Balance communications ban during attacks with need to stay informed

The importance of expanded police power in a terror attack in the name of "not compromising police operations" is appreciated, but questions loom over its implications on press freedom (Bill to give police more powers in a terror attack; Feb 28).

Under such a ruling, there might be limited or no news coverage of such incidents, as reporters will be barred from covering the story - a breaking news story. This is something hard to fathom.

Would the media have to rely on just press releases? Will people who tip off the media be implicated too?

By controlling the flow of information from the scene, it is difficult for people to know what is going on.

What about those people at the scene who send information to friends out of genuine concern, urging them to avoid the place? After all, informing others of a terror attack is a perfectly logical thing to do.

What implication would this Bill have on the SGSecure app? Care has to be taken to ensure effectiveness and public confidence in the app are not compromised.

In the end, I suppose the slapping of an out-of-bounds marker here is justified because national security is imperative.

I trust that the Government has introduced this Bill in good faith. But it must ensure that, with the restriction of information out of the zone, people do not jump to conclusions and speculate.

In addition, the authorities have to sustain public confidence and ensure that people do not perceive their actions as a cover-up.

Sean Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2018, with the headline 'Balance communications ban during attacks with need to stay informed'. Print Edition | Subscribe