Punggol Field murder suspect didn't download TraceTogether app on phone, police couldn't come by any data

This was before the TraceTogether token was distributed.

Belmont Lay | February 03, 2021, 04:25 AM

The Punggol Field murder in May 2020 was the one and only case that led the Singapore police to acquire access to TraceTogether data after asking for the information as part of their investigations.

This revelation of the exact case was made on Feb. 2, 2021 by The Straits Times, a detail that until this point had not been disclosed publicly by the authorities.

ST did not cite a source for this information, as it only reported that it understands this was the high-profile case involved.

But this murder case was the only high-profile, serious crime that occurred in May 2020 at that time.

Parliament debate: Opposition MPs asked about police access

These disclosures stemmed from a debate in Parliament earlier on Tuesday.

In response to questions by Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai, Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan provided an oral reply pertaining to police use of TraceTogether data.

The opposition MPs had questioned about when the police first accessed TraceTogether data, and its use.

No data available

In response, Tan revealed that the police had asked for TraceTogether data in May 2020 in line with their powers under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

However, investigators were unable to obtain any useful data despite having access.

Tan also said this case was the only time up till now that the police have requested for TraceTogether data.

ST reported that data is believed to have been taken from the victim's phone.

Tan said in Parliament that the app was not downloaded on the suspect’s phone.

The TraceTogether token was not yet launched then.

About the Punggol Field murder

A 38-year-old man, Tay Rui Hao, was stabbed near a bus stop in Punggol Field Road on May 10, 2020, at about 11.10pm while out jogging.

The incident rattled residents of the quiet northeastern neighbourhood at that time.

Surajsrikan Diwakar Mani Tripathi, 20, was subsequently charged on May 17 with Tay's murder.

The accused was also brought back to the scene of the crime.

The case is before the courts.


A public outcry ensued after Tan revealed in Parliament in January 2021 that the Singapore police has the ability to obtain TraceTogether data for criminal investigations.

Parliament reconvened for the February session with MPs debating on amendments to the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures)(Amendment) Bill to restrict police's use of TraceTogether data to seven categories of serious crimes, including murder and terrorism offences.

The change to the law was introduced on a certificate of urgency following the public backlash and was approved by Parliament on Tuesday.

Top photos via WhatsApp & Vivian Balakrishnan Facebook