Review whistle-blowing policy

Last year, I suggested that the civil service implement a servicewide whistle-blowing policy ("Spell out clear rules for civil servants"; Aug 1, 2013).

The Public Service Division replied that "there is a reporting framework in place where officers can report wrongful practices or behaviour they observe in the Service" ("Debt-hit officers are helped, not punished: PSD"; Aug 5, 2013).

However, it seems that the full-time national serviceman who filmed a video of a dog tied up in a military bathroom was either unaware of the reporting framework, or he may have doubts on the independence of the ombudsman ("NSF punished for video post"; yesterday).

If he had reported the incident to the ombudsman, he would likely not have been charged by the Ministry of Defence, as the ombudsman would not be considered a "third party" and would have been expected to protect official secrets.

Thus, it is time for the Public Service to review its whistle-blowing policy to promote non-malicious reporting of suspected wrongful practices. The ombudsman should come from the judiciary in order to maintain independence. And all civil servants should be educated on the role and duties of the ombudsman.

Colin Loh

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