Singapore — The disclosure on Monday (Jan 4) by Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan that TraceTogether data could be used by the police in criminal investigations has continued to have reverberations online, with even pro-administration figures weighing in on the matter.
Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who said in June last year that the TraceTogether app would be used only for contact tracing amid the Covid-19 pandemic, admitted in Parliament the next day that he had “misspoken”, and that this had caused him “sleepless nights”.
Dr Balakrishnan is also Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative.
In Parliament, he added: “Frankly, I had not thought of the CPC when I spoke earlier… But having thought about it, discussed, consulted people both within and outside this House, I’ve come to the conclusion that right now, we are doing well. We are able to keep Singapore safe, we are able to deal with the current crisis.”
Some seem to believe that public trust has been breached, however inadvertently.
On Friday (Jan 8), former People’s Action Party Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh made known his views on the matter in a Facebook post that has been widely shared.
He said: “Singapore’s progress has continued to break world records and one of the hallmarks of our success has been not just a strong government but the Trust people have in the government. Leaders must never allow trust to be eroded. Be upfront, honest and apologise if you made a mistake. Remember this (not just for political leaders but all leaders) — trust must be earned yourself and cannot be transferred from one generation to another.”
He added a screenshot of an opinion piece in The Straits Times by Associate Editor Chua Mui Hoong entitled “Trust, TraceTogether And Treatment Of Cancer Patients”.
Ms Chua underlined the importance of how leaders deal with situations such as the one involving TraceTogether.
“Trust is Singapore’s most valuable domestic currency, and one that a new generation of political leaders stepping up to lead the nation must work doubly hard to mint.
“Trust lubricates interpersonal ties and inter-group interactions. It is the basis on which the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP) has ruled Singapore without a break since 1959, winning election after election,” she wrote.
One comment on Mr Singh’s post contained a reminder of remarks from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself concerting trust.
At the PAP convention in November 2017, PM Lee said: “We have a deep reservoir of trust with the people. We must continue to deepen this trust, and never break it.”
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