CLARIFICATION BY MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (TRACETOGETHER)

MP Pritam Singh

Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I did not expect Minister to issue this statement at this current point in time, but I think it behoves me to ask some questions.

I thank Minister for acknowledging that the CPC was not really in his contemplation when that statement was made. I think Minister has made that remark in good faith and we will take it as it is.

But Minister made another comment about the Police judiciously using the information that is collected by TraceTogether. Can the Minister further explain under what circumstances the Police would be calling on that information because Police investigations would, by nature of our legislation, comprise of a wide spectrum of offences. So, the expectation cannot be that this information could be used at first instance whenever a Police investigation commences.

I am also mindful as to whether this question should be put to the Minister for Home Affairs or the Minister-in-charge of Smart Nation. So, I think some clarification of this would be quite important for members of the public because everybody wants TraceTogether to succeed, in view of the public health considerations. But this particular point has done has caused consternation and that also probably explains why the Minister has decided to make this clarification.

The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr K Shanmugam): I thank the Member. I think Mr Singh will know under section 20 of the CPC, the Police are authorised to seek any information within the possession of a person. There are various provisions. As long as the seeking of such information is not excluded by some other written law. There are some provisions and some written laws which circumscribe the exercise of Police powers. Subject to that, the CPC gives the power to the Police and when such a power is given, the Police are obviously under a duty as well.

To give you an example. Let us say there is a murder and the victim, the victim’s family and information is available on the TraceTogether token. If Police chose not to seek that information, you can imagine how the victim’s family and indeed the rest of Singapore might react to that situation. You could even argue that there can be a judicial review application in such a situation.

However, given that this TraceTogether token is necessary for dealing with the pandemic and it is of national importance and its purposes are to help us deal with the pandemic, the Police approach has been and will be that it is pretty much restricted to very serious offences. And while that requirement is not in the legislation, it will be carefully considered within the Police and discretion will be exercised in seeking this information.

Ministry of Home Affairs
5 January 2021

https://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/sprs3topic?reportid=clarification-1547

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