Action can be taken against those who flood govt hotlines, incite others to do so: Ministries

SINGAPORE – The authorities will not hesitate to take action against people who disrupt essential call centre operations or encourage others to do so.

This includes those who call the National Care Hotline and other government phone lines “with the intention of overwhelming and disrupting” such operations.

“The incitement and carrying out of actions that aim to disrupt any essential call centre operations is illegal,” said the Ministries of Health and Social and Family Development on Sunday (Oct 17), in response to queries from The Straits Times.

“We take this matter very seriously, and will not hesitate to work with the police and enforcement agencies to take action where necessary.”

Last week, several chat groups on messaging app Telegram had called on members to “flood” government phone lines – including both ministries’ hotlines – under the guise of giving feedback on the latest measures that bar unvaccinated people from entering malls and other public spaces.

“Get people to demand this gets pushed up to the call centre manager. And ask for them to revert back,” the message said. “Otherwise call again tmr (tomorrow) and ask for any feedback.”

In their joint statement, the ministries said these hotlines are important channels for Singaporeans in need to seek timely help. They urged everyone to exercise social responsibility and not deny genuine callers the opportunity to seek help.

The Health Ministry saw a surge in calls to its hotline last month, as people on the home recovery programme dialled in to ask for help on their specific circumstances. This resulted in complaints after some people were not able to reach a phone operator.

“With the already high call volumes that are being registered every day, such spamming will lengthen waiting times and frustrate genuine callers and may, in some cases, keep some Singaporeans from receiving critical assistance,” the ministries said.

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