SINGAPORE: Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo took exception to some opposition Members of Parliament, such as the Workers’ Party’s (WP) Sylvia Lim, using the phrase “crisis of confidence” in the House on Wednesday (Jan 10), to illustrate how many fear being scammed.

Ms Teo had said she was not sure what the purpose was of describing the problem as a “crisis of confidence.” She went on to liken the agencies dealing with scams with firefighters dealing with a fire while bystanders are “instead of praying for them, encouraging them, are saying to them, ‘You should, be doing this, you should be doing that,’ pontificating.”

“And then when they do manage to put out some fires, the very same bystanders say, ‘Thank goodness I said that.’ I say to members, have a care. This is a tough fight…So let’s cheer them on,” said Ms Teo.

Ms Lim, who is also chairperson of the WP, clarified that she had not intended to create panic or politicize the issue but asserted that her use of the phrase reflects “the current sentiment in significant sections of the public.”

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Citing an Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) report released last month, which said that 99 per cent of people aged 60 and above are worried about becoming scam victims, Ms Lim stressed: “That’s almost a hundred per cent of people in this age group.”

She then mentioned a point that had been brought up earlier in the sitting, that some residents have ignored official communications because they could not tell the difference between a message from the government and a scammed message, with messages to enroll in HealthierSG having gone ignored.

Another reason why Ms Lim refers to the situation as a “crisis” is the high statistics of scam losses alongside a campaign to raise awareness of scams. “As (Ms Teo) herself pointed out, the fact that there’s so much public education now may lead to feelings of anxiety in the public, which I think are very real,” she said.

The Aljunied MP also said that she dubbed the issue a crisis as members of the public have told her that they want to take their accounts offline, including retirees with CPF transactions.

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She added that the purpose of setting up the new task force on the resilience and security of digital infrastructure and services is to oversee matters of public confidence, saying: “So I would argue that there is a serious issue with public confidence.”

While Ms Lim said the WP has acknowledged and appreciated the work the agencies involved have already done, she added, “I believe I am entitled to my opinion, just as the Minister is entitled to her opinion.”

/TISG

Read also: In Parliament: Sylvia Lim urges more protection against scams for Singaporeans