SINGAPORE: A Housing and Development Board (HDB) officer was charged in court for sharing confidential information on a new initiative with a Straits Times reporter.
Ng Han Yuan, 25, was charged on Friday (Nov 10) with wrongfully communicating confidential information, an offence under the Official Secrets Act.
The police said in a news release that HDB made a police report on Jul 27, after it received media queries from a Straits Times reporter on the new HDB Resale Portal, which had not been made public at the time.
Police investigations found that Ng shared confidential information with the reporter, Ms Janice Tai, in May, and the reporter approached several parties in July with queries on the information.
The police have issued Ms Tai with a "stern warning" for her actions.
They declined to elaborate on the basis of the warning, or if Ms Tai had committed a chargeable offence, but Channel NewsAsia understands that she was warned for the offence of receiving confidential information under the Official Secrets Act.
“As the case is before the Court, it is inappropriate to comment further,” the police said in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia.
In a news release, the police said: "The Government takes a serious view of the wrongful communication of confidential information, especially if the party involved is a public officer, and will not hesitate to take action."
According to court documents, Ng was an estate manager from the resale operation section in HDB's estate administration and property division at the time of the offence.
Replying to Channel NewsAsia's query, HDB said Ng has since been suspended from his duties pending the outcome of the court case.
"We will assess the situation and take appropriate disciplinary action based on the outcome of the court proceedings," HDB said. "HDB takes a serious view of any unauthorised disclosure of information."
Ng said in court on Friday that he intends to plead guilty to the charge. He is expected to do so on Dec 15.
He faces a fine of up to S$2,000 and up to two years in jail.
Meanwhile, The Straits Times has thrown its support behind Ms Tai, saying that "she continues to be a valued member of the ST newsroom team".
“The Straits Times wants to place on record its support for our colleague Janice Tai, who was doing her job as a reporter for the paper," said Mr Warren Fernandez, Editor of The Straits Times and Editor-in-Chief of the English, Malay & Tamil Media Group.