Ex-paramedic fined $3k for OSA breach

Photo of maid who hanged herself, which she shared, was recirculated on social media

A woman who was working as a paramedic for a private ambulance operator unlawfully forwarded to her boyfriend a photograph of a maid who had hanged herself.

The court heard that Nurizzah Afiqah Hussain, 27, committed the offence as she had wanted to "share her experience" with him. But after Fazli Hisham Mohd Fairuz Shah, 28, shared the photo taken by Nurizzah's colleague with a WhatsApp chat group, it started circulating on social media.

Yesterday, she was fined a total of $3,000 after pleading guilty to two offences under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Nurizzah, now a student, admitted she had unlawfully sent two photos to Fazli - one of the dead maid and one of a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) call sheet.

The court heard that Nurizzah started work as a paramedic for Unistrong Technology in 2014. Her employment contract stated that any information obtained during the course of her work should be kept strictly confidential.

On Feb 1 last year, she was at the Marine Parade Fire Post when she received information about the maid which had been printed on an SCDF call sheet. The document contained a message from the maid's employer that she had hanged herself while the family was overseas for five days.

Nurizzah snapped a picture of the call sheet and sent it via WhatsApp to her boyfriend, even though she was not authorised to do so.

She and her colleagues, including emergency ambulance vehicle driver Shaik Haziq Fahmi Shaik Nasair Johar, 29, then went to the apartment where the dead woman was.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia told District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan that Shaik Haziq used his mobile phone to take a photo of the deceased's body while Nurizzah shone a torchlight on the body.

DPP Teo said Haziq shared the photo with a WhatsApp group which included Nurizzah. She then sent the photo to Fazli, who in turn shared it, together with the photo of the SCDF call sheet, with another chat group. The two photos ended up circulating on social media.

The maid's agent subsequently found out about the pictures and informed her employer. The police were alerted on Feb 3 last year. Nurizzah was arrested early this year.

In mitigation, Nurizzah's lawyer Xavier Lim pleaded for the minimum fine.

"Feeling extremely distressed over the image of a corpse hanging from the ceiling fan, she forwarded the photograph... to her boyfriend to seek emotional comfort without thinking of the consequences of her actions," said Mr Lim.

For each offence under the OSA, Nurizzah could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $2,000. The cases against Fazli and Haziq are pending.

The SCDF said it takes a serious view of any misconduct or wrongdoing by any personnel contracted to provide emergency ambulance services under the Private Ambulance Operator (PAO) arrangement.

It said it will refer such matters for investigation, and violators will face the full extent of the law.

The PAO has terminated the contracts of the persons involved.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2018, with the headline 'Ex-paramedic fined $3k for OSA breach'. Print Edition | Subscribe