Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was disappointed and saddened that former Transport Minister Iswaran was leaving politics under these circumstances, but it was right for him to deal with the corruption case rigorously in accordance with the law.
“The Government has dealt with this case rigorously in accordance with the law, and will continue to do so. I am determined to uphold the integrity of the Party and the Government, and our reputation for honesty and incorruptibility. Singaporeans expect no less, ” PM stressed in a statement on Iswaran’s resignation.
The Government today released the exchange of letters between the PM and the former Minister, who is now facing 27 charges, including alleged corruption and obstruction of justice.
PM Lee, who is also the Secretary General of PAP, said that Iswaran submitted his resignation on Jan 16. This was after the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) had given Iswaran formal notice of the criminal charges filed against him.
Iswaran will return his salary as a minister and allowances as an MP from the start of the CPIB’s probe in July 2023, he added.
In his resignation letter to PM Lee dated Jan 16, Iswaran said CPIB charged him with various offences.
“I reject the allegations in the charges and will now focus on clearing my name. Given the circumstances, I feel it is right for me to resign from Cabinet, as a Member of Parliament and as a member of the PAP,” he added.
In a letter dated Jan 17, Iswaran informed PM that he would be returning his salary and MP allowances received since the start of the CPIB’s investigations although he has not been asked to do so.
“My family and I have decided to return the monies because we cannot in all good conscience benefit from them when I was unable, on account of the investigations, to discharge my duties as a Minister and Member of Parliament,” he said.
He added that he will not be seeking the return of the monies if he is acquitted.
PAP will never let standards slip, system go corrupt
PM Lee has time and again reiterated that PAP would uphold the integrity of the system and maintain the trust of Singaporeans, even though it might be politically embarrassing and painful to the party.
In his Ministerial Statement in Parliament last August, PM Lee said that the PAP Government has zero tolerance towards possible corruption. To protect the integrity of our system of government, he assured Singaporeans that his team would carry through what needs to be done in accordance with the law, even if it might be politically embarrassing and painful to the party.
“It is incumbent on us to protect and uphold this system, to keep it incorruptible and clean, and maintain high standards of propriety.”
In the Party’s Awards and Convention last November, PM Lee, as the Party Sec-Gen, also urged party members to uphold the Party’s commitment to honesty and incorruptibility, and keep the party clean, what they have maintained for over 60 years.
“All of us here wear PAP whites – simple, recognisable, symbolising our commitment to honesty and incorruptibility. This commitment is absolutely non-negotiable… We expect the same from every party member. If you wear white, you must be white. “
Chee Hong Tat will be Transport Minister and Grace Fu will be Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations
In a separate statement on Jan 18, the Prime Minister’s Office said that effective Jan 18, Acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat will replace Iswaran as Transport Minister. He will also be appointed Second Minister for Finance.
Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu will be the new Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations.
Earlier on Jan 18, Iswaran was charged in court with 27 charges, with two counts relating to corruption, 24 counts of receiving gratification as a public servant, and one of obstructing the course of justice.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges and intends to contest them.
Iswaran was arrested on Jul 11 last year as part of an investigation by the anti-graft agency.
The 61-year-old has been Minister for Transport since May 2021. His political career spans 26 years since he was first elected in 1997 as a Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC.