AGO report

Majority of lapses not criminal in nature, internal discipline taken

We refer to Mr Tan Soon Hock's letter (Public sector bodies must do more to clean up their act; Aug 1).

The heads of agencies review every case highlighted in the Auditor-General's (AG) Report and take the appropriate measures to address the findings, with particular attention to recurrent issues.

The vast majority of the lapses reported by the AG's Office over the years are not criminal in nature and do not warrant being brought to court. Most are administrative or procedural lapses, brought about mainly by a lack of awareness, carelessness or poor supervision.

In such cases, where appropriate, internal disciplinary actions are taken against officers found responsible.

However, in the event that there are suggestions of corruption, fraud or other criminal wrongdoing, these will be referred for police investigation.

If there is sufficient evidence against the officer, he/she will be charged in court.

If found guilty, the officer faces the full measure of the law.

The case of the former Republic of Singapore Air Force engineer highlighted by Mr Tan was detected through the Ministry of Defence's internal audit, and was surfaced to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau for investigation.

Improving the financial governance of public agencies is an ongoing effort. Given the size of the public service, human error and lapses occur from time to time.

When these occur, the Government addresses them openly and honestly, learns from them, and does its best to avoid recurrence.

In seeking to improve, we must continue to strike a sensible balance between strengthening controls and maintaining efficiency in providing services to Singaporeans.

Otherwise, our processes will be bogged down by ever-tightening rules and controls, which can ultimately affect the delivery of public services.

Lim Yuin Chien

Director (Corporate Communications)

Ministry of Finance

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2018, with the headline 'Majority of lapses not criminal in nature, internal discipline taken'. Print Edition | Subscribe