run. The story you mention is scary (I never heard about it so I cannot comment) but things is if you want to find a city that is well run with an efficient government, Singapore is it.

    My point is Singapore is just like any other big city, not like how the title sound.

  7. Jason Smith says:

    maybe so, but the US doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being the safest place to live full stop.

  8. International Travel-guy says:

    I have both lived and worked in Singapore – it is a unique place… discussion (at any real level) on politics is not just unheard of, it’s almost taboo (interesting anecdote: only cabbies are willing to speak negatively of the government, and even they are careful how they say things).

    This looks very much like nationalist Chinese inflluence – in Singapore this is a big issue (from gambling to organized crime to real estate).

    The sad part is that that almost any expat in Singapore will tell you that the government has their eyes on everything (the reason it’s so safe is because society is so watched) – every car that enters a parking structure is logged, and many are scanned; most expat apartment buildings have security systems that are accessible by the gov’t; and financial transactions are logged regularly by the gov’t. Most expats know this stuff, and those that don’t want the gov’t watching too closely take precautions – I know several that hold open tickets on US or euro-based airlines so they can leave in very short notice. I’m not sure advertising a departure date several weeks/months in advance was a great idea, esp. if you’re concerned about the sensitivity of your work (and possible security implications).

    Singapore is not a police state (although sometimes it may seem that way), but it also is a place with serious nationalist Chinese influence in the private sector, and that should never be overlooked.

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