In this annual year-end roundup series, Petir.sg looks back at key moments of 2023.
THESE ARE the five most important facts about the July arrest of Minister for Transport S Iswaran, as well as the investigation ongoing around him:
- Singapore’s highest anti-corruption authority, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), is in charge. The CPIB is independent in its duties and helped transform Singapore into one of the world’s least-corrupt countries.
- The CPIB will not hesitate to take action against anyone involved in corruption once the facts are established.
- We base our actions on the information which CPIB releases about the investigation. And as a Party of integrity and transparency, we will not sweep anything under the carpet, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong (Jul 12).
- As a Party, we have zero tolerance for corruption. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong does his duty to keep our system robust and clean, as he said this August. We will do the right thing, work with the law and pay the political price if needed for the good of Singapore.
- As the investigation continued, our MPs asked Government ministers difficult questions about it (Aug 2). To this day, our MPs are ensuring that West Coast GRC residents remain fully supported as well.
July also saw our Speaker of Parliament and one of our MPs being asked to resign for an extramarital affair. This was a personal failing on their part, versus the legal proceedings of the CPIB investigation.
So here, we balanced between the need to be sensitive to the impact on innocent parties versus the need to maintain our responsibilities and our trust with Singapore. Some observers have said we could have swept it under the carpet until the next General Elections. No, that’s not how we operate. We will take the political hit if we have to. Ultimately, we do not accept moral wrongdoing. Everyone in our Party must live honourably, and be honest and faithful to his or her country, kith and kin. PM Lee has set the high bar for all to see.
A $7 billion package and changing Singapore’s housing policy
During this difficult period, we remained focused on planning for a great future for Singaporeans — our system, with its foundational insistence on an honest and clean government, weathered the shocks of July so that we could look beyond the particularities of the present.
Source: Age Well SG
At this year’s National Day Rally (Aug 20), PM Lee announced the Majulah Package; a $7 billion gift to seniors which will support their retirement. The Package includes an annual “Earn and Save” Bonus of up to $1,500 as well as enhances schemes like the Workfare Income Supplement. PM Lee also announced Age Well SG, which means senior-friendly infrastructure like raised zebra crossings as well as senior-focused neighbourhood activities; this is all so that Singaporeans can age well at home and in their communities. This goes a long way towards preparing for the upcoming super-aged Singapore.
And PM Lee also restated our Party’s commitment towards accessible and affordable housing for Singaporeans at the Rally. The upcoming Standard, Plus and Prime model for new flats, which is based upon a unit’s location, subsidies and resale restrictions, is one key way for achieving that — homeowners cannot flip particularly desirable flats for a quick profit and drive up housing prices.
With its mix of different flats across towns, this new housing framework — and this is particularly important for Singapore’s soul — will also keep Singapore’s neighbourhoods diverse and inclusive.
“Our forefathers built more than a nation of bricks and mortar, skyscrapers and a thriving economy. They created a nation founded on ideals: justice and equality; religious freedom and racial harmony; a commitment to excellence; a fair system of meritocracy; and an uncompromising insistence on honest, clean government,” said PM Lee about the values upon which Singapore was founded.
Nothing fundamental has changed about this system. Nor these ideals. We will keep at this exceptional nation-building project.