Singapore—The recent announcement that data from TraceTogether may be used in criminal investigations has reverberated on social media, with some, including opposition politicians, weighing in on the matter.
On Monday (Jan 4), Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan said in Parliament that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) is empowered under the CPC to obtain data for criminal investigations, including data from contact tracing. Many expressed their concerns online over security and privacy issues, and the news that the Government was allowing this was reported all over the world.
Moreover, Mr Tan’s announcement was in stark contrast to what Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative and Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said in June of last year, that TraceTogether would be used for the sole purpose of contact tracing.
In response to this, Dr Chee Soon Juan, the secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), posted a photo, now widely shared, of other instances when other ministers said one thing, side by side with what another leader said that seemed to contradict the statement of the first minister.
He captioned it by writing “The change in the TraceTogether policy is just the latest in a long series of the PAP’s saying one thing and doing another.”
In bold letters at the bottom of the photo, it reads, “TRUST IS NOT WHAT YOU SAY, IT’S WHAT YOU DO.”
His party-mate Dr Paul Tambyah, who chairs the SDP, shared Dr Chee’s post, and wrote, “Trust once lost is hard to get back.”
Other opposition politicians weighed in on the issue of trust as well, including lawyer Lim Tean, the founder and Secretary-General of People’s Voice.
Mr Lim wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Jan 6), “when the government has given its word, they should jolly well change the law, which can easily be done, if that is what is needed to keep their word. Don’t hide behind the skirt of some law like the Criminal Procedure Code, to backtrack on your promise to Singaporeans.
They need not even change the law if they are serious about keeping their word. The Government could issue a directive to the Police that they would not be allowed access to the information, period. Look how resolute the Australian Government has been in not allowing the Australian Police to have access to their tracing information.”
As for Progress Singapore Party politician and Non Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai, he wrote on Thursday (Jan 7) that “𝐀 𝐖𝐞𝐥𝐥–𝐃𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜 𝐓𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭.”
Mr Leong wrote that while he continues “to believe in the integrity of the Minister and the Government,” he added that because Dr Balakrishnan had delayed in addressing the issue after he realized that the CPC applied to TraceTogether, this “reduced the value of his frank admission and damaged public trust.”
He added, however, that he believed that this trust could be restored “if a proper process has taken place. I recommend the Government to do a more thorough review pertaining to the use of personal data collected for specific purposes in order to restore public confidence and trust.”
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