I’m sure all of you have read the email written by 2LT Li by now. It is all over the internet now, thanks to the new media. As I was reading the email, I was wondering, “Did he commit an offence under the Official Secrets Act?”
In the 2nd paragraph, 2LT Li provided some background of his duties in SAF. He mentioned that some XXX items are placed in YYY location instead of ZZZ location in order to maintain operational readiness of his unit.
Did 2LT Li commit an offence under the Official Secrets Act? Is this piece of information classified? Does everyone in the email list have security clearance to access this piece of information? If they don’t, then 2LT Li might have broken the Official Secrets Act, Section 5.
Wrongful communication, etc., of information
5. —(1) If any person having in his possession or control any secret official code word, countersign or password, or any photograph, drawing, plan, model, article, note, document or information which —
(a) relates to or is used in a prohibited place or anything in such a place;
(b) relates to munitions of war;
(c) has been made or obtained in contravention of this Act;
(d) has been entrusted in confidence to him by any person holding office under the Government; or
(e) he has obtained, or to which he has had access, owing to his position as a person who holds or has held office under the Government, or as a person who holds, or has held a contract made on behalf of the Government or any specified organisation, or as a person who is or has been employed under a person who holds or has held such an office or contract,
does any of the following:
(i) communicates directly or indirectly any such information or thing as aforesaid to any foreign Power other than a foreign Power to whom he is duly authorised to communicate it, or to any person other than a person to whom he is authorised to communicate it or to whom it is his duty to communicate it;
(ii) uses any such information or thing as aforesaid for the benefit of any foreign Power other than a foreign Power for whose benefit he is authorised to use it, or in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interests of Singapore;
(iii) retains in his possession or control any such thing as aforesaid when he has no right to retain it, or when it is contrary to his duty to retain it, or fails to comply with all lawful directions issued by lawful authority with regard to the return or disposal thereof; or
(iv) fails to take reasonable care of, or so conducts himself as to endanger the safety or secrecy of, any such information or thing as aforesaid,
that person shall be guilty of an offence.
I’ve highlighted the portion which I think applies to this case. I didn’t study law back in school. If anyone who study law finds that my interpretation of the Official Secrets Act is wrong, please kindly correct me. Thanks.
(2) A person who is guilty of an offence under this Act by reason of section 5, 6, 8 or 11 shall be liable on conviction before a District Court to a fine not exceeding $2,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years. A person charged with an offence by reason of a section mentioned in this subsection may with the sanction of the Attorney-General be tried before a Magistrate’s Court, and such person shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000 and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months.
Note that the punishment is a fine and imprisonment. Not fine or imprisonment.
So the question now is…. Did 2LT Li commit the offence?
PS: I’m not going to post the email on my blog because I believe that it is a restricted item. My advice to everyone is, don’t post that email on your blog or forum. Even though the important names, items and locations are being censored from the email, it still reveal quite a lot of information.
You won’t want to be invited to some coffee session.