Francis T. Seow
former Solicitor General of Singapore
Escape from Paradise

... your book deserves to be widely read ...

Your autobiography, as I had intimated, is well penned, and what is more it has all the ingredients of a successful soap opera, including the storied idiosyncracies of the Aws, the intrigues and the grossièreté of the parvenu Chungs. Its other fascination lies in the fact that it occurred in the main in an allegedly squeaky-clean state with hypocritical values. It out-Dallas Dallas, save that it is grounded in historical truth and experience.

The States could be a major market but it is not easy to crack it because of its insularity. As I see it, your book is Asean-centric and Singapore, in particular. Your readers, in my view, lie in that direction, and which by virtue of its contents will have the greater impact. Even so, your book deserves to be widely read, especially by Singaporeans, many of whom, I daresay, are still ignorant of or are mesmerized by the glitter of Lee's paradise.

No one, however, has written so well of the other side of paradise. Your observations on the Singaporean ethos, the educational system, among others, are insightful emanating as they do from the perspective of an ordinary Singaporean and a mother. Your hands-on experience with the legal and judicial system is revealing and represents the tip of a nasty iceberg. The Hongkong-based Perc and the Geneva-based World Economic Forum would do well to take note and investigate more closely the judicial system instead of only surveying top foreign CEOs for their yearly assessments.

Francis T. Seow's Ordeal

In May 1988, Francis Seow was arrested in accordance with Singapore's Internal Security Act (ISA), which permits Singapore to detain anyone indefinitely -- without trial, judicial review, or explanation. Under the ISA, Chia Thye Poh, a member of Singapore's Parliament, was detained for twenty-three years, from 1966 to 1989.

Singapore arrested Francis Seow, claiming he had been a "willing partner to acts of interference in Singapore's internal affairs by representatives of a foreign power.” That “foreign power” was the United States. Soon after Mr. Seow's arrest, Hank Hendrickson, First Secretary of the US Embassy in Singapore was expelled from the island for “meddling in Singapore politics.”

Francis Seow was imprisoned in a small windowless cell, for 72 days with only a raised concrete platform topped with a wooden plank for a bed. During his interrogations, he was forced to remain standing, on one occasion, for sixteen hours!

Francis Seow is an eloquent speaker with a charisma rarely found (or encouraged) in Singapore. In addition, he had decided to run for political office and was a fitting rival to Singapore's ruler, Lee Kuan Yew. This was Francis Seow's "crime."

Francis Seow was lucky, he was released from detention after seventy-two days.

Mr. Seow left Singapore to become a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School. He now lives in Boston.

We are honored to have Mr. Seow review our book so generously.

Other Critics of Singapore's Ruling Party


The Singapore Democratic Party chief was jailed twice in 1999 after refusing to pay $2,200 in fines for holding public rallies without a permit. In 1993, he paid $300,000 in libel damages and costs in relation to comments he made following his dismissal from a university teaching post.


Singapore's longest-suffering opposition figure was declared bankrupt and lost his parliamentary seat in 2001 after defaulting on a defamation payout. In a 30-year career, Jeyaretnam has paid more than $900,000 in damages and costs


The lawyer and Workers' Party politician fled Singapore, citing death threats after losing a bid for Parliament in 1997. He was sued for $2.9 million after he accused Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and ten other ruling party members of lying. Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and other ruling party members sued Tang for damages in the Singapore High Court and were awarded a record S$8.08 million (US$5.6 million) in damages. Tang has fled from Singapore.

lThe Tiger Balm Kings

Additional writings of Francis T. Seow, and a wealth of information on Singapore and the surrounding region, can be found at

It's well worth a visit.

Visit this alternative Singapore news website of which
Jacob George is a member.

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Francis T. Seow