Did MBT in leaking his decision to Mr E Low breech the code of the Official Secrets Act Cap.213?
Town Council Act (CAP 329A) states clearly that Govt must work with Town Councils (run by MPs) to implement Lift Upgrading Prog (LUP). [The Temasek Review October 29th, 2009]
I believe that whilst the Minister (MBT) committed no incursion against Sect24B, Town Council Act (Cap.329A),
as according statute he is only required to "by order published in the
Gazette, declare any housing estate of the Board ... to be a precinct
...carrying out any lift upgrading works in buildings..."
The issue of concern however involves the question of whether the said Minister 'leaked confidential govt data' of his decision to benefit his friend Mr Eric Low prior to the officially embargoed release timing of such government announcement in The Gazette.
If so, the leak of such 'government data' to 'interested but unqualified 3rd parties' due to the 3rd parties having 'personal relations' with political title holders ought not be condoned as that would indicate the lack of integrity of political office bearers in safeguarding official secret government information.
If this is so proven, then the best thing for the official concerned to do is to resign as a sign of remorse having leaked sensitive information that should have been embargoed till release at a stated time through the proper government channel of the 'Gazette'.
How could Mr MBT assume that he had the authority to release such info to Mr E Low?
That said, I find Mr MBT's decision to name Mr Eric Low as Hougang constituency's 'grassroots adviser' most petty, unconstitutional, a betrayal to the interest of Hougang residents and a behavior unbecoming of a Cabinet Minister.
This is because section 24B, C (excerpts) of the Town Council Act (Cap.329A) states that:
|Declaration of precincts
24B. —(1) The Minister may, after consulting the Board and the Town Council concerned, from time to time by order published in the Gazette, declare any housing estate of the Board or any part thereof within that Town Council’s Town to be a precinct for the purposes of the Town Council carrying out any lift upgrading works in buildings within the precinct.
Lift upgrading works in a precinct
24C.—(1) Where any housing estate of the Board or any part thereof within a Town has been declared a precinct under section 24B, the Town Council for that Town shall, as soon as practicable —
(a) make arrangements to conduct in the manner prescribed a poll of such owners of the flats within the precinct as may be prescribed with a view to establishing their opinions about the Town Council’s proposals to carry out lift upgrading works in buildings within the precinct; and (b) do such other things as the Minister may direct.
As clear as crystal is the fact that by statute, Mr MBT in
arriving at his decision about an LUP award, would have considered
primarily the input the Board(HDB) and the relevant Town Council, the
latter of which Mr Low TK is , by statute, Chairman. Any accessory
contribution from Mr E Low would have remained just as accessory as Mr E
Low remains- the loosing candidate in GE2006.
By law, Mr MBT's leak to Mr E Low simply ends at Mr E Low making the announcement of the LUP: something of little consequence except to tell us that Mr MBT is a good friend of Mr E Low, to whom he leaks important govt data abt 'LUP', such that by possibly making a preempted announcement of the upgrading notice as should ordinarily appear in the 'Gazette', Mr E Low might usurp the authority of the incumbent MP of Hougang constituency- a rather unethical and unprofessional act considering that such information should have been embargoed for official released in the govt 'Gazette' and ought to be, like so is the case in PAP led constituencies, the purview of the relevant Town Council Chairman to disclose to his constituency.
Perhaps Minister MBT might have misinterpreted the statutes of the Town Council Act (Cap.329A)? As such, Mr MBT's explanation probably holds no water and in fact, might be in contravention of the Official Secrets Act Cap 213.
Could Mr E Low still be involved with the LUP?
Mr Low's involvement with Hougang's LUP however, should end just as quickly as it began. In not operating through the Hougang Town Council but in suspicious rivalry with, Mr E Low seems only intent on obfuscating the proper procedure by which LUP must be conducted- that is, under the chairmanship and direction of elected constituency/ town council MP Mr Low Thia Kiang (the statutorily designated person/ organisation), who/which would statutorily conduct and complete the requirements under section 24C of the Town Council Act (Cap.329A) (polls, commencement of construction etc). Leaving Mr E Low little to do except to now officially offer to assist at this juncture.
By this discourse, Mr MBT has 'unwittingly' sewn confusion and dissent amongst the residents of Hougang constituency as to whom the town council is and should be- an act most unbecoming of a Cabinet Minister and most destructive to the sense of community, dignity and democracy amongst the residents of Hougang constituency or any other constituency in Singapore for that matter.
On a related note, Mr MBT is also very wrong to compare the LUP with "other government programmes such as the building of roads and schools", this is because
sake of government integrity, someone should investigate the presence
and significance of this leak of confidential information to interested
but unqualified 3rd persons such as Mr Eric Low who opportunistically
attempted to capitalize on this leak of government data by way of
possibly making a premature disclosure which ordinarily would have been
revealed through the government Gazette.
For the sake of the integrity of the executive, someone please investigate if any rules have been contravened this probably premature disclosure of a Ministerial decision in a manner contrary to the usual procedure of publication in the government Gazette.
- 'A rebuttal to MND: Why Mah Bow Tan is wrong on upgrading': [TR, 14Oct2009]
- '‘Adviser over MP’ raises many questions': "PAP MPs are appointed as advisers to the grassroots organisations in their wards by the People’s Association (PA). In the two opposition wards, the PA picked the PAP candidates who contested but lost in the wards in the last two polls as the grassroots advisers." [ST22Oct2009(hosted by TR website)]
- 'Don't attempt a "WikiLeaks" here': "SINGAPORE: Authorities in Singapore will take a firm stand against any leaks in official government documents. The Home Affairs Ministry made this clear in Parliament on Monday in response to questions on the impact of WikiLeaks on Singapore. " [CNA: 10 Jan2011]
- "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."-- Benjamin Franklin