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Sylvia Lim's phone not hacked by state agencies: Shanmugam

Sylvia Lim's phone not hacked by state agencies: Shanmugam

Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam and Workers' Party chair Sylvia Lim in Parliament on Friday (Feb 18).

SINGAPORE: The mobile phone of Workers' Party chair Sylvia Lim has not been hacked by Singapore state agencies, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in Parliament on Friday (Feb 18). 

He was responding to Ms Lim's request for confirmation that her phone has not been hacked by Singapore's state agencies, after stating that she received a threat warning from Apple that her iPhone could be under threat of hacking by state-sponsored attackers.

Earlier in Parliament, Ms Lim brought up the threat warning after Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan mentioned that reliance on technology is required for national security reasons, and wanted to know if she should have "absolutely no concerns" that Singapore's state agencies were trying to hack into her phone. 

She added that Apple said this threat of hacking was "likely to be so because of who I am individually or what I do". 

COME TO MHA, RATHER THAN "PUBLICISE" IN PARLIAMENT

In the time since Ms Lim raised her concerns in Parliament, Mr Shanmugam said he checked with the Security and Intelligence Division and was speaking on behalf of agencies under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). 

"Now, 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 (MHA). We will do a thorough investigation," said Mr Shanmugam.

"If you raise it in Parliament, then we must assume the intention is to publicise the fact rather than actually get to the bottom of it, and it's obvious then why it is made public."

Mr Shanmugam noted that he would like to see the precise notification from Apple, and wondered if it was a general notification sent to a number of people or a specific notification sent to Ms Lim's phone. 

"(MHA) will be very interested because ... this is something that we are extremely concerned about. She is a Member of Parliament (MP). All (MPs) are potential targets and we would like to know, and we would like to get to the bottom of it, as to who is trying to get into her phone," he said. 

MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT "HIGH VALUE TARGETS"

Despite confirming that Ms Lim's phone has not been hacked by Government agencies, Mr Shanmugam stated that it is "normal practice that we do not confirm or deny" because MPs have "no immunity in this sense".

"MPs are high value targets for foreign agencies as our own experience and the experience of other countries have shown ... and it is the duty of our security agencies to be aware of whether MPs, or ministers, or senior civil servants, or those around them, or their families are being approached.

"And it is in the interest of Singapore and security of Singapore that state agencies are on top of the game," he said. 

"So I do not intend in future to confirm or deny, but ... I think in the context of the question having been asked, I decided that we will answer this question."

Source: CNA/gy(ta)

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