HDB officer who shared confidential information with ST reporter met her on a dating app

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A 25-year-old Housing Development Board (HDB) officer was sentenced to a $2000 fine in court today under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for “wrongfully communicating confidential information” to a Straits Times reporter.

The court heard that the officer, Ng Han Yuan, had met the Straits Times reporter, Janice Tai, through a dating app called Coffee Meets Bagel. Having exchanged numbers, the pair met every fortnight. During one such meeting on May 31, Ng disclosed confidential information regarding a resale portal project HDB was undertaking.

Ng, who works as an estate manager from the resale operations section of the HDB, did not have the authorisation to disclose this information and chose to do so, despite knowing that Tai was a reporter with Singapore Press Holdings.

Tai asked Ng whether she could publish a story about the HDB portal and Ng reportedly said that she should not since the information was confidential.

Despite this, Ng still continued to answer Tai’s questions about the portal project over the next two months. In response to Tai’s questions over from late June to mid July, Ng revealed that the portal was for resale flats only but would also cater to new and rental flats. Ng further confirmed HDB’s plans to create a new resale portal which would integrate all the eligibility checks for the purchase or transfer of a resale flat on one platform.

HDB is the body that first flagged a suspected leak of confidential information after it received queries from Tai regarding the 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 Tai had approached several parties with questions relating to the confidential information about a project titled “Streamlining of Resale Transactions.”

Ng “got carried away” due to romantic feelings for Tai

In seeking a $1,000 fine for the offence, Ng’s lawyer Kevin Cheng asserted that Ng had developed romantic feelings for Ms Tai and “got carried away”. Mr Cheng added that Ng only disclosed the information to “placate” Tai, hoping that she would release the information only after HDB did.

Stressing that Ng did not benefit from the disclosure of the information, Mr Cheng added that Ng made “numerous attempts” to discourage Tai from running the story when he found out that she was about to do so.

While Mr Cheng argued that the information on the portal was not “state secrets per se” and that the consequences fell on the “less serious end of the spectrum,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohubalan took a different view and noted that although Ng had cooperated, he was “caught red-handed” and that it was only through police investigations that his involvement was revealed.

Seeking the maximum fine of S$2,000 to serve as a deterrent, Mr Gohubalan added that Ng concealed his role in the disclosure during HDB’s internal investigations and that Ng had caused “significant inconvenience” to his employer who had to prepone the resale portal’s launch to October instead of the previously scheduled January 2018.

Despite being sentenced to the maximum fine by the court, Ng appeared relieved. He was spotted huddled outside in prayer with five other individuals, believed to be family members, just before court had started.

Ng, who seemed relaxed during the court proceedings, later told reporters outside court that he was remorseful for his honest mistake:

“I let my guard down and inadvertently gave information to someone I considered a personal friend.
“So I’m grateful the court recognises the particular circumstances under which the disclosure of information was made and has ordered a fine without a custodial sentence.
“I hope to be given a chance to learn from this episode and to continue to work for HDB in the future because I never intended for the information to be used as a story or cause my organisation any harm.”

HDB revealed last month that Ng had been suspended from duties temporarily pending the outcome of the court case:

“We will assess the situation and take appropriate disciplinary action based on the outcome of the court proceedings. HDB takes a serious view of any unauthorised disclosure of information.”

As for Tai, she was given a stern warning by the police. Editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, Mr Warren Fernandez, later said that the paper will take “collective responsibility” and that the paper will review the case:

“The OSA is a wide, sweeping law, covering all manner of government information. Like it or not, our journalists have had to navigate this difficult terrain, and we give our full support to all of them in doing their jobs on behalf of the paper,” Mr Fernandez said. 
“In the same way, we stand by our colleague, Janice Tai, who was pursuing information for a story with the knowledge and backing of her supervisors.” 

Charge Against HDB Officer Leaves Netizens with More Questions Than Answers

 

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124 comments

  1. The reporter is an untrustworthy person. She is one not to engage in a relationship with for she compromised the position of the gentleman in question, and without thought put herself at risk for following through with the story. A stern warning? She knew it was wrong. She should have received a fine. The gentleman told her not to do so but she insisted.

  2. Facebook Profile photo
    rlsh2017 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Exactly. Not just one mouth but 2 which can be disastrous for the opposite sex. When they open to spit, its toxic. Both Mouth Like Chicken Backside Some More Kenna Diarrhoea!

  3. Facebook Profile photo
    rlsh2017 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Cock teaser bitch. Ought to paste her photo all over Geylang & read: Jobs Vacancy: Labors Needed To Dig A Dirty Hole!

  4. Facebook Profile photo
    rlsh2017 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Beneath her waist blinded him and he got suck by a hole. She don’t even have a Come F Me Look, yet he is a Have Gun Will Travel. Poor judgement Ng!

  5. Facebook Profile photo
    Lester Kok ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    (Reposted from my Fb)

    The ‘spy’ who loves me not? …

    Fair’s fair — what’s sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose: if the leaker is being punished, shouldn’t the ‘spy’ too? Who says is all fair in love and war!

    But don’t they look good as a couple? Frankly, they should just kiss and make up…sending my best to them as an item.

  6. Aileen Tan says:

    The lady reporter has no concerns whether he will lose his job so this means she has no liking for him n just using him to dig info. She can betray anyone in that case if she has no interest in opp party, she spoilt image of all reporters n she is scot free!

  7. Think Garmen over reacted on a very small matter about a internet portal. Everyone is out creating portals. What is so SECRET about this HDB portal that it is classified under OSA?? A case of overkill to warn the public?

  8. She have to be blame too she know cannot release to the new , she claim credit and other lost a job , hope every one can see her face , I will not use her if she come to my company,

    1. Terrie Tan says:

      If you’re her friend and defending her left, right, centre, go tell her that her public rep is looking pretty darn nasty right now and suggest that she lie low. No?

    2. Terrie Tan says:

      Tiffany Teo Tiang Yu no of course it is about her. Did you not read? Her date told her *specifically* NOT to publish or write about the story because it was confidential information yet she pressed on and even went a step further to ask HDB about it, perfectly ratting on him knowing it would get him in trouble. Her gain at his expense. If this is not immoral, i do not know what is.

    3. No, this is not about her, but her editors. The story is so patently about something that could affect the market, though likely only minutely. SPH reporters could not get to big stories that benefit the whole society, such as why the MRT always malfunctions. Instead some not very exciting ones, such as launching a site on resale flats. If that is one-upmanship aginast other tival media, i think SPH journalism has little to brag about.

    1. Terrie Tan says:

      Tiffany Teo Tiang Yu your statement on good reporters is a myth. Your statement on bad reporters is false because caring about what their editors want is professionally ethical which makes them “good” reporters.

    2. No, not all. Good reporters care about what readers should know. Bad reporters care about what their editors want to know or publish. Two different breeds. Naturally, bad editors produce bad reporters. That is the case with the local media.

  9. 自古男人难过”美人”关。这女人或许是你的祸水。经一次长一次,别再犯同样的错误了。Never disclose things that doesn’t belong to you….

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