A backlash from netizens ensued after Senior Minister of State for Communications & Information Janil Puthucheary announced in Parliament on Monday (Feb 3) that government agencies have to sometimes disclose personal information of those who complain publicly.
Mr Puthucheary noted that this applies especially when a complainant has called public attention to an incident. He added that this was to correct inaccuracies and provide an accurate picture of what occurred, so as to maintain public trust and to serve all citizens effectively”.
Mr Puthucheary was responding to questions asked by Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Walter Theseira, who asked what considerations government agencies factor in before deciding to reveal personal information about people who make public complaints.
Theseira also asked if there are any safeguards to ensure that only a minimum amount of personal information is revealed to establish the facts of the case.
The answer was that personal information is revealed if the agencies’ clarification may be disputable or not clear enough without it. Also, personal information is only disclosed if it is specific enough to provide a full picture and allow the person who made the complaint to challenge the government’s account of the case, if necessary. Mr Puthucheary also added that care is taken not to disclose personal information that is not relevant to the case.
Netizens did not take well to the government’s line of reasoning as they felt that the point of exposing this information was to “shame him/her”.
Others also said that “the reply only consider (sic) the issue from the authority’s pov (sic) instead of the citizen’s concern and his welfare”. They added that “It might set a bad precedence in future whereby real grievances or concerns about public policies are not brought up in the public domain promptly due to fear”.
Another netizen pointed out that the identities of peeping toms were protected, while the personal information of complainants may be made public.
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