Forum letter reply - Only malicious complainants will be taken to task: CPIB
We thank Mr Francis Cheng for his letter “CPIB rules of reporting may frighten away whistleblowers” (April 7). The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) appreciates all feedback and works with the public to safeguard Singapore’s integrity.
With regard to his feedback that our website message may deter informers from reporting suspected corruption, we take this opportunity to clarify the relevant provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).
There are provisions that safeguard the identity of informers whose information lead to the investigation and prosecution of any offences under the Act. The PCA also guards against malicious complaints whereby the complainant can be prosecuted for knowingly giving or causing to be given any false or misleading information to the CPIB. These incidents, however, are few.
On the other hand, a complainant who had provided information that was verified subsequently to be inaccurate, but had done so with no malicious intent, would not be taken to task.
Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance approach towards corruption. The CPIB takes a serious view of all complaints or information that may disclose any offence under the PCA, and continues to combat corruption through swift and sure, firm but fair action.
All complaints, including anonymous ones, will be evaluated carefully to ascertain whether a criminal investigation under the Act is warranted.
The CPIB strongly encourages members of the public to report suspected graft. Based on our experience last year, complaints lodged in person are three times more likely to result in investigation compared with the most popular mode of letters or fax.
Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau
Forum Letter - CPIB rules of reporting may frighten away whistle-blowers (TODAY, 7 April 2015)
To encourage more people to report corruption, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) could revamp its rules of reporting. (“Corruption complaints at 30-year low: CPIB”; April 3)
When people report a suspicious case, they do so with an understanding that there is no guarantee of the facts.
However, the warning on the CPIB website that it is an offence to knowingly give or cause to be given any false or misleading information to the CPIB, punishable by imprisonment of up to 12 months or a maximum fine of S$10,000, may frighten away whistle-blowers. How would whistle-blowers know that their information about a perceived case of corruption is false or misleading?
Fighting corruption involves law enforcement, public participation and transparency mechanisms such as information disclosure. It was duly reported that complaints lodged in person were more likely to result in investigation than an email or fax complaint.
Regardless, all forms of complaints should be given equal weight, and the CPIB explained how it deals with corruption complaints. Nothing was mentioned about the reporting process, though.
Would-be complainants surely want to know how it is done and the degree of confidentiality. They must feel assured that the CPIB would not hold them responsible if their information unwittingly turns out to be wrong, or that they can remain anonymous.
To empower citizens to fight corruption, both the top-down approach — developing institutions and naturalising norms that target public administrative graft — and the bottomup approach, which is to mobilise ordinary citizens, are necessary.
More important than encouraging people to come forward, however, is to ensure integrity in the system functions well, and all share a common set of characteristics that correlates typically to lower levels of corruption.
Francis Cheng Choon Fei