For the second time in less than a year, Singapore has been shocked by a serious data breach concerning medical information. From June to July last year, the data of 1.5 million patients was accessed by a state-linked group of hackers who attacked SingHealth, and, just this week, the country learned that the medical information of more than 14,000 HIV patients was illegally accessed by an American former lecturer, now on the run from authorities.
The country has naturally been up in arms over the serious data breaches. There have been many online comments calling for accountability of officials involved, as well as people throwing shade on these officials’ competence and performance.
However, one of the country’s leaders has chosen to shine the light on the plight of the people most affected by the breach, the HIV patients who have suddenly become more vulnerable.
In a Facebook post, Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin chose to focus his attention on the people whose names are on the illegally-accessed list.
Tan starts out by asking the hard questions, such as, why did the two men at the heart of the scandal, Mikhy Farrera Brochez, the former lecturer from the US, and his partner Dr. Ler Teck Siang, do what they did?
And more importantly, Tan points out, “what would we as Singaporeans do?”
He then focused on the people who were unwittingly exposed, and how “fearful and traumatised” they must feel, because of the potential responses of their friends and families.
He writes, “I hope we all realise that this is different because of the potential real impact it can have on people’s lives. Let us show that we can be different. Let us be empathetic and not participate in the online hate that may be generated. Make a stand. It is not acceptable.”
He asked everyone not to bring in the question of sexual orientation into the fray. “Whether you are for or against LGBT is irrelevant. For that matter, heterosexuals do contract HIV too. So please don’t drag these issues into the fray. Treat our fellow humans as fellow humans, with dignity and respect, care and compassion. It is within our abilities to do so.”
Tan also provided a number as to where Singaporeans can report any important information that may be passed along to them, as well as links concerning HIV/AIDS.
Here is Tan’s post in full.
Why the two chaps did what they did? I’d never understand. The more important question now is what would we as Singaporeans do?
It is tremendously challenging for those whose names may be in the lists. They are fearful and traumatised. But they are fearful and traumatised because they fear the response and reactions of their loved ones, colleagues, friends. And the public. Our response.
We all know how nasty things can get. As a political leader, we get slammed, slimed and burnt in all shape and form. It’s a spectator sport. I’m sure it’d happen with this post too. But I hope we all realise that this is different because of the potential real impact it can have on people’s lives. Let us show that we can be different. Let us be empathetic and not participate in the online hate that may be generated. Make a stand. It is not acceptable. Even more critically, be mindful of how we respond in person. This is not the early years where people get hysterical about HIV because of a lack of knowledge. Whether you are for or against LGBT is irrelevant. For that matter, heterosexuals do contract HIV too. So please don’t drag these issues into the fray. Treat our fellow humans as fellow humans, with dignity and respect, care and compassion. It is within our abilities to do so. And do not share information when it is put out. Report to the authorities at 6325 9220
Please help share so that more can understand and reflect on what we all need to do. Remember. HIV is less contagious than your common cough, cold, flu, measles, chicken pox etc. So let’s stay calm and support our fellow Singaporeans.
Netizens have expressed their appreciation at Tan’s call for compassion for the unwitting HIV patients.