MP Lim Biow Chuan clarifies comments on former offender's job snub, calls for 'proper conversation'

MP Lim Biow Chuan said that the police must evaluate each application for a security licence on its own merit.
MP Lim Biow Chuan said that the police must evaluate each application for a security licence on its own merit.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - MP Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) has urged netizens to embrace "proper conversation and dialogue", as he clarified his position about a former offender who was turned down for a security officer's job because of his criminal past.

Singapore People's Party member Jose Raymond posted the plight of a Potong Pasir resident who was rejected by the Singapore Police Force because he was deemed "not a fit and proper person" for the role.

Mr Raymond posted the rejection letter on Facebook on June 7 and it went viral.

Mr Lim commented on it, noting that while it was easy to say that the SPF should give ex-offenders a second chance, the reality is that "most of us would err on the side of caution".

He noted, for example, that while some residents might be comfortable knowing that a security guard at their condominium was an ex-offender, others might not.

Mr Lim suggested the man could look for work in other sectors, like food and beverage.

On Sunday (June 10), Mr Lim wrote on Facebook that his suggestions had attracted "lots of adverse comments" after they were published in an article by The Online Citizen (TOC).

He wrote: "I don't reply to comments on TOC because many of those comments were meant to attack, humiliate and destroy. It is not the kind of conversation which helps to make Singapore a better country or to improve the system."

His original comments were repeated on another online publication, Mothership.sg, and he went on to clarify them on Sunday, saying that while society should help ex-offenders integrate back into society, there are certain offences where some jobs may not be suitable immediately after the offender's release.

"As an example, I quoted a situation where we would not want a convicted child molester to teach swimming to young children; we would also not want a person convicted of dishonesty to be involved in finances or accounts of a company," he said.

"Along the same principles, we would not want a person convicted of assault to be employed as a security officer protecting the residents."

He added that the police must evaluate each application for a security licence on its own merit. He wrote: "The concern of police would always be, what if the offender re-offends? What if the security officer could not manage his anger again and hurts someone badly? Someone whom they are supposed to protect? Would the public turn on the police and ask why did they allow a past offender with anger management issues get a security licence?"

Mr Lim also said a former offender's application should be considered if sufficient time has lapsed and they have shown they are unlikely to reoffend.

He ended his note with a call for respectful debates, saying: "With proper conversation and dialogue, we can improve policies.

"As an MP, I always look out for such cases so that I can ask the authorities to re-consider the facts. But cursing or deliberately insulting people whose opinion differs from your opinion is not good for the system."