The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) stance on corruption is non-negotiable and part of its DNA. There can be no compromise, no relaxation, no fudging on the issue; no matter the political price, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.
“The PAP government will continue to do everything we can to uphold the highest standards of integrity, incorruptibility, and propriety. That’s how we maintain the trust that Singaporeans have placed in us,” he added.
DPM Wong is also PAP’s Deputy Secretary-General and the fourth-generation leader. Speaking to journalists on Jan 18, hours after former Transport Minister S. Iswaran was handed 27 charges for corruption, bribery and obstruction of justice, DPM Wong said the party was “saddened and disappointed that Iswaran has to leave politics under these circumstances”, and he has no doubt that the incident would affect party morale.
“But we cannot allow this political hit to compromise our zero-tolerance stance against corruption. That’s why the party, the government, will continue to do the right thing and do everything we can to keep our system corruption free,” he added.
Case will not affect the timeline for leadership transition: DPM Wong
On the impact of Iswaran’s case on succession plans, DPM Wong said the case would not affect the Government’s leadership transition timeline.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced previously that leadership transition would take place before the next general election and before the party conference in November this year.
These plans remain “on track”, DPM Wong added.
Iswaran was formerly the anchor minister for the West Coast GRC team. Minister Demond Lee and the other MPs for West Coast GRC have been taking care of residents since Iswaran’s leave of absence.
When asked whether this incident would affect the timing of the next general election, DPM Wong said that his team would think about the timing after the leadership transition. Meanwhile, the Government will continue to press on with its work, and redouble its efforts to improve the lives of Singaporeans.
“When the general election comes, the PAP will present our report card to Singaporeans, and we’ll do our best at that time to earn the confidence and trust of Singaporeans.”
Government will continue to review and update the code of conduct for ministers
In response to whether the Government will tighten processes to which ministers might receive or reject gifts, DPM Wong said that the code of conduct for ministers – put in place since 1954 – will continue to be reviewed and updated, “taking into account the experiences and learnings from this incident”.
The code of conduct sets out the principles and rules in which ministers should act in their personal affairs.
Looking at the system in Singapore, DPM Wong said that it is one that “we do our best to try and prevent and deter corruption”, but this does not mean there are no corruption cases.
That is why the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is a key part of the system, he added, “And they will investigate any incident thoroughly and when necessary, take action as they have done in this case.”
DPM Wong also revealed that CPIB pursued this matter on its own accord and did a thorough investigation before presenting its investigation to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Feature image: Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission