Photo of Ng Eng Hen from Straits Times Mark Cheong

Speaking at an award ceremony held by the Singapore Armed Force, Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday (June 30) put out a bogeyman and said that his government is now on “someone’s list”:

“Cyberattacks are a growing threat around the world and Singapore is on a target list. Singapore has now found itself on someone’s list. The attacks are orchestrated, the attacks are targeted. They want to steal specific information, and there are minds behind this orchestration.”

The Defence Minister did not reveal what the list was about or which organisation made the list. However his speech coincides with Law Minister K Shanmugam, who earlier claimed that websites like States Times Review are run by foreign operatives to undermine the incumbent government.

In 2013, two Singaporeans – a businessman and an ITE student – were arrested for hacking a government website. Prior to their arrest, the government speculated that foreign hackers were behind the attack. Similarly, States Times Review is a current affairs news site set up by a Singaporean based in Australia, and not “state-sanctioned” as the ruling party government claimed.  Due to the lack of freedom in Singapore, many Singaporeans have resorted to vandalism and hacking to express their protest against the ruling party dictatorship under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

There has been an increase the number of cyberattacks on the government’s network after the 2013 arrests but the Singapore government is incapable of identifying the perpetrators. As the government lack cyber security expertise, PM Lee Hsien Loong issued an internet ban and disconnected the entire Civil Service from the internet in 2016.