A clean and incorrupt system of governance has been an important factor in Singapore’s progress from third world to first, said President Halimah Yacob.
“This is one of our biggest competitive advantages, and vital for a small island nation like Singapore, poor in natural resources,” she continued.
With a clean and honest government, trust between people and Government strengthened and resulted in the Singapore we see today.
President Halimah was speaking to a 120-strong crowd at the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau’s (CPIB) 70th Anniversary Commemorative Event yesterday (Sep 21). Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong also attended the event, along with anti-corruption officials from Hong Kong, Brunei and Malaysia.
“Singapore would not have achieved our remarkable social and economic progress without strong trust in our Government and institutions.” She then cited the example of Covid-19 as how Singapore was able to respond quickly and effectively because of the trust.
A high-trust society didn’t happen overnight
Back in colonial Singapore, corruption was rampant and seen as ‘low risk, high reward’. But today, with the establishment of CPIB that is known for its thorough and fearless investigations, corruption became ‘high risk, low reward’.
Indeed, the road here wasn’t easy and certainly didn’t happen overnight.
“This was down to the choices our founding generation of leaders made and the examples they set. When Mr Lee, our founding Prime Minister, and the newly-elected PAP government came to power in 1959, they made it their mission to establish a clean and efficient Government,” she said.
Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew expected the highest standards of integrity and honesty from himself and all in public service.
“In his words, leaders must be above suspicion, and must insist on the same high standards of probity of their fellow Ministers and of the officials working for them,” said President Halimah.
The introduction of strong anti-corruption laws, coupled with CPIB being protected by the Constitution, mean that CPIB can investigate anyone, without political influence, favour, or fear of reprisals.
“It has not shied away from taking action against senior government officials, be it Ministers, Members of Parliament, or senior civil servants… The Director of CPIB can go directly to the President should the Prime Minister stop him from investigating any individual under suspicion of corruption.”
The founding leaders have painstakingly built the high-trust society by placing integrity and competence at the heart of good governance, she added.
“With their (founding leaders’) conduct beyond reproach and devotion towards public duty, it is clear to Singaporeans that decisions are taken and policies developed for the public good rather than private or vested interests. This has underpinned the strong social compact between the Government and the people.”
The way forward
Having inherited this robust and incorruptible system from our forefathers, the onus is on the leaders of today and all Singaporeans to protect and maintain for the future generation.
“Integrity and Incorruptibility – these are absolute values that future generations of leaders and all Singaporeans must continue to treasure and uphold.”
And of course, at the heart of it, CPIB must continue to preserve this system of clean governance and the values we hold dear. The president reminded all Singaporeans to support the bureau and be ready to come forward with information on any suspected wrongdoing.
“Incorruptibility is a key part of the Singaporean DNA. This did not happen by chance, but is hard-earned.”
Cover photo credit: President Halimah Yacob Facebook