On Nov 10, a HDB officer was charged under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for giving confidential information to a Straits Times reporter Janice Tai. 25-year-old Ng Han Yuan had given information relating to an HDB project titled Streamlining of Resale Transactions. HDB made a police report after it received media queries about the HDB Resale Portal, which had not been made public yet.
So apparently the reporter was given a stern warning by the police. And this is where it gets interesting. In the Straits Times report, its editor Warren Fernandez was quoted as saying, “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. She continues to be a valued member of the ST newsroom team.”
Quite contradictory leh. On one hand, mata says that the reporter deserves a warning. On the other hand, her employer says that she was just doing her job. So which is which?
The media community is obviously not happy about this because they think OSA is being used too liberally and they will never be able to write a report that doesn’t come from a press release. Ex-editors like Bertha Henson and Alan John have posted on this issue.
Maybe the HDB guy shared the info in confidence with the reporter. But she was probably so eager to get a scoop that she was willing to jeopardise her source. Want a promotion is it? I think if the info was meant to be confidential because in this case it was market-sensitive, potentially affecting the property market, then the reporter had no right to pursue it.
Reporters will still get their scoop, regardless of OSA. If your source tells you not to report what he or she is telling you because your source will get into trouble, jolly well don’t report it lah. That’s how a reporter-source relationship works. Don’t throw your source under the bus just because you want that scoop.
Like that everyone also get into trouble very good meh.