I think that it might be fair to suggest that most people would consider the recent SingHealth data breach where the personal details of over 1.5 million people (including those of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) were illegally accessed is much worse than anything the Workers’ Party could have done while running the Aljunied Hougang or Pasir Ris Punggol Town Councils.
The SingHealth data breach has had international repercussions affecting our global image as a smart hub. It also affected much more people. The Committee of Inquiry (COI) that has been convened to investigate this hack has already identified many issues that were lacking within the Integrated Health Systems (IHiS).
It was in many ways, IHiS’s alleged gross negligence that contributed to such an “epic fail”. Yet, it looks as if, the WP have endured far more severe repercussions than IHiS.
WP have been and continue to be dragged through a lengthy and very public court process. While it is ostensibly a civil suit, it must be noted that the state is arguably involved in bringing about this suit. It is after all the Housing Development Board (HDB) (a government statutory board) that took this matter up, driving the process of appointing a third party committee which decided to pursue the WP through the courts via a civil suit.
This resulted in a strange and uncomfortable situation of the town council suing its own chairman under the guise of an independent committee. If WP loses the case, the top brass of the WP could be liable for huge amounts of damages which could potentially render them bankrupt. It is noteworthy to remember that Singapore does not permit bankrupted individuals to run for elections and our general election is rumoured to be next year.
While IHiS has been singled out at the COI, what is the actual punishment it and its key personnel will receive as a result of this embarrassing hack which made worldwide headlines?
Following the WP case on the news, I still fail to see the actual damage proven to be done to WP’s constituents while the fallout created by the SingHealth hack is obvious. Yet it is the WP that is being vilified in court while IHiS has had to endure a comparatively rather gently worded COI. While I understand that the legal process is different, I cannot help but notice the stark difference in approach, handling and treatment.
From a layman’s perspective, it seems blatantly unfair.