Singapore’s Prime Minister has been working on two separate terminals – one with internet access and the other without – since the start of the year, he has said.
He was the first “volunteer” to trial the new internet policy to have a second device for civil servants to surf the web.
He saves important links as PDFs and sends them to his work email; from there, he can then share them with his colleagues through the government intranet. “It’s a nuisance, it takes some getting used to, but you can do it”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Officers who need to surf the internet and “track what’s happening in the world”, such as the Ministry of Communications and Information, will have a separate device to do so. “They’ll have two computers and they’ll have to work like that,” he said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Defence already work in this way, he added. School teachers and university lecturers will not be affected by the move.
“We’ve decided to do it. Are we happy? I don’t think so because it will slow us down in terms of day to day productivity. But in terms of security, safety of our system, safety of our citizens and information concerning them, it’s absolutely necessary”, he explained.
He decided to take the new approach after security experts advised that it was necessary to protect the government’s IT system, the Straits Times reported.
The government’s computer systems have experienced attacks, but so far the “damage which has been done or the information which has been stolen has not been disastrous”, he said. However, “we cannot be sure that that will not happen”.
“We [have] got to find the right balance and we’ve got to calibrate that balance as we go along”, he said.
Government e-services will not be affected and public servants will still be able to respond to queries from citizens, assured David Koh, Chief Executive of Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency.