Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that government computers will be put offline

Singapore's government employees offline due to cyber-attacks

Singapore is taking what seems to be a step backwards as it decides to shut down Internet access for government employees despite pledging to become a high-tech nation.

The move, announced by the city state’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, follows what has been described as a series of ‘very sophisticated’ cyber-attacks.

Starting in May next year, 100,000 work computers of government employees will be cut off from the world wide web with only dedicated machines available for browsing. However, workers will be permitted to keep their private devices connected.

"In terms of the safety and security of our systems, the safety of our citizens and the information concerning them, it's absolutely necessary," said Lee.

"It's not to do with being liberal or not being liberal. It's about being safe and secure and doing what is necessary."

In recent years, Singapore has struggled to combat cyber-criminals, who have committed offences including stealing client data from Standard Chartered Bank and hacking the official website of Lee himself.

Talking to the local Business Times newspaper, Lee, who is known as a keen Facebook user, acknowledged that the move will affect productivity and slow down work.

Critics say the move runs counter to the government's push to become a smart nation - a programme designed to transform the wealthy city state into a high-tech society.

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