Oral Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Transcript of Mr K Shanmugam’s Clarification to Supplementary Question by Ms Sylvia Lim for Parliamentary Question

Published: 18 February 2022


1.    Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I rise to clarify a question that Miss Sylvia Lim asked.

2.    She said that she had received a threat warning from Apple that, it could be that, her phone could be under threat of hacking by state sponsored agencies. And, she asked for confirmation that her phone has not been hacked by Singapore state agencies. I think this happened a bit earlier.

3.    Sir, I can tell Miss Lim that her phone has not been hacked by Singapore state agencies. In the time available between when she raised it in Parliament and now, I think the last X number of minutes or so, I speak for agencies under Ministry of Home Affairs, and I had a quick check with Security and Intelligence Division (SID). Now, I think if one is serious about such threats, the proper way to do it, if you are serious about finding out whether your phone has been hacked and by whom, is to come to the Ministry of Home Affairs. We will do a thorough investigation.

4.    If you raise it in Parliament, then we must assume the intention is to publicise the fact rather than actually get to the bottom of it. And it’s obvious then, why it’s made public. We would like to see the precise notification from Apple. Is it a general notification that they sent to a number of people? Or was it a specific notification? And if it’s a specific notification to Miss Lim’s phone, the Ministry of Home Affairs will be very interested. Because, and particularly with a state sponsored agency, because this is something that we are extremely concerned about. She is a Member of Parliament. All Members of Parliament are potential targets.  And we would like to know, and we would like to get to the bottom of it, as to who is trying to get into her phone.

5.    Also, the normal practice that we take is that we do not confirm or deny because Members of Parliament (MPs) have no immunity. In this sense, MPs are high value targets for foreign agencies. As our own experience and the experience of other countries have shown, even as late as last year, in Australia and so on. It is the duty of our security agencies to be very aware of whether MPs or Ministers or senior civil servants or those around them or their families are being approached or suborned. It is in the interest of Singapore and the security of Singapore that state agencies are on top of the game. So, I do not intend in future, to confirm or deny. But I can say, specific to the question asked by Ms Lim, I think in the context of the question having been asked, I decided that we will answer this question.

6.    Thank you, Sir.