Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Transport in the last three years (a) how many applications for the (i) Taxi Driver’s Vocational Licence (ii) Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence (iii) Bus Driver’s Vocational Licence (iv) Bus Attendant’s Vocational Licence and (v) Omnibus Driver’s Vocational Licence were rejected due to the criminal record of the applicants for offences other than rape, murder or kidnapping respectively; and (b) of these, how many appeals were received and how many were approved upon appeal.
The Senior Minister of State for Transport (Dr Amy Khor Lean Suan) (for the Minister for Transport): Of the more than 15,000 vocational licence or VL applications across the different services in 2022, 226 applications or about 1.5% were rejected due to criminal records, including murder, rape and kidnapping.
It is necessary for LTA to screen the VL applications to safeguard the interests of the commuting public. LTA may consider appeals from applicants with criminal records depending on the nature of the case. In 2022, 72 out of these 169 appeals were acceded to. LTA considers such appeals carefully to strike a balance between allowing applicants who committed less severe offences to take on driving as a vocation while safeguarding the safety of passengers.
Mr Speaker: Mr Gerald Giam.
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): I thank the Senior Minister of State for her reply. I understand that those who have committed offences like rape, murder and kidnapping will not get a licence. And I think that is a reasonable safeguard for passengers.
However, I have met residents who told me they cannot get back their vocational licence for past convictions for less violent or non-violent offences. This prevents them from earning a living and re-integrating into society.
So, can the Senior Minister of State please provide more clarity on what offences will debar a person from obtaining this licence? I think this will also give some clarity to the passengers to know that drivers who have gotten offences in the past will not be a safety threat to themselves.
Dr Amy Khor Lean Suan: As the Member has rightly pointed out, we need to strike a balance, we need to maintain public confidence, especially for passengers conveyed in public service vehicles, like taxis and private hire cars (PHCs). Whilst we want to give the applicant who has had a criminal record before a second chance in taking up driving as a vocation, we also need to ensure that the interest and safety of commuters are safeguarded.
So, when we look at the applications, the Member has asked whether there are specific offences that we consider. Actually, criminal offences make up a large range. Besides murder, rape and kidnapping, there is a real wide range of such offences. We will consider them on a case-by-case basis because it is not just the severity of the offence, but also when the offence was committed and also any other mitigating factors like recalcitrance and so on.
So, when an appeal comes in, we will look at it on a case-by-case basis, based on its own merit and make an independent assessment.
Ministry of Transport
22 March 2023