The Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”), Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) and Ministry of Defence (“MINDEF”) are aware of three podcast episodes (#614, #615, #616) by Plan B on Spotify, in which James Raj Arokiasamy (“James Raj”) had made several false statements. Some of these false statements were also reproduced on Plan B’s Instagram on 7 Sep 2023.
James Raj was a hacker who went by the pseudonym “The Messiah” and who claimed to be part of the hacktivist group, “Anonymous”. He was behind a number of hacking incidents in late 2013. The following summarises James Raj’s history of brushes with the law, and how it relates to the falsehoods in the next section of this article:
Falsehoods and Facts
The Spotify podcast episodes and the related videos on Instagram falsely state the following:
#1 Falsehood: The Singapore authorities did not press charges against James Raj out of fear of retaliation.
Fact: On 29 Nov 2021, James Raj was involved in a dispute at a shop with another customer who was drunk and shouting at the shop assistant. James Raj was assaulted in the process and suffered a nasal fracture. A scuffle ensued, and subsequently James Raj kicked the subject. James Raj was only issued a stern warning, in lieu of prosecution, for the following reasons:
It was not due to fear of retaliation as James Raj had claimed. The Police are fair and balanced in dealing with cases, even if the protagonist has criminal antecedents. If James Raj’s involvement had been more egregious, he would have been charged and prosecuted in court.
#2 Falsehood: For the period of two to three years when he was in remand, James Raj was isolated and deprived of human interaction (except with his warden).
Fact: James Raj’s description of his time in remand is entirely baseless. James Raj was housed with other inmates during his remand period, save for one occasion when he was housed in an isolation cell between 28 and 30 Mar 2014 for having committed prison disciplinary offences. During his remand period, he received regular visits from his family members such as his mother and sister, and corresponded with them via letters. He saw his lawyers in prison on at least 12 occasions.
#3 Falsehood: James Raj was arrested and imprisoned for protesting the regulation of Internet censorship.
Fact: James Raj was wanted by Singaporean authorities for absconding from bail after he was arrested for drug offences. He was subsequently arrested in Malaysia for the drug offences, and repatriated to Singapore.
He was not, as he now claims, arrested for protesting the regulation of Internet censorship. Subsequently, he was charged for the drug offences and then-CMCA offences.
#4 Falsehood: The Government offered James Raj a plea deal where he would plead guilty to 39 charges instead of proceeding to trial on over 400 charges in order to cover up the fact that he was able to hack into the systems of many government agencies.
Fact: James Raj was not served with 400+ charges. He was served a total of 161 charges (158 charges under then-CMCA and three charges under the MDA) and signed all 161 charge sheets. The 161 charges were not amalgamated.
The Prosecution proceeded on 40 charges, of which 39 charges were under then-CMCA and one charge under the MDA. The remaining charges were taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing. This approach is consistent with the Prosecution’s practice of proceeding on only a proportion of the charges, should an accused person elect to plead guilty instead of claiming trial. This avoids expending judicial resources unnecessarily.
The systems which James Raj managed to hack into were disclosed publicly in the charges and Statement of Facts to which James Raj had pleaded guilty.
#5 Falsehood: James Raj had hacked into Singapore Land Authority’s (“SLA”) systems in 2013.
Fact: There is no evidence of any breach into SLA’s systems by James Raj. Investigations established that James Raj had scanned SLA’s servers for vulnerabilities but he did not hack, successfully or otherwise, into SLA’s systems. This is consistent with admissions from James Raj himself.
#6 Falsehood: James Raj had hacked into MINDEF’s systems.
Fact: The Spotify podcast episode #614, and its related Instagram Posts featured James Raj making the statement that he had hacked into MINDEF systems. MINDEF’s cyber and security agencies confirm that MINDEF’s systems have never been breached by James Raj.
POFMA Correction Direction
The Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Law has instructed for a Correction Direction, under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, to be issued to Plan B, which requires Plan B to insert a notice against each original post, with a link to the Government’s clarification.
We advise members of the public not to speculate and/or spread unverified rumours. The Government takes a serious view of the deliberate communication of malicious falsehoods.
James Raj committed acts of computer misuse between Mar and Nov 2013 while on the run in Malaysia. When he was arrested, his activities were fully investigated leading to a total of 161 charges. It was not a case of allowing himself to be caught as he has suggested in the podcast. He was eventually dealt with in accordance with the law for his crimes.
MHA is aware that James Raj had posted several videos on TikTok which contained additional falsehoods and allegations against the Singapore Police Force (“SPF”) and Singapore Prison Service (“SPS”). They are untrue and we understand that TikTok has banned James Raj’s TikTok account, @jamesmessiah, and the videos are no longer accessible. On claims by James Raj that he was beaten up when arrested, MHA notes that James Raj had lodged a Police report on 5 Nov 2013 about the manner of his arrest the day before in Malaysia, and he had claimed to have been assaulted by the Royal Malaysian Police (“RMP”). Based on the statements of the eight SPF and Central Narcotics Bureau (“CNB”) officers involved in his arrest, none had witnessed any occurrence of mistreatment or assault by RMP officers.
SPF and SPS officers did not assault him nor deny him any medical treatment when he was in custody or in prison. James Raj was treated professionally and fairly, no different from other accused persons or inmates.
Separately, MINDEF had issued a statement on 11 Sep 2023 which clarified that MINDEF’s systems were neither hacked nor compromised as claimed by James Raj. Please click here for the full statement. MINDEF is aware that James Raj has posted several videos on Instagram from 12 to 13 Sep 2023, which contained additional falsehoods related to his claim that he had hacked into MINDEF’s systems. They are untrue.