Thursday, 20 September 2012

No let-up in fight against corruption: PM Lee

CPIB marks anniversary with book charting six decades of its work
By Leonard Lim, The Straits Times, 19 Sep 2012

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday said there would be no let-up in Singapore's efforts to uphold its hard-won reputation for integrity.

Anyone who breaks the rules will be caught and punished. Past cases implicating ministers have shown there will be no cover-ups - no matter how senior the officer, he said at an event to mark the 60th anniversary of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

"It's far better to suffer the embarrassment and keep the system clean for the long term, than to pretend that nothing has gone wrong and to let the rot spread," PM Lee said.

Underscoring the vital importance of clean government to Singapore's leaders was the presence of former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, at the ceremony at the Istana's grand State Room.



There were 170 guests in all, including CPIB director Eric Tan, former directors Evan Yeo, Chua Cher Yak and Soh Kee Hean and officers of the bureau.

PM Lee launched a coffee table book charting the bureau's work over the last six decades. Mr Lee Kuan Yew presented a copy to each of its three former chiefs.

In his speech, PM Lee said Singapore is well-recognised to be clean and incorrupt in international rankings by bodies such as Transparency International. The CPIB has played a "major" role in this success.

It has established a reputation for being "a formidable agency, thorough and fearless, able to detect any whiff of corruption and bring the perpetrators to justice", he added.

Over the years, the CPIB has investigated cases involving senior civil servants, ministers, and influential businessman.

Most recently, the chiefs of the Central Narcotics Bureau and the Singapore Civil Defence Force were arrested in separate cases involving alleged sex with women executives.

PM Lee stressed that cases involving the Government are not on the rise and form only a small share of total cases.

Overall, the number of complaints and cases has fallen, with the 138 cases the CPIB looked into last year the lowest in seven years.

But a clean system is not a natural state of affairs due to greed and temptation, he acknowledged, and the battle against corruption must never let up.

Corruption exacts a cost to society in the form of bad decisions and malfunctioning systems, which far exceeds the dollar amounts exchanged, he said.

In a Facebook post later, PM Lee said that to keep the system corruption-free, political leaders must lead by example, the public service must strengthen its culture of probity, and Singaporeans must continue to reject corruption.

CPIB director Eric Tan said that even as the bureau reflects on the six decades of accomplishments, its task remains to keep graft at bay. "We pledge to remain steadfast yet nimble as we meet new challenges in combating corruption through swift and sure, firm but fair action."




PM LEE HSIEN LOONG ON...


HOW SINGAPORE HAS BENEFITED FROM A CLEAN SYSTEM

Our people and our companies have a reputation for honesty, reliability and trustworthiness.

Our system overall functions properly because policies are developed for the public good rather than private or vested interests. Singaporeans know that they can make it if they work hard, whatever their family backgrounds and regardless of their personal connections.



HOW ALL HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY

Keeping Singapore clean goes beyond the public service. The political leaders have to continue to set high standards of honesty and integrity.

The society must continue to reject corruption, not just because of the rules and penalties, but because this reflects the society we want to live in, and the values that we uphold and hold ourselves to.











Highlights over the years

1952: Singapore's first independent anti-corruption unit is established.

1960: The Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) is enacted to prevent corruption more effectively. Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) officers are empowered to investigate and arrest offenders. The PCA is amended over the years to enhance punishments for offenders and give officers more investigative powers.

1968: The bureau comes under the Prime Minister's Office.

It was previously parked under the Attorney-General's Chambers and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

1975: The CPIB reveals that then Minister of State for Environment Wee Toon Boon is charged with corruption involving over $800,000.

1986: Then Minister for National Development Teh Cheang Wan investigated for corruption. Teh dies during investigations. He leaves a letter for then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, published in the 60th anniversary book.

Members of a syndicate found to be fixing the local 4-D lottery draw are arrested and convicted. The syndicate tampered with the lottery-drawing device for guaranteed winnings.

1995: Then Public Utilities Board deputy chief executive (operations) Choy Hon Tim is charged in court for accepting bribes totalling $13.85 million - the highest graft amount in the CPIB's history.

1996: The bureau starts to conduct its own basic training course for newly recruited CPIB officers, instead of relying on the Police Academy.

2004: A computer forensic unit is set up to examine computer-related evidence. CPIB flag also commissioned.

2007: Wang Xin, the team manager of S-League club Liaoning Guangyuan football club, is investigated for match-fixing. Seven players are charged and jailed. Wang absconds while on bail.

2009: Top chefs from several popular restaurants are found guilty of receiving commissions from a seafood products supplier who "encouraged" the chefs to purchase seafood from his company.

2011: The CPIB investigates 138 graft cases, a seven-year low. The majority (75 per cent) are from the private sector.

DEC 2011/JAN 2012: Investigations into sex-for-contracts cases involving the chiefs of the anti-narcotics bureau and the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Ng Boon Gay and Peter Lim, begin. Both have been suspended. The court trial for Ng starts on Tuesday.



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