As the high profile Worker’s Party (WP) lawsuit dominates the press headlines, accusations are fast and furious. Senior Counsel, Davinder Singh who acts for the Pasir Ris Town Council implied in court that the WP had in some way misused town council monies to benefit their own family and friends thereby breaching their fiduciary duties while lawyers for the WP maintained that the WP had acted within the law and in good faith. Given that this court case shines the spotlight on the duty of care that our public officers have over public monies, I would like to take this opportunity to explore all the fiduciary duties owed to the public by all elected politicians.
As the court case is on going, I will let the process run its course and not speculate on its potential outcome. Given that the Pasir Ris Town Council and the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council have made the point of emphasising the fiduciary duties that elected politicians have, I would like to ask if the government holds the same high standards for its own government departments. What about the fiduciary duties owed by SingHealth to Singaporeans who utilise their services?
Isn’t SingHealth obliged to protect the data of Singaporeans? Don’t they have a fiduciary duty to adequately safeguard our personal data? Given that they have not managed to do so, have they also failed in their fiduciary duties? If so, can the 1.5 million citizens affected similarly mount a class action lawsuit against SingHealth for its failures? It is important to note that the committee of inquiry convened to investigate this breach has already identified many gaps that can be construed as negligence on the part of IHiS and SingHealth.
What has plagued SingHealth has had far greater ramifications than the alleged misdemeanors that took place in the Pasir Ris and Aljunied-Hougang Town Councils. For one, the SingHealth breach affected far more people. If the government wants to set a high standard for fiduciary duties, they this would need to apply equally across the board. It should not be haphazardly applied only to elected opposition MPs. Will there be a panel of set up to represent the 1.5 million people who have had their data stolen?
In our digital age, personal information can be misused for countless nefarious purposes. Arguably, this is far worse than anything that is alleged to have happened at the Pasir Ris and Aljunied-Hougang Town Councils. What is the level of fiduciary duties owned by SingHealth then?
It is easy to point the finger but if SingHealth is not similarly sued, then it is a case of pot calling kettle black.