How many and what percentage of employees in the civil service are ex-offenders?

MP Lim Biow Chuan

I refer to the article “MP Lim Biow Chuan clarifies comments on former offender’s job snub, calls for ‘proper conversation’” (Straits Times, Jun 11).

It states that “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.

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,, 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?”

As to “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.

“As an MP, I always look out for such cases so that I can ask the authorities to re-consider the facts”” – how many and what percentage of ex-offenders have ever been given a second chance in regards to “former offender’s application should be considered if sufficient time has lapsed and they have shown they are unlikely to reoffend” and “the authorities to re-consider the facts”?

Singapore is arguably, one of the “least forgiving” societies in the world.

For example, how many and what percentage of employees in the civil service are ex-offenders?

What’s the point of members of government repeatedly calling for ex-offenders to be given a second chance, such as initiatives like the Yellow Ribbon Project, when it does not set the right example? What kind of message is it sending to employers in the private sector?

I understand that many employers may conduct the following four checks in considering whether to employ someone:-

… bankruptcy record (whether discharged or undischarged bankrupts)

… credit record history

… criminal record

… litigation record – whether one has ever been sued in one’s lifetime

If a person has ever been a bankrupt (discharged or undischarged), or was in a debt restructuring arrangement (scheme), he or she may invariably never be able to ever obtain any kind of loan (personal loan, housing loan (except from the HDB), car loan, education loan, renovation loan, etc) or credit (credit card, credit line, etc) in the future, for the rest of his or her life.


Leong Sze Hian



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12 Responses to “How many and what percentage of employees in the civil service are ex-offenders?”

  • John Richards:

    I think Lim’s argument is essentially, what happens if the ex-offender loses his temper as a security guard and beats up someone again. Well, whatever job the ex-offender takes on, the same thing might happen. Food and Beverage? We all know about fights that happen in those places. Taxi drivers? Oh yes, more fights. Bus drivers? Lots of fights there too. Shop assistants? Think Sim Lim.

    C’mon Lim, don’t be stupid. Nobody wants a sex offender teaching swimming either. But answer me this, Lim. If another MP were to accost your wife would you just keep quiet meekly? Well, looking at your face I suppose you would.

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  • Singapore Fooled Again n Again:

    I doubt many in civil services.

    These civil service recruiters, themselves paid so high with bonuses and all kind of perks, don’t think so they willing to take the risk to accept and employ these ex-offenders.

    If things go wrong, they will get the blame and maybe pink slip. Better employ others not complicated types

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  • do good do together:

    Wow!!! Mr Lim Biao Chuan should have been the better choice as Singapore’s president. He bothered to do a walkabout and visited our iconic wet markets. Kudos!

    Mr Tony Tan did it too when he was president. The image of him shaking hands with the fishmonger in the wet market was remarkable and praise worthy. So down to earth to shake the often wet and greasy hands of these stall holders.

    Halamah? The longtong seller, vegetable sellers, the bak cho mee seller and the butchers are waiting. Do good Do together.

    Busy Chinatown wet market will be a good choice.

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  • LIONS:

    Well,if we think of fake FTs working in govt agencies like LTA,i am sure crooks are aplenty.

    And who is lim bc?
    Isnt he also a * crook*?

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  • Not all in CS are happy!:

    If Singaporeans want change, they must vote them out, no point talking!

    Civil Servants are here to serve, under which gahment is quite irrelevant.

    We are the ones doing the leg work most of the time and we need change too!

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  • Act Like Adults:

    Seems like a case of letting the private sector absorb the ex-convicts.

    But spore employers can be ridiculous. Why do I have to justify what I do with my life to them? So what if there are gaps? Cannot take a break izit? I’m there to provide a service – if I have the necessary skills and experience – just hire. If you don’t think the employee is a good fit, can end contract amicably. There is no need to throw hissy fits, temper tantrums, give people black face everyday or create politics to make them leave. Act like grown ups, say nicely:”it’s not working out, we wish you the best.” And so not to make enemies. You’ll be so surprised lots of companies like to use the high handed arrogant way.

    Quite spot on, we are an unforgiving society and like to hold people’s mistakes against them. What do employers expect? Perfection? Like the Bible says – if you don’t forgive others for who trespass against you, the Lord will also not forgive you.

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  • pap whitewashed small island:

    one of us was 2nd class lower NUS. in the early 1980s, pushed from pillar to post from one pap department to another. because only 2nd upper or better can take in. so convict today can take in? cannot believe.

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  • HarderTruths:

    everyone who votes for the pappies is an offender.

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  • Dumb n Dumber:

    There reality of the truth in Singapore…

    The prisons division of business, ISCOS. Is one of the most profitable business model in the world. The hire the most cheapest worker’s in the world, its prisoners. Big corporations have given their plants and productions line to the prisons Dept. As they have been providing them with its cheapest workers to gather for themselves the highest profits. So do you really think the want change for these offenders. Think hard, very very hard. Till date the Changi prison complex have been expanding from block A to B now C n under construction is D n E. Till date only A n B is occupied, and the have been the strength for many of our daily consumptions and usages of our daily world outside. Type ISCOS in Google search and you will know more. With this understanding, do you think really really think they want to help change past offenders, rather still give them a chance. Please please think very very hard before you think it’s all Rosy in Sinkapore. When the leaders are commanding it’s citizens to steal other people lunches. What will they do when they can abused those confined in it’s Walls. This ex-offender wasted his time with the MP. Should have gone direct to cantoment plrd licenses divisions. Shared his plight and diligent officers on the ground will do background checks and assist the ex-offender to attained his clearance to be employable. Remember at every level you will find humanity. The powers at top as we know it’s not working towards our betterment we must work within the depts that have the power to say yes, I will help you cause they will find the reason why you deserve a chance. Again, the ex-offender must be sincere and honest and show cause and proof of his changes. MP’s are puppets. Govt organizations brushed them aside with a broom. Unless it’s from the PMO. So my advice is go knock on the door that you need help from. God bless…

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  • Dumb or Dumber:

    The reason why its been as such is cause in the past MPs have voiced concerned for brutally abused from law enforcement officers and thus the body camera (body cam) have been introduced and from then all govt depts have blocked all appeals from residents MPs. So the government will never look bad and all reports are swept under the rug. Well, I honestly have to thank this MP for going viral, kudos Mr MP, we need more of you individuals. Thou remember one man can do little n in Sinkapore means do nothing. And remember this, collectively, together and United, all of us can move mountains.
    God bless…

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  • Tremendous:

    Which school was LBC from ? Look for other jobs, (and he didn’t specify what) then he will say employers have to err on the side of caution not to buy food and beverages from stalls with ex offenders because we don’t know there are drugs or poison in them. The list goes on from his argument, in nurseries, ex offenders use cutters as weapons, etc. I am not saying that all ex offenders will turn over a new leaf, but this kind of MP response is closer to someone undeveloped.

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  • FEAR overrides everything:

    If TOC were rich and powerful, Lim would have been sued.
    This is the rule of law. No money no cork.

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