PM Lee Hsien Loong (C) attends CPIB 60th anniversary celebrations with former PMs Mr Lee Kuan Yew (R) and ESM Goh Chok Tong (L)
19 September 2012. Yesterday speaking at the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) 60th anniversary celebrations, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the recent probes into wrongdoing by public servants reflect the government’s determination to clamp down on corruption even when they are embarrassing and awkward. Recent cases involving corruption on the part of high-ranking public servants and lapses in government procurement procedures have cast a shadow on the integrity of the public service. He added: “It’s far better to suffer the embarrassment and to keep the system clean for the long-term than to pretend that nothing has gone wrong and to let the rot spread.” Despite the recent lapses, Mr. Lee said he believes most officers are upright and trustworthy and is confident that these lapses are not typical of the public service. In the 1950s, Singapore was a third world country where corruption was rampant. Now, the nation is regarded to be amongst the least corrupt in the world. According to global civil society Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2011, Singapore is ranked as the fifth least corrupted country, behind New Zealand, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Singapore scored 9.2 against New Zealand’s 9.5, which is the top scorer. He noted that imbuing public officers with the right values is important because “no system can completely stop a determined cheat”. He called on public officers to understand the “ethos of public service” and to never let the public down – something the Head of Civil Service and Permanent Secretaries have clearly conveyed to all ministries and statutory boards. Political leaders, too, must continue to set high standards of honesty and integrity, and society must continue to reject corruption, in order to keep Singapore graft-free, he added. The CPIB anniversary celebration was also attended by the Republic’s first two Prime Ministers, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong. In a press statement yesterday, Mr Lee Kuan Yew – who is one of the Republic’s founding fathers – recounted how his team set out to eradicate corruption in Singapore. He said: “We strengthened the laws against corruption, gave CPIB officers more powers of interrogation and to seize documents. We introduced a fundamental change in the law on burden of proof that if a man possesses more assets than his known income, he is presumed to be corrupt and he must account for his assets beyond what he earns.” He added: “We have succeeded in keeping Singapore clean and corruption free. This requires strong political will, constant vigilance and relentless efforts by CPIB to follow up every complaint and every clue of wrong doing.” He described the latest cases which involved women seeking favourable outcomes by allegedly offering sex in return as “new forms of corruption”. “There is no end to human ingenuity,” he said.