Forum: Whistle-blower programme will improve corporate governance

The United States' whistle-blower programme has proven to be a powerful and effective check and balance against those in power.

Singapore should consider adopting a similar programme to ensure higher standards of corporate governance and management of government and public service contracts.

However, the whistle-blowing committee should be helmed by people with no political affiliations if it is to be effective and useful.

And to guard against political bias, Nominated MPs (NMPs) could co-chair the committee and serve as ranking members.

NMPs would play a more active and meaningful role.

Members of the public who want to report any wrongdoing can do so without fear of reprisal.

Their identities would be kept confidential and they would be updated on the status of their reports.

So many more can be expected to step forward to report wrongdoings.

Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and Commercial Affairs Department have proven track records tackling fraud, corruption and commercial crimes.

Many of the cases have been from people who reported the crimes anonymously.

Whistle-blowing should not be limited to addressing fraud, corruption and commercial crimes, but also include reporting on public servants who fail to perform their duties, incompetence, systemic weaknesses and even fraternisation, among other things.

Whistle-blowing should not be limited to addressing fraud, corruption and commercial crimes, but also include reporting on public servants who fail to perform their duties, incompetence, systemic weaknesses... among other things.

There are many cases of public servants' failure to properly administer and manage government contracts.

The Government's annual audits have proven this to be true time and again.

And there are only so many audits that can be done each year.

A whistle-blower programme would not only complement current audits, but also provide clear, effective and more targeted audit exercises on problem areas.

Tony Lim Thiam Poh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2020, with the headline 'Whistle-blower programme will improve corporate governance'. Print Edition | Subscribe