It was revealed in Parliament on Monday (4 Jan) that the Singapore police are empowered to obtain any data under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), including data from COVID-19 contact tracing system TraceTogether.
Following this, Singapore People’s Party (SPP) member Khan Osman Sulaiman took to his Facebook on Tuesday (5 Jan) to give his two cents on the matter.
Mr Osman said that the underlying issue is not about the police having access to contact tracing data, but rather about the ministers – notably Minister for Education Lawrence Wong – misleading the public having assured everyone that the data collected will only be used for contact tracing.
True enough, during a Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) press conference in June last year, Mr Wong, who co-chairs the MTF, and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan both stressed that data from the TraceTogether app and token would not be used for anything else other than for the purposes of contact tracing.
“There is no intention to use a TraceTogether app, or TraceTogether token, as a means of picking up breaches of existing rules. The app and the device, plus SafeEntry combined, are meant to provide us with information in a timely manner so that we can do speedy, fast, and effective contact tracing,” said Mr Wong.
Echoing the similar notion, Dr Balakrishnan asserted, “The TraceTogether app, TraceTogether running on a device, and the data generated are purely for contact tracing. Period.”
Coming back to Mr Osman’s post, the SPP member compared this scenario with the Central Provident Fund (CPF) situation – in which the Government promised that Singaporeans can withdraw from their CPF at the age of 55 when the scheme was introduced, but later on the minimum withdrawal age was increased to 65.
“Forever changing the goal post,” he remarked.
Mr Osman went on to say that the Government should have disclosed earlier that the police would also have access to data from the TraceTogether system.
“Just that, for now it creates a perception that the [Government isn’t] truthful about the whole matter,” he added.