“The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) takes a firm stance against workplace discrimination. All allegations of such nature are treated seriously and investigated. If we find wrongdoing, the culpable officers will be taken to task, regardless of seniority.”
This was said by the Minister for Home Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam, in a written reply on Monday (18 Sep) to parliamentary questions filed by Members of Parliament, Mr Murali Pillai of Bukit Batok SMC and Ms Sylvia Lim of Aljunied GRC, who sought clarity on the avenues available for officers to voice their concerns about discrimination or unfair treatment.
Elaborating on the complaint mechanism, he continued, “There are established channels for officers to raise grievances or report wrongdoing, namely the Channel for Formal Grievance Handling and the Channel for Confidential Ethical Disclosure.”
“All MHA officers can confidentially report grievances, workplace discrimination, and any issues relating to inappropriate conduct or behaviour to any level of management directly. This includes their direct supervisor, unit Commander or Director, and senior leadership of their Home Team Department and the Ministry headquarters.”
Mr Shanmugam also emphasized the transparency and thoroughness of the system, saying, “There are clear escalation guidelines and processes to ensure that all reports of workplace discrimination, unfair treatment, or misconduct are looked into objectively, professionally, and expeditiously.”
He further elaborated on the investigative process, mentioning the involvement of the Department’s Human Resource Division or an internal investigation body.
Mr Shanmugam also noted that the review findings will be reported to the Deputy Head of Department and the Head of Department. Where substantiated, appropriate action will be taken in accordance with the Civil Service Disciplinary Framework.
He added that if an officer is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, they can escalate the matter to higher levels in the chain of command in the Ministry or to the Head of Civil Service.
According to the Minister, all officers are informed of these reporting channels when they join MHA, during onboarding sessions for new officers, and during subsequent training programmes.
There are also periodic reminders through internal communications such as emails and at dialogues and forums with management. This information is also available on the Ministry’s intranet.
MHA conducts six-monthly Pulse Surveys, biennial Public Service Employee Engagement Surveys, and triennial 360 Degree Surveys of supervisors.
During these surveys, officers can provide anonymous comments and feedback, including on workplace issues. Every piece of feedback is taken seriously and investigated where necessary.
The Minister noted that in the last five years, the Home Team Departments and Ministry headquarters have investigated 310 cases, nine of which were reported directly to the Public Service Division and Ministry headquarters.
131 cases were substantiated, and the offending officers faced disciplinary actions.
However, the Minister cautioned, “We encourage responsible reporting. We must avoid developing a culture of spurious, poison-letter allegations, which can demoralise the broader officer population and create a toxic environment. If a report is made in bad faith, disciplinary action may be taken against the officer who made the false report.”
In July this year, Singapore was shocked by the tragic death of Sgt. Uvaraja S/0 Gopal from the Singapore Police Force (SPF) after he took his own life, raising serious questions regarding the welfare and treatment of Home Team officers.
Following Sgt. Uvaraja’s tragic death, his distressing narrative on Facebook emerged, depicting a harrowing work environment characterized by racial prejudice, favouritism, bullying, and blatant mismanagement at the Ang Mo Kio North Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC).
Mr Shanmugam has previously weighed in on the situation stating, “I have asked SPF to investigate the matter thoroughly. We will get to the bottom of it. And be accountable. We have a clear policy of non-discrimination.”
“All officers are entitled to be treated fairly. SPF as an organisation is committed to that principle. We will investigate the facts.” said the Home Affairs Minister.
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