Sunday, October 24, 2021

Another Singapore public servant nabbed for leaking pandemic curbs on WhatsApp

The accused leaked information regarding the suspension of sport, physical activity classes and programmes for children and youth.

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An unidentified public servant has been arrested for allegedly leaking details about the suspension of activities for youngsters under Covid-19 safe management measures before they were officially released publicly, the Straits Times is reporting.

The 32-year-old man was arrested on May 19 for wrongful communication of information under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), the police said in a statement on Sunday.

The statement said they received a report on May 18 that information regarding the suspension of sport, physical activity classes and programmes for children and youth aged 18 and below from May 19 to June 13 had been leaked to the public.

The information was circulating via WhatsApp before Sport Singapore’s official announcement on May 18.

The suspect, who was a public servant and an authorised recipient of the safe management measures for sport and physical activities, allegedly shared the information via the messaging app on May 16 with members of a private chat group who were not authorised to receive it.

Group members then shared the information with others, resulting in a much wider circulation.

Since the start of the pandemic, at least six other people have been charged under the OSA for unauthorised or wrongful communication of information, says CNA.

In May, a Housing and Development Board officer was one of two men charged over unauthorised communication of information about flat inspections.

Kalayarasan Karuppaya, a higher estate executive with HDB at the time of the offences, had allegedly leaked information on HDB’s impending inspections of a flat to a tenant of the unit three times in 2019.

Chua Wee Lin, at the time deputy director at the National Library Board’s property and facilities management department, was also charged in May with sending information about Phase 2 reopening measures to a WhatsApp chat group with 18 other members.

In April, a married couple was charged with leaking an unreleased statement about school closures during the “circuit breaker” last year.

That same month, Zhao Zheng, then deputy lead of the health ministry’s Data Management Unit, faced more than 20 charges after she allegedly leaked daily Covid-19 case numbers to a private WhatsApp group chat before they were officially released.

Those found guilty of wrongful communication of information under the OSA face a fine of up to S$2,000 and up to two years’ jail.

The police said unauthorised recipients should delete and not further circulate any confidential information received, as they may otherwise be similarly liable under the OSA.

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