Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied): Thank you, Chairman. Sir, in the second half of last year, I wrote to the National Archives in Singapore to request two Government files, the challenge of attracting international talent and the evolution of the work pass framework. Both these documents were referred to by a writer in the bibliography of his book, “The History of the People’s Action Party”, which is now on public sale. The National Archives said that they did not have the documents but that they were in the hands of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
I wrote to MOM. However, MOM replied to say that it does not, as a general policy, grant public access to Government files that have not been made public through the National Archives. It also said that Members of Parliament similarly do not have access to Government files and can seek information from the Government through a Parliamentary Question. It also shared that for the book in question, the Ministry granted special permission to cite relevant information in some Government files, subject to conditions to do research in the writing of the book.
I find it incongruent that such information on important national policies can be extended to a researcher but not to legislators for whom the background to policy can be critical. Would the Government be prepared to loosen its criteria for request to such file, which have already been made conditionally public to others for research purposes to all sitting Members of Parliament?
Ministry of Communications and Information
28 February 2023