Parliamentary Speeches

Workplace Harassment and Racial Discrimination Within the Home Team – Speech by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State

Published: 06 February 2024


1. Mr Speaker, I will speak in Malay, on behalf of Minister.

Workplace Harassment and Racial Discrimination in the Home Team

2. The Home Team does not tolerate workplace harassment and racial discrimination. All allegations of such nature are treated seriously and investigated. We have put in place various safeguards to deter and detect such behaviours. This was covered in Minister Shanmugam’s written reply to Parliamentary questions on avenues for Home Team officers to raise complaints, in September last year.

3. I will highlight some of the key points from that reply and make further elaborations.

4. But first, let me summarise the outcome of the investigations into the late Sgt Uvaraja’s allegations.  The investigations found that most of the allegations, including that he was ill-treated, bullied, ostracised and unfairly held back in his career, and that other officers’ misconduct had been covered up, were demonstrably false. Where the complaints were substantiated, appropriate actions had already been taken at that time, and errant officers had already been taken to task.  

5. AGC had reviewed the findings, and decided that no further action needs to be taken against any of the involved officers. Minister Shanmugam has also reviewed the findings. 

Channels to Report Workplace Harassment and Racial Discrimination

6. As for the reporting channels available for Home Team officers to raise grievances, or report wrongdoing or workplace discrimination, they can do so to any level of management through the Channel for Formal Grievance Handling and the Channel for Confidential Ethical Disclosure. Officers are informed of these reporting channels when they first join MHA, and at various engagement sessions.

7. There are clear escalation guidelines and processes to ensure that all reports of workplace discrimination, unfair treatment, or misconduct, are investigated objectively, professionally, and expeditiously.  Officers who are not satisfied with the outcome of an investigation can further escalate the matter up within the Ministry, the Public Service Division, or even to the Head of Civil Service.

8. Officers can also provide anonymous feedback, including on workplace discrimination issues, via MHA’s Pulse Surveys, Public Service Employee Engagement Surveys, and 360 Degree Surveys of supervisors. Feedback received through these surveys are taken seriously and investigated where necessary.

9. In the past five years, 310 cases of wrongdoings were reported across all Home Team Departments, of which 92, or about 30%, were reports of workplace harassment.

10. Our investigations showed that 50 of the 92 cases were substantiated. And of the 50, three were for racial discrimination, two of which were from the Police Force. The officers in all 50 cases were dealt with in accordance with the Civil Service Disciplinary Framework.

Training Officers to Deter, Detect and Report Wrongful Behaviour

11. These formal organisational reporting channels are necessary, but insufficient on their own. Every officer has a role to play in ensuring that the workplace remains safe for everyone.

12. Officers can attend programmes and trainings to learn about cultural, religious, and racial sensitivities, and about behaviours that constitute bullying and sexual harassment.

13. Through such trainings, we empower officers with the skills to deter and detect workplace harassment. At the same time, we assure them that they can come forward when they witness or become victims of workplace harassment.

Dialogues Between Officers and Senior Management

14. In addition, Minister Shanmugam, Second Minister Josephine, MOS Xueling, and I, as well as the Home Team senior management, regularly engage our officers in dialogues. We do this to get a better sense of the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.

15. During these sessions, officers do surface issues and concerns, and they can also do so anonymously via the online platform which may be set up for the dialogues. 

16. In some instances, we arrange for a smaller group session if the officers prefer to speak to us in a more private setting.

17. We take seriously all the issues and concerns our officers raise. 


18. Mr Speaker, MHA takes a strong stance against workplace harassment and racial discrimination. We treat all such allegations seriously and investigate thoroughly. 

19. There have indeed been a few black sheep; no organisation or society can completely eliminate all harassment and discrimination. But such cases remain far and few between in the Home Team.

20. And if we do find any wrongdoing, rest assured that we will not hesitate to take the culpable officers to task, regardless of seniority. This is the only way to keep the confidence and trust of our officers, and the public whom we serve.  

21. Thank you.