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Shanmugam rejects idea by WP’s Jamus Lim to expunge records of ex-offenders’ non-violent crimes for employment purposes

Shanmugam rejects idea by WP’s Jamus Lim to expunge records of ex-offenders’ non-violent crimes for employment purposes

Source: TODAY
Article Date: 05 Feb 2021
Author: Asyraf Kamil

He said in his Facebook post there are many offences that are serious but “may not necessarily involve physical violence”.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has rejected a suggestion by Member of Parliament (MP) Jamus Lim that the criminal records of ex-offenders convicted of non-violent crimes could be removed “for employment purposes”.

Writing in a Facebook post on Thursday (Feb 4), Mr Shanmugam said that the Government’s approach to helping ex-offenders is through rehabilitation and helping them find jobs, and that this is done in a “transparent manner”. 

In a parliamentary question on Tuesday, Dr Lim from the Workers' Party, who is MP for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency, asked whether the Government would expand the Yellow Ribbon project so that ex-offenders of non-violent crimes — “upon an extended period of good behaviour following successful reintegration in society” — could be eligible for the “elimination of the criminal history” from public records.

This would mean that they would not have to report the record when looking for a job.

In his post on Thursday, Mr Shanmugam said that there are many offences that are serious but “may not necessarily involve physical violence”.

These include sexual grooming, outrage of modesty, criminal breach of trust as well as theft in dwelling, he said.

Mr Shanmugam highlighted the recent case of British citizen Richard Christopher Monks, who on Monday pleaded guilty to one count of molesting a minor under 14. 

The 29-year-old educator was working as a reading specialist at a language training and literacy centre here when he repeatedly molested a three-year-old girl in 2018.

“If (Dr Lim’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?” Mr Shanmugam asked.

He added: “It also means, for example, that an offender convicted of housebreaking could be employed as a security officer in a condominium, without his employers knowing of his record. Such an approach may not be wise.”

Mr Shanmugam stressed that the Government’s approach is to help offenders rehabilitate and then find jobs.“They have to be given second chances. But this is done in a transparent manner,” he said.

In his written reply to Dr Lim’s suggestion on Tuesday, Mr Shanmugam had asked the opposition MP to clarify what he had meant when he mentioned “non-violent crime”. 

“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 preschool teachers or security officers, without their employers being aware of their history,” Mr Shanmugam stated then, adding that the Government's framework to rehabilitate and find employment for most offenders "is being constantly refined".

“The member can make a more detailed suggestion, if he wishes, and the Government will consider his suggestions,” Mr Shanmugam said then.

TODAY has sought comment from Dr Lim and the Workers’ Party.

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