Over the past week, the Raeesah Khan saga has dominated Parliamentary debates. But yesterday’s (18 Feb) session offered a different kind of excitement when Workers’ Party’s (WP) Ms Sylvia Lim mentioned that she was the victim of a hacking threat.
Sharing that she had received a threat warning on her iPhone, Ms Lim wondered if she should be concerned.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam responded, denying any involvement from the state. He also questioned why Ms Lim decided to raise the matter publicly.
In a Parliament sitting on Friday (18 Feb), Minister of State (MOS) of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Desmond Tan discussed national security matters.
In order to safeguard national security, he explained that agencies have to “rely on a range of intelligence capabilities, including harnessing technology”.
He then concluded by emphasising the Government’s inability to share the specifics of their operations for “obvious reasons”.
After Mr Tan gave the same reply to WP’s Mr Leon Perera’s question about judicial oversight, Ms Sylvia Lim went up to the podium to express her own query.
Mentioning that she had received a threat warning from Apple not long ago, Ms Lim said,
It could be that my iPhone is being the subject of hacking by state-sponsored attackers.
She elaborated that it could likely be because of who she is individually or what she does.
Addressing Mr Tan’s earlier statement, she sought his confirmation that she should have “absolutely no concerns” that Singapore Government agencies are trying to hack into her phone.
Leader of the House Ms Indranee Rajah promptly got up to ask Ms Lim if she was suggesting her engagement in espionage via her sharing.
To this end, Ms Lim said that it was an “open-ended question” and that she was not accusing the Government. If Mr Tan couldn’t answer her, then “so be it”.
In response, Mr Tan then simply advised Ms Lim to make a police report if she had any concerns regarding what happened to her iPhone.
After a short break, Minister Shanmugam took to the podium to address Ms Lim’s queries.
He began by directly clarifying that Ms Lim’s phone had not been hacked by state-sponsored agencies.
Minister Shanmugam then talked about the way Ms Lim had raised her concerns, in a public space like the Parliament.
I think if one is serious about such threats, the proper way to do it if you are serious about finding out if your phone has been hacked, and by whom, is to come to (the) Ministry of Home Affairs. We will do a thorough investigation. If you raise it in Parliament, then we must assume that the intention is to publicise the fact, rather than get to the bottom of it.
Perhaps wanting to get more details, he requested to see the exact notification from Apple to determine if it was a general one that a number of people may have received or a specific one only to Ms Lim’s phone.
In the case of the latter, he said that MHA “would be very interested” as it would be very concerning.
Since Ms Lim is a Member of Parliament (MP) and all MPs are potential targets, MHA would want to get to the bottom of such claims if they are true.
Whether Ms Lim’s concerns are legitimate or not, any form of security threat is no doubt worrying.
We hope that Minister Shanmugam’s assurance helped to alleviate any anxiety she may have had.
Do you think Ms Lim should have raised her question in Parliament? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Featured image adapted from MCI Singapore on YouTube.
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