Tee Tua Ba


Tee Tua Ba (b. 17 June 1942, Singapore–)1 is a diplomat and a former commissioner of police. Over the course of his 30-year career in the civil service, Tee filled leadership roles in the Marine Police (now known as the Police Coast Guard), Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), Singapore Prison Service and Criminal Investigation Department (CID), among others. After his tenure as commissioner of police from 1992 to 1997, Tee retired from the police force2 and was appointed Singapore’s high commissioner or ambassador to a number of states including Brunei, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus. He has been the non-resident ambassador to Switzerland since February 2013 and chairman of the Singapore Red Cross Society since 2008.

Education
Tee studied at Serangoon English School (194959), Victoria School (195960) and then Raffles Institution(196061),3 obtaining a full certificate in the Cambridge Higher School Examination in 1961.4 In 1966, he graduated from the University of Singapore (now National University of Singapore) with a Bachelor of Law (Honours) degree and was called to the Singapore Bar.5

Civil service career
Instead of embarking on a career in the legal profession, Tee chose to pursue his ambition and joined the police force in 1967 as an assistant superintendent of police.6 In 1968, Tee took part in a police operation to apprehend kidnapper Loh Ngut Fong7 and his gang from a house off Yio Chu Kang Road. The operation, which involved more than 300 police personnel, ended in a shootout and Loh’s death.8 In 1971, Tee was promoted to deputy superintendent of police.9


Tee was the officer-in-charge of the Marine Police during the Laju hijacking off Pulau Bukom on 31 January 1974.10 After a failed attempt to blow up oil tanks at a refinery on Pulau Bukom, four men armed with guns and explosives hijacked a ferryboat and took five members of the crew hostage. Two men were from the Japanese Red Army, while the other two were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Tee, unarmed, initiated contact with the hijackers and was involved in negotiations with them over the following week. He was said to be instrumental in persuading the hijackers to surrender their arms and release the hostages in exchange for the Singapore government’s facilitation of their safe passage to Kuwait.11 Due to his calm and competent management of the crisis, Tee’s abilities were brought to the attention of the police force’s top management.12

Subsequently, Tee held several key appointments and ascended swiftly through the ranks, including:

1976–1978: Commander (Areas) of Police Divisions13
19781981: Director, Central Narcotics Bureau14
1981: Deputy Commissioner (Operations); Director, CID15
19821987: Deputy Commissioner of Police16
19871992: Director of Prisons17
1992–1997: Commissioner of PoliceTee retired as Commissioner of Police in 1997.18

In his various leadership roles, Tee initiated a number of institutional and cultural reforms. As head of the Prisons Department, he emphasised the need to counsel and rehabilitate prisoners rather than to use punishment.19 He also sought to inject flexibility into the rigid hierarchy that then characterised the Prison Service and introduced the Prison Scheme of Service to attract and retain talented officers.20 As commissioner of police, Tee introduced a set of core values for policemen to allow them greater initiative and discretion.21 This was done to empower staff and abolish the “play it safe” and top-down culture in favour of a more proactive mentality. Tee was also credited for reducing Singapore’s crime rate during his tenure as commissioner.22

Tee’s experience in safeguarding Singapore’s internal security led him to be part of the three-member panel tasked to investigate the escape of Mas Selamat Kastari, leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group, from the Whitley Road Detention Centre in 2008.23 Tee’s expertise was again put to good use when he was appointed as a member of the committee of inquiry that investigated the Little India riot that occurred on 8 December 2013.24

Diplomatic career
After his retirement as police chief, Tee served in various diplomatic positions.


19972001: High commissioner to Negara Brunei Darussalam25
2002–2006: Ambassador to the Arab Republic of Egypt, with concurrent accreditation to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Cyprus
20082012: Non-resident Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates26

2013–present: Non-resident ambassador to Switzerland27

Other appointments
Tee was appointed as chairman of the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) Society in 2008 at the recommendation of then Singapore President S. R. Nathan. As chairman of the SRC, Tee looked to promote a spirit of volunteerism and a passion for humanitarian work amongst Singaporeans.28


Tee has also held directorships in various companies and institutions. He was the director of Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (or SCORE; 1972–92), member of the Singapore Sports Council (1993–96) and director of the Commercial and Industrial Security Corporation of Singapore (now known as Certis CISCO; 1992–97).29

Awards
Tee has received a number of awards during his three decades with the civil service. These include:


1974: Public Administration Medal (Silver)30
1981: Public Administration Medal (Gold)31
1986: Gold Medal of Honour, Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association32
1994: Darjah Panglima Setia Makhota (Commander of the Order of the Crown of Malaysia)33
1996: Royal Malaysia Police Order for Valour Medal34
1998: Meritorious Service Medal35

Family
Tee is married to Adelene Kong and they have two sons.36




Author

Terence Foo



References
1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2002, June 25). Appointment of Singapore’s high commissioner to Cyprus [Press release]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
2. Miller, D. (1997, July 1). Goodbye, Police Commissioner TeeThe Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Lim, J. (Interviewer). (2001, May 26). Oral history interview with Tee Tua Ba [Transcript of MP3 recording no. 002323/2/1]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
4. Cambridge higher school certificate exam results. (1962, February 28). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. 14 called to the Bar in Singapore. (1966, December 15). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Brunei posting for ex-police chief. (1997, August 6). The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Youths on the fringe. (1993, May 21). The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Hoe, P. S. (2015, May 25). He faced off against terrorists, triads. The Straits Times. Retrieved 2016, April 28 from AsiaOne website: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/he-faced-against-terrorists-triads
9. Soh, F. (1992, June 30). New police chief man behind big drug bust, prison reforms. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Fong, L. (1974, February 17). The Laju affair. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Three men who had to deal with the Bukom bombers. (1974, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. N-Day honours for Laju heroes. (1974, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Soh, F. (1992, June 30). New police chief man behind big drug bust, prison reforms. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. CNB chief expected to rejoin Police force. (1981, March 5). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. CID Chief: new breed of young dangerous thugs. (1981, September 12). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from Newspaper SG.
16. Senior police officer to join Prisons. (1987, November 26). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Who’s Who Publishing. (2003). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, p. 410. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
18. Miller, D. (1997, July 1). Goodbye, Police Commissioner TeeThe Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Ng, W. C. (1990, March 3). New style of prison officer. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Soh, F. (1992, June 30). New police chief man behind big drug bust, prison reforms. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Policemen given core values to guide their actions. (1995, April 4). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Miller, D. (1997, March 22). Robbery and murder rates hit 30-year low. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Chong, C. K. (2008, March 17). Some findings about escape won't be revealed. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Ministry of Home Affairs. (2013, December 13). Appointment of a Committee of Inquiry into Little India Riot on 8 December 2013 [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, April 28 from Ministry of Home Affairs website: https://www.mha.gov.sg/Newsroom/press-releases/Pages/Appointment-of-a-Committee-of-Inquiry-into-Little-India-Riot-on-8-December-2013-.aspx
25. Koh, L. (1998, August 9). Top award for ex-police chief. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2013, February 27). Appointments of Singapore’s ambassador to the State of Qatar, Singapore’s ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Singapore’s non-resident ambassador to Switzerland [Press Release]. Retrieved 2016, May 17 from Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/media_centre/press_room/pr/2013/201302/press_20130227.html
27. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2013, February 27). Appointments of Singapore’s ambassador to the State of Qatar, Singapore’s ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Singapore’s non-resident ambassador to Switzerland [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, April 28 from Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/media_centre/press_room/pr/2013/201302/press_20130227.printable.html?status=1
28. Tan, T. (2008, December 19). Red Cross gets new chairmanThe Straits Times, p. 61. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Red Cross Society. (n.d.). Patron & council. Retrieved 2016, May 17 from Singapore Red Cross Society website: https://www.redcross.sg/about-us/our-team/patron-council.html
29. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2013, February 27). Appointments of Singapore’s Ambassador to the State of Qatar, Singapore’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador to Switzerland [Press Release]. Retrieved 2016, May 17 from Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/media_centre/press_room/pr/2013/201302/press_20130227.html
30. N-Day honours for Laju heroes. (1974, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. New millitary honours for outstanding SAF officers. (1981, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Who's Who Publishing. (2003). Who's who in Singapore. Singapore: Who's Who Publishing, p. 410. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
33. KL civilian award for police commissioner. (1994, October 5). The Straits Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Brunei posting for ex-police chief. (1997, August 6). The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Koh, L. (1998, August 9). Top award for ex-police chiefThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Egypt, UK get new Singapore diplomats. (2002, January 5). Today, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further resources on the topic.

 

Subject
Personalities>>Biographies
Police chiefs--Singapore--Biography
Personalities
Diplomatic and consular service--Singapore--Biography
Ambassadors
Red Cross and Red Crescent--Biography
Lawyers