SFA director-general's personal assistant jailed 6 weeks for leaking circuit breaker details

Noorain Jubli (left) at the State Courts in December 2021. She had leaked circuit breaker details to her husband (right). ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) director-general's personal assistant, who leaked information on school closures and the services that would continue operating during the Covid-19 circuit breaker, was jailed for six weeks on Friday (June 3).

Noorain Jubli, 39, who had access to the director-general's e-mail, leaked sections of the draft press releases to her husband, Khairul Annuar Zakaria, 40.

He then sent the information to a WhatsApp group, and the images found their way to social media and went viral.

Khairul Annuar, a technical officer, was fined $2,000 on Friday.

SFA said it has started disciplinary proceedings against Noorain following her conviction. She has been suspended since April 2020.

The court heard that on April 3, 2020, at 8.38am, an e-mail with information including draft media statements was sent to the director-general.

Noorain saw the e-mail and used her phone to take a picture of a portion of a draft joint media statement.

She sent this to Khairul Annuar on WhatsApp and told him not to share it with others.

Noorain later told him she knew which essential services would continue operating during the circuit breaker, and he asked her to send him the list to find out if his job would be affected.

She sent him eight images of this information.

He found out about the impending circuit breaker through Noorain, who had got the information from a draft Ministry of Health press release setting out the circuit breaker measures.

Khairul Annuar cropped one of the images to reveal only the text and sent it to a WhatsApp group consisting of 12 others.

Khairul Annuar Zakaria at the State Courts in December 2021. He was fined $2,000 on June 3, 2022. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

The draft joint media statement which was leaked stated that the shift to full home-based learning would start on April 13, 2020, for three weeks, but this was inaccurate as schools were suspended from April 8 to May 4 in 2020.

The leak caused public agencies involved in handling the pandemic to redirect resources to deal with the consequences of the leak and any other potential leak, said Deputy Public Prosecutors Selene Yap and Lim Shin Hui.

At about 1pm the same day, Khairul Annuar saw an article on social media that contained the image of the draft joint media statement he had sent to the WhatsApp group.

He deleted all the messages in the chat group relating to the image as one of the online comments suggested that the police would investigate the matter. He also told the group to delete the image.

Noorain did not know that the image had been posted on social media.

At 4pm the same day, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a nationwide address, revealed the details of the circuit breaker, which involved school closures and the shutdown of most workplaces.

The press release on schools was issued to the press and embargoed until the start of the multi-ministry task force press conference at 4.30pm.

For disclosing secret information under the Singapore Food Agency Act, Noorain could have been fined up to $2,000, jailed for up to 12 months, or both.

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