Singapore — Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has said it “may not be wise” to eliminate the criminal history of ex-offenders convicted of non-violent crimes for employment purposes.
Workers Party MP Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) asked in Parliament this week whether the Government would consider eliminating the criminal history of ex-offenders for non-violent crimes. This would be done, he wrote, for employment purposes after a period of proven good behaviour and successful reintegration into society.
Mr Shanmugam answered Dr Lim’s Feb 2 question via a written reply.
He asked Dr Lim to explain what he meant by “non-violent crimes” and added that the Government’s framework to rehabilitate and find employment for most offenders is a safe and transparent one.
Moreover, he added, this framework “is being constantly refined.”
Mr Shanmugam noted in his reply that there are many serious offences that are not violent, including sexual grooming and outrage of modesty.
He wrote, “The Member may wish to note that his suggestion, prima facie, appears to be that records of such crimes should be expunged, which will in turn mean that ex-offenders could be employed in roles such as pre-school teachers or security officers, without their employers being aware of their history.”
The minister followed this up with a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon (Feb 4). “Such an approach may not be wise,” he wrote, as it carries a certain degree of risk.
Mr Shanmugam referred to the recent case of a 29-year-old tutor charged with molesting a three-year-old girl in class in 2018.
The man pleaded guilty on Feb 1.
The minister wrote, “If the MP’s suggestion is taken up, it means that this man can continue to work with children without employers being informed of his record. Would Singaporean parents be comfortable with this?”
While he agreed that ex-offenders need to be given second chances, the minister asserted that it should be “done in a transparent manner.”
He also added a link to the Government’s Yellow Ribbon Project, which Dr Lim had also referred to in his question.
The Sengkang GRC MP had asked whether the Government will consider expanding the coverage of the project, which aims to rebuild the “lives of ex-offenders by helping them enhance their employability potential.”
In his written reply to Dr Lim, Mr Shanmugam wrote, “The Member can make a more detailed suggestion, if he wishes, and the Government will consider his suggestions.”
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