HDB officer charged with breaching Official Secrets Act for giving confidential info to ST reporter

Ng Han Yuan, who works as an estate manager in the resale operations section of the HDB, had in his possession information relating to an HDB project titled Streamlining of Resale Transactions.
Ng Han Yuan, who works as an estate manager in the resale operations section of the HDB, had in his possession information relating to an HDB project titled Streamlining of Resale Transactions.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - An HDB officer was charged in court on Friday (Nov 10) with breaching the Official Secrets Act (OSA) by giving confidential information to a reporter from The Straits Times.

According to court documents, 25-year-old Ng Han Yuan, who works as an estate manager in the resale operations section of the HDB, had in his possession information relating to an HDB project titled Streamlining of Resale Transactions.

Between May 31 and July 16, Ng is said to have communicated information on the project to ST journalist Janice Tai Jia Ling.

In a statement on Friday, the police said that the HDB alerted them to the case on July 27.

The police added: "This was after HDB had received media queries from an ST reporter on a new initiative, the HDB Resale Portal. The queries had contained information on the initiative which had not been made public at that point in time.

"Police investigations revealed that in May 2017, the HDB officer had shared confidential information with the ST reporter on the new HDB resale portal."

The police said that in July, Ms Tai approached several parties with enquiries relating to the confidential information.

For her actions, the police have issued her a stern warning.

They 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."

The court heard that Ng intends to plead guilty to his offence and will not be engaging a lawyer. He will be back in court on Dec 15.

Those convicted of an offence under the OSA can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $2,000.

In a statement on Friday, Mr Warren Fernandez, editor of The Straits Times and editor-in-chief English Malay Tamil Media Group, said: “The Straits Times wants to place on record its support for our colleague Janice Tai, who was doing her job as a reporter for the paper.

"She continues to be a valued member of the ST newsroom team.”