Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said that he agrees with the judgment call by Ministry of Health (MOH) to not inform patients and public about the HIV data leak.
On Tuesday (12 February), Health Minister Gan Kim Yong defended his ministry in Parliament in the aftermath of the HIV data leak incident and rejected any allegations that the MOH sought to “cover up the incident”.
Mr Tan who as Speaker, listened closely to what the Health Minister said, felt that it was the right move by MOH to not make the news of the data leak public earlier. He revealed this on his Facebook page on Wednesday (13 February).
“When the news broke recently, we could all see the distress and anguish it caused HIV patients. This would have been exactly what they would experience had it been made public earlier. However, at that stage, it was not apparent to MOH that there would be so extensive a leak. Those that had been impacted then were informed. MOH’s judgement then was not to alarm everyone when the threat as we know it now, was not as clear,” he explained.
He added, “My personal guess is also that before a real threat was clear, perhaps one shouldn’t trigger any untoward reactions and make it a self-fulfilling event.”
Last month, the ministry revealed that the HIV-positive status of 14,200 people, along with confidential information such as their identification numbers and contact details, were leaked online by US citizen Mikhy K Farrera Brochez. MOH added that the access to the information was disabled and it is working with other parties to scan the Internet for further disclosures.
In his post, Mr Tan turned the table and asked the public what would they do given the facts and situation. “Announce when it wasn’t clear that the threat was quite so significant, and trigger the anguish and stress? Or try and manage it to ensure the sensitive info is not leaked but always knowing that if it does, that’s when you announce publicly and try and help those affected,” he questioned.
Although he agrees with the judgment call, but he also noted that follow-up steps to tighten protocols to ensure that this doesn’t occur again is critical.
After he published his post, some netizens disagreed with his stand and said that it was indeed MOH’s duty to inform the public of the data leak earlier.
Contrary to Tan’s stand on MOH’s judgement call, businessman Lim Jialing has a different opinion altogether. In his Facebook page, he jokingly said that “when committing corporate fraud and caught, we can now rely on Gan Kim Yong defence.” As an example, he wrote, “It was a judgment call by our c-suite not to go public about our massive losses so as to not alarm our shareholders.”
Now, it’s would be interesting to know if Tan agrees with Lim that this is what people should imitate if they’re caught in a similar situation.