An independent office ought to be set up in order to tackle the serious problem of conflicts of interest that has befallen Singapore, said People’s Voice (PV) chief Lim Tean.
“As I survey the public scene in Singapore today, it is obvious to me and sad that we have a serious problem of conflicts of interest,” Mr Lim wrote in a Facebook post last Saturday (12 Sep).
He asserted that Singaporeans cannot allow the ruling government and its ministers to decide whether or not the position of a particular person is in conflict with the public interest.
Hence, Mr Lim opined that the future ruling government – ideally a non-PAP affiliated one – must set up an independent ‘Office of the Conflicts of Interest’ headed by an ‘Ethics Commissioner’.
According to him, there is such an Office and Commissioner in Canada – which is totally independent and accountable only to the Canadian Parliament and not to the Executive.
“We should go one step further and make such an Office and Commissioner accountable to the People of Singapore and not just Parliament. The Commissioner should enjoy the same status as that of a High Court Judge and his decisions must be binding,” he argued.
Mr Lim went on to say that Singaporeans should not tolerate the notion of politicians’ spouses occupying important public service positions where their decisions may be in conflict with the interest of the Government or the political party their other half belongs to.
“Neither should we tolerate any instance where a spouse occupies a senior role in a commercial entity, which is awarded a government contract that his/her other half may have influence over,” he added.
Mr Lim concluded by stressing the importance of taking active steps to bring about accountability and transparency instead of simply mouthing nice sounding slogans.