Parliament: National security, privacy among factors considered in declassifying documents, says Sim Ann

The building of the National Archives of Singapore, an institution of the National Library Board, located at 1 Canning Rise.
The building of the National Archives of Singapore, an institution of the National Library Board, located at 1 Canning Rise. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE STREET VIEW

SINGAPORE - Government documents are declassified and made available for public access after factors such as national security concerns and personal privacy considerations are taken into account.

On Monday (Sept 10), Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, elaborated on the procedures involved when government records which are more than 25 years old become part of the public archives.

Ms Sim, who was replying to a parliamentary question filed by Nominated MP Kok Heng Leun, said the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) first digitises the government documents in their existing formats, whether they are microfilm or paper records.

The NAS then sends the digitised material to the relevant government agency for declassification, she said.

After review, the agency will decide if the documents can be released for viewing, citation and reproduction.

"During the review of documents, the agency will take into account national security concerns, confidentiality obligations and personal privacy considerations," she told the House.

If the documents can be released, their metadata is made available through NAS' Archives Online portal, so that the documents can be made searchable, Ms Sim said.

 
 
 

In a clarification, Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) asked if information in the documents - such as those having national security concerns - is redacted and the documents still released for public access, or not released at all.

In reply, Ms Sim said: "We will release documents that have met or have addressed the concerns which I have listed before, which deal with national security, which deal with personal privacy, as well as confidentiality obligations."