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2 people investigated for allegedly instigating others to overwhelm public hotlines with calls

2 people investigated for allegedly instigating others to overwhelm public hotlines with calls

SINGAPORE: Two people are being investigated for their alleged involvement in instigating others to “call and overwhelm public hotlines”, said the police on Thursday (Nov 25).

The hotlines help the public with COVID-19 issues, among other services provided. They include the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Quality Service/Feedback hotline, the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) hotline and the National CARE Hotline.

On Oct 18, the police received a report alleging that a man and woman had incited more than 2,000 members in a Telegram messaging group to overwhelm public hotlines through sharing their feedback on the stricter COVID-19 measures for unvaccinated people in public places.

“The message purportedly claimed that the Government was seeking ‘nationwide ground feedback on the new measures’, and that the public should call in to the MOH hotline, the MSF hotline and the National CARE Hotline, and demand that their feedback gets pushed up to the respective call centre managers,” said police.

“The members were also encouraged to call the hotlines again the following day, to seek feedback on the calls they had made earlier.”

As the alleged incitement to overwhelm public hotlines has the potential to obstruct the work of public servants, the police, in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, are investigating the 48-year-old man and 45-year-old woman for allegedly instigating people to do so.

Anyone found guilty of obstructing public servants in the discharge of their public functions can be jailed for up to three months, fined up to S$2,500, or both.

Those found guilty of abetting the commission of such an offence by the public generally, or any number of more than 10 people, can be jailed for up to five years, fined, or both.

The police said it would not hesitate to take action against irresponsible persons who disrupt and overwhelm essential call centre operations or encourage others to do so.

“These public hotlines are important channels for Singaporeans to seek help, and a surge in needless and malicious calls will lengthen waiting times and frustrate genuine callers,” said the police.

“In some cases, such calls may also prevent those in need from receiving timely critical assistance. Offenders will be dealt with firmly and severely in accordance with the law.”

2 people investigated for allegedly instigating others to overwhelm public hotlines with calls

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