A 25-year-old Housing Development Board (HDB) officer was charged in court today under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for “wrongfully communicating confidential information” to a Straits Times reporter.
HDB is the body that first flagged a suspected leak of confidential information. After receiving queries from the newspaper reporter, Janice Tai, on an upcoming initiative that had not been made public at the time, HDB decided to report the suspected leak of information to the police on 27 July this year.
Investigations revealed that a HDB employee, Ng Han Yuan who works as an estate manager from the resale operations section of the HDB, had shared the confidential information with Tai in May.
Tai was found to have approached several parties with questions relating to the confidential information about a project titled “Streamlining of Resale Transactions.”
Following the investigation, the police issued a stern warning to Tai and said:
“The Government takes a serious view of the wrongful communication of confidential information, especially if the party involved is a public officer, and will not hesitate to take action.”
Meanwhile, Ng told the court that he intends to plead guilty today and added that he does not plan on engaging a lawyer.
The OSA is an act which prohibits the disclosure of official documents and information. Ng is charged under the following section of the OSA:
The HDB officer may face imprisonment or fines based on the severity of the case. According to Singapore Statutes Online:
“A person who is guilty of an offence under this Act by reason of section 5, 6, 8 or 11 shall be liable on conviction before a District Court to a fine not exceeding $2,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years. A person charged with an offence by reason of a section mentioned in this subsection may with the consent of the Public Prosecutor be tried before a Magistrate’s Court, and such person shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.”