Singaporean govt looks to intensify collaboration with Malaysia to combat online scams
SINGAPORE - With the number of online scam cases increasing and making headlines day by day, Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) says it wants to level up its cooperation with Malaysia to a greater extent to combat the crime.
Its minister Josephine Teo said the cooperation was a meaningful effort to ensure that people felt safe when they were online.
She said by working together, the authorities between Singapore and Malaysia would be able to exchange information and observe type of scams that were picking up so that they could look into ways to prevent it.
“We are observing the type of scams that are picking up, if we share it with our colleagues, and likewise, when they observe certain scam types picking up and also share it with us, then potentially, we can try and see how to prevent these scams from succeeding to an even larger extent.
“This is one type of collaboration, information exchange, exchange of what we are observing in our respective jurisdictions, I think that could be very helpful,” she said during a fireside chat with the Malaysian press in conjunction with the 15th Malaysian Journalists Visit Programme, here.
Apart from that, Teo said there could also potentially be a collaboration in terms of identifying the perpetrators of such scams as they (scammers) likely have partners supporting them elsewhere in the network.
These kind of exchanges, she said could potentially help both countries crack the scams better and be more effective in doing so.
“In a way we are operating in the light and they (scammers) are operating in the dark. So, we also cannot tell everything, then it makes it very ineffective,” she added.
Although there were already existing channels of cooperation between both countries to combat such crime, Teo said it should be intensified.
She also noted that scammers have no respect for national boundaries in their attempt to implement a scam tactic and that some of their modus operandi was also influenced by cultural factors.
“When scammers today try to implement a scam tactic, they don't only try it out in one country, one city, they try the same tactic across many jurisdictions.
“Whether a scam tactic works in one jurisdiction or another, one place or another, some of it is influenced by cultural factors.
“So a scam tactic that might work in Singapore, may well also work in Malaysia because culturally we have a lot of similarities.
“It preys on the same vulnerabilities in human psychology, for example, the fact that we're concerned about our CPF monies, (similar to Malaysia’s Employee’s Provident Fund monies) same kind of things. Now, you've got similar setups, right?,” she said.
Teo also shared about the memorandum of understanding (MoU) she recently signed with her Malaysian counterpart, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil, describing it as one of the areas of collaborations between Singapore and Malaysia that offered exciting opportunities.
The MoU, she said comprised three main areas of interest namely personal data protection, cybersecurity and on how both countries could advance in terms digital economy.
She said the nature of both countries’ economic development have reached a stage where digital was becoming very much a part and parcel of their economic activities, adding that there was no sector in the economy that has not been transformed by digital technologies.
“Some companies are trying very hard to take advantage of digital tools to improve productivity, to level up their innovation.
“Yet some other companies are still trying to cope with issues to do with whether they are putting in place enough data protection measures, and whether they are protecting the systems against cybersecurity threats. Those are the things that are happening,” she added.
On Jan 30, Malaysia and Singapore signed an MoU on cooperation in the field of personal data protection, cybersecurity and digital economy.
The MoU was signed by Fahmi and Teo and was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong at The Istana.
This was following the agreement by both countries in October 2018 to explore the cooperation in all three fields and the Communications and Digital Ministry had agreed to the proposal.
The process of updating and incorporating the field of cooperation in the MoU had since begun.