SINGAPORE — A 36-year-old woman who leaked confidential information on the number of daily COVID-19 cases before its public disclosure by the Ministry of Health (MOH) was on Friday (20 August) fined $10,000.
Tang Lin pleaded guilty to five charges under the Official Secrets Act, for which the Singaporean was fined $2,000 per charge.
The offences took place between March and April last year.
Tang got the confidential information from her acquaintance Zhao Zheng, also 36, who was the deputy lead of the Data Management Unit set up by MOH. Zhao, also a Singaporean, allegedly shared the information in a WeChat group comprising Tang and others.
On 16 April last year, the police received a report from a member of the public that the number of daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Singapore for that day had been leaked online even though MOH had not publicly released the figures.
Zhao allegedly unlawfully shared the number of new COVID-19 cases on 22 occasions in March and April last year. Her case is pending before the court.
Tang then unlawfully shared the information with others. She and Zhao were charged in April this year.
In response to queries by Yahoo News Singapore, MOH earlier said that it "takes a very serious view of any wrongful access and communication of information by our staff".
It added, "The alleged offence took place in April 2020. The officer was suspended from work once MOH was informed that the police had started investigations and access to the ministry’s confidential information was also terminated.
"Following the incident, MOH has reviewed and tightened our information security protocols and processes."
The maximum punishment for wrongful communication of information under the OSA is up two years' jail and a fine of $2,000.
Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore