Parliament: 2M declassified government records of more than 25 years old available online

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
(PHOTO: YouTube screengrab)

SINGAPORE — The National Archives of Singapore (NAS) has about 2 million government records in its custody that are more than 25 years old and are deemed as public archives, said Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann on Wednesday (4 September).

“At present, the meta data of 160,000 records are publicly accessible on the NAS archives online portal. This number will grow as we work with government agencies to progressively declassify government records,” said Sim in Parliament.

But while all declassified records are publicly searchable on the NAS Archives online portal, Sim noted that not all government records can be released for open access, especially those that relate to national defence, foreign relations and internal security.

Sim was responding to a parliamentary question from Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leon Perera about the proportion of declassified government documents that are part of the public archives.

In a supplementary question, Perera pointed that not all of the declassified documents are fully available. “In some cases, you have to ask for written permission, in some cases conditional permission is given...on the basis of whether you are a researcher.”

The NCMP asked if unfettered access could be given to anyone who wishes to access the documents, and what the working definition of a “researcher” is.

In response, Sim said, “We hope to make as many documents and records publicly viewable and also searchable as possible. So all this is ongoing work. But really, I think the priority is to declassify as many documents as we can and to encourage our agencies to do so and to help us in doing that.”

She added that 750 officers from different government agencies have been sent for basic declassification training in recent years.

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