SINGAPORE — Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong assured on Wednesday that the government and the People’s Action Party (PAP) will remain transparent and accountable, even if the information is potentially damaging or embarrassing.
This follows after the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) released a statement that Transport Minister S. Iswaran is assisting with an investigation into an uncovered case.
Addressing the situation at a media doorstop at the Ministry of Communications and Information, Deputy Prime Minister emphasized the government’s unwavering commitment to upholding trust with the people. “We will maintain a tough, zero tolerance stance against corruption. We will continue to uphold stringent standards of honesty, integrity and probity that Singaporeans expect of their political leaders,” he stated.
Previously, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had instructed Mr Iswaran to take a leave of absence, rendering him unable to undertake his ministerial responsibilities.
The CPIB’s involvement with Mr Iswaran started in May when the bureau informed PM Lee about an unrelated investigation.
On 5 July, the CPIB saw the need to interview Mr Iswaran as part of its investigations. Upon receiving PM Lee’s consent on 6 July, formal investigations commenced on 11 July.
In Mr Iswaran’s absence, Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat will take over as the Acting Minister for Transport.
Despite the seriousness of the matter, Mr Wong urged the public to refrain from further speculation and allow the investigation to follow its course.
The CPIB will release its findings when it is ready.
When asked about the distinction between the recent Ridout saga and the current investigation, DPM Wong clarified: “The two cases are very different.” He reminded that the Ridout investigation was initiated after questions and allegations were raised in public, whereas the current investigation was internally initiated by the CPIB without any public complaint.
In the Ridout case, despite a statement from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) confirming that all procedures were complied with, questions continued to be raised. Ministers involved asked for an independent review, and PM Lee ordered an investigation.
The investigation found no evidence of corruption or criminal wrongdoing on the part of the ministers involved.
In the current case, it was the CPIB that discovered the matter and felt the need to interview Minister Iswaran as part of further investigations. PM Lee concurred with the formal investigations, leading to Mr Iswaran’s leave of absence.
Mr Wong ended by reassuring that CPIB will undertake a full, thorough, and independent investigation on this case.
Mr Wong also indicated that it would be “difficult” for Mr Iswaran to fulfil his duties as a representative for the West Coast constituency.
Consequently, other Members of Parliament from the West Coast will step in for him.
Minister for National Development, Desmond Lee, posted on Facebook, saying,” We would like to assure residents of West Coast division that we will continue to serve them and ensure that their needs are supported.”