Some job curbs on ex-offenders to protect public interest: MHA

Different government agencies impose restrictions on ex-offenders for some jobs "to protect the interests of the public", said a spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

In a letter to The Straits Times Forum, MHA director of media relations Sunny Lee said a person with a criminal record is required to remain offence-free for some time before he can take up certain jobs, depending on the severity and relevance of the offence. Mr Lee was responding to an ST article on remarks that Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan made on Facebook about hiring ex-offenders.

The MP had commented on a June 7 Facebook post by Singapore People's Party member Jose Raymond, who highlighted how a Potong Pasir resident was rejected for the job of a security officer as he was deemed not "fit and proper" in lieu of his past conviction.

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

For example, some residents might be comfortable knowing a security guard at their condominium was an ex-offender, but others might not, he said, suggesting the man could look for work in other sectors, like food and beverage.

In a subsequent post on June 10, Mr Lim said his initial comments had attracted many adverse comments after they were published in an online article by socio-political site The Online Citizen.

He urged netizens to embrace "proper conversation and dialogue", and said that while society generally tries to help ex-offenders reintegrate, there are certain offences where some jobs may not be suitable immediately after the offender's release.

  • 97%

    Percentage of the 2,201 inmates helped by Score last year who secured jobs before their release.

In his letter yesterday, MHA's Mr Lee said ex-offenders who have committed crimes such as robbery, housebreaking and voluntarily causing grievous hurt, are required to remain crime-free for some time before they can take up certain jobs, including that of a security officer.

In the Potong Pasir resident's case, "the nature of his offence is such that he is restricted from being a security officer at this point in time", said Mr Lee, without elaborating on how long the restriction would last.

He added that the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) has been in touch with the resident to help him find a job in other industries.

Mr Lee said Score has partnered more than 5,000 employers to provide jobs for ex-offenders, in industries such as food and beverage, hospitality, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, and logistics.

Last year, 97 per cent of the 2,201 inmates who were helped by Score for job placements successfully secured a job before their release, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2018, with the headline 'Some job curbs on ex-offenders to protect public interest: MHA'. Print Edition | Subscribe