Laws Protecting Informers/Whistleblowers in Singapore
Being caught in a dilemma of whether to be a whistleblower or an informer can understandably be a stressful situation. One may righteously wish to expose wrongdoings of an unfair practice, corruption, or offences being committed to the higher-ups in your organisation to the authorities.
However, doing so involves several considerations – such as how much information to share, and the appropriate channel to report the matter – since it could put you in a vulnerable position, especially if your identity is disclosed. It is against this light that there are certain laws in place to protect whistleblowers and informers.
This article will discuss:
- Who are whistleblowers and informers?
- Instances when you have a duty to give information
- Are there any risks of becoming a whistleblower or an informer?
- How are whistleblowers and informers protected in Singapore?
- Will whistleblowers and informers be rewarded?
Who are Whistleblowers and Informers?
A whistleblower refers to someone who discloses information relating to activities going on within an organisation which, amongst others, are illegal, fraudulent and/or abusive. This person is usually an employee in the organisation.
An informer is a broad term that typically refers to a person who reports criminal activities to the authorities and may include a whistleblower.
Instances When You have a Duty to Give Information
Under the law, there are certain situations where you are bound to give information about the commission or the intention of a person to commit an offence.
For example, you must make a police report and provide information where you know that a person has committed or intends to commit the following offences:
- Harbouring or concealing an offender to help the offender evade legal punishment
- Causing fire, or contribute to the risk of causing fire that endangers human life and cause hurt or injury
- Theft with the making of preparations to cause death or hurt or restraint
- Robbery and/or gang-robbery
- Forgery or counterfeiting currency or bank notes.
Further, you are also obliged to disclose information in relation to the following offences committed against the State:
- Any attempts, abetting or actual waging of war against the Government
- Plans to kill, hurt, unlawfully imprison or restrain the President
- Plans to deprive or depose the President from his/her authority
- The abetting of the offences listed above.
If it is later discovered that you have withheld information regarding any of the above offences committed against the State, you may be punished with imprisonment for up to 10 years, and/or be fined.
Making a police report
You may make a police report to provide information about criminal activity that you are aware of (especially if the potential offences are those as mentioned above). If you make a police report via the iWitness portal on the Singapore Police Force website, you have the option of doing so anonymously.
Are There Any Risks of Becoming a Whistleblower or an Informer?
One can imagine the risks that come with becoming a whistleblower or an informer.
Take the example of an employee who witnesses egregious misconduct of his employers. If this employee reports the misconduct either internally to the higher-ups or externally to the authorities, and no form of protection is in place – such that his identity is disclosed to the company, there are consequences that he may have to deal with.
For example, besides being fired from his position due to him being a whistleblower, the employee may also find it difficult to secure employment at other places as a “known informer”. Further, he might be put in a vulnerable and threatened position if the employers were to go after him personally for exposing their wrongdoings.
How are Whistleblowers and Informers Protected in Singapore?
Unlike some other countries, Singapore does not have whistleblowing legislation in place. Nonetheless, there are specific laws which you could be aware of and look to for the safeguarding of informers.
The following are some examples of legislation that contain safeguards for the protection of informers:
- Prevention of Corruption Act;
- Misuse of Drugs Act; and
- Betting Act.
If you give information relating to the offences falling under the legislation listed above, these legislation provide that:
- An informer’s name, address, or any matter which might lead to discovering his/her identity shall not be disclosed by any witness.
- If any evidence, such as books, documents or papers are to be inspected during proceedings, the court will ensure that the informer’s details which may be found on the evidence(s) will be concealed or destroyed such that his/her identity will be protected.
Note that while an informer is accorded protection under the law, this privilege is not absolute. If the court finds that the informer had knowingly made a false statement in making the report, the informer’s identity may be disclosed.
Whistleblowing policies for employees
Certain government agencies and companies may also have their own whistleblowing policies for employees to make reports without fear of reprisal, discrimination or adverse consequences. These organisations typically have an independent Internal Audit Unit to manage the reporting channels in order to ensure confidentiality.
Channels for reporting
Whistleblowing policies usually expressly provide for the appropriate channel(s) to report wrongful practices or misconduct. These include reporting through an online form, sending an email or mailing a letter to a postal address.
Types of incidents to be reported
The sort of information an informer may provide and the types of incidents for whistle-blowing may also be provided in the policies. For instance, workplace harassment, financial and non-financial malpractice, failure to comply with law and regulations are generally classified as reportable incidents.
Can employees remain anonymous when making a whistleblower report?
It is possible for a whistleblower to maintain anonymity. Such options are usually provided for in the whistleblowing policy.
However, the downside to remaining anonymous is that this may weaken the credibility of the information provided since the authorities are not able to make clarifications if needed, in turn hindering investigations.
What happens after employees make a whisteblower report?
After making a report, the information will be considered and assessed to see if further investigation(s) may be warranted.
Will Whistleblowers and Informers be Rewarded?
It is fairly uncommon for whistleblowers to be rewarded. There is, however, one instance where an informer could be rewarded.
This is where an informant provides information or documents relating to tax evasion. If such information or documents lead to the recovery of tax that would have been lost, he/she can request for a reward of 15% of the tax recovered, capped at $100,000. Note that IRAS retains full discretion as to whether to reward the informer.
Understandably, you may have many concerns when it comes to becoming an informer. You may wish to consider engaging a lawyer, who will be able to identify and share with you your rights and extent of protection under the law. An experienced lawyer would also be able to advise you on the appropriate steps to take in making a report.
- How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
- What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
- Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
- Police Investigation Process in Singapore
- Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
- Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
- Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
- What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
- Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
- What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
- "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
- Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
- Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
- Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
- Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
- Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
- What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
- Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
- Claiming Trial as an Accused
- Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
- The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
- Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
- Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
- Recidivism: What Happens If You Reoffend in Singapore?
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
- Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
- Presidential Clemency in Singapore
- Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
- Criminal Records in Singapore
- Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
- Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
- How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
- Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
- How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
- Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
- Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
- Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
- 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
- Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
- Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
- Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
- Falsely Accused of Rape in Singapore: What to Do
- How are Sexual Offenders with Special Needs Penalised?
- Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
- Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
- Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
- What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
- What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
- Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
- Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
- Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
- STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
- Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
- Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
- Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
- Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
- Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
- Laws on Procuring Sex Workers & Sexual Services in Singapore
- Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
- Gambling Legally (In Public or Online) in Singapore
- The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
- Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
- Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
- Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
- Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
- Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
- Penalties for Littering and Killer Litter Offences in Singapore
- Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
- DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
- What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
- Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
- Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
- Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
- Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
- Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
- Here are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore
- Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
- Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
- Expats Charged With Offences in Singapore: What to Expect
- What are the Penalties for Hiring Phantom Workers in Singapore?
- Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
- Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore