The public was caught by surprise when it was revealed by Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan on Jan 4 that under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the police can obtain any data under Singapore’s jurisdiction for criminal investigations, including TraceTogether data.
Since then, Minister Vivian Balakrishnan had apologised more than once for the oversight in failing to inform the public that TraceTogether is also subject to the CPC.
Dr Vivian is a medical doctor by training. He has taken the Hippocratic Oath. ‘Saving lives’ is his priority. He only thought about TT as a tool to save life. Nothing else.
But sadly the priority of opposing camp politicians is politics. And in politics, you grab every opportunity to hit back at your opponent. Never mind if they have done well or not. Just pick on one area that they didn’t do as good and blow it up to your advantage.
And that’s exactly what the opposition politicians did in Parliament.
Yesterday, a Bill was passed in Parliament which will allow the CPC to use data gleaned from Trace Together to be used for 7 heinous crimes.
Facebook user, Martin credited Minister Vivian Balakrishnam ‘for having the guts to admit his mistake and take the criticisms and blame squarely on the jaw’.
Politics in Parliament from WP
He also took aim at the WP for their characteristic ‘politicking par excellence’ in Parliament, which he said has come to be ‘expected of the WP’.
“The WP characteristically then came on to say via LOS Pritam Singh that this saga had caused public disquiet and had eroded the public’s confidence in the PAP Government,” Martin said.
The WP Chief who is also the Leader of the Opposition had implied in his lengthy speech that the Government was less than forthright to the people of Singapore and called into question, ‘the integrity of the Government’.
Rather than being less than forthright, it will do Pritam Singh good to remember that it was a PAP MP Christopher de Souza who raised the question of whether the TT data could be accessed by Police. It is interesting to note that several of the WP MPs are lawyers by profession – Pritam Singh himself being one – and yet it did not occur to them to raise the question. That much for checking on the government.
Not a loss of confidence; the contrary has been proven
Addressing WP and their supporters, Martin said people in glass houses should not throw stones.
Rather than a loss of confidence, the contrary has been proven, he said. 350 people had asked for their data to be deleted in the past month since the fiasco started. But more than 300,000 people have taken up TraceTogether since then.
This hardly shows that Singaporeans have lost confidence in the Government or this very important initiative, Martin pointed out.
Where’s the forthrightness from WP on their own mistakes?
Martin then contrasted the government’s response to the saga with how WP explained their past mistakes ‘like the AHTC saga which was criminal and their town council cleaning of the Bedok Market ceilings fiasco’.
“You will see the difference between the 2 parties,” Martin asserted.
“In fact Mr Singh said explicitly in Parliament that he would only explain to Residents in Aljunied about the AHTC saga even though it involved public funds and felt no obligation to give an explanation in Parliament,” reminded Martin.
“Unfortunately this brand of politics seems to be acceptable to Singaporeans if you take the GE 2020 results as an indicator,” he continued. “I am also sure the WP will resurface this saga in the next GE.” That’s definitely bad politics.