Thursday, 21 September 2023

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Ravi Philemon questions government transparency amidst transport minister’s CPIB investigation

SINGAPORE — The Secretary General of Red Dot United, Ravi Philemon, issued a response today following the announcement that Singapore’s Transport Minister, S Iswaran, is currently being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Earlier today, the CPIB announced that Minister Iswaran is assisting with an ongoing corruption investigation, though details surrounding the investigation remain undisclosed.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated that he had approved the investigation, including an interview with Minister Iswaran, and advised the minister to take a leave of absence.

Mr Philemon expressed concern over the investigation, voicing his unease at the lack of specific details provided by the CPIB and PM Lee.

He suggested that the authorities could offer a general description of the case without compromising the investigation, allowing the public to better understand the context and severity of the situation.

“Transparency should be a priority, especially when a Minister is involved. We need more information,” Mr Philemon stated, highlighting the need for the government to balance public interest and transparency while preserving the integrity of the investigation.

The Secretary General also questioned whether CPIB’s zero-tolerance policy is primarily reactive, focusing more on punishment rather than proactive prevention of corruption.

“Singaporeans deserve a comprehensive strategy that emphasises preventive measures such as promoting transparency, strengthening governance structures, and fostering a culture of ethics and integrity,” he said.

Mr Philemon also challenged the policy of paying top salaries for public servants. PM Lee has consistently emphasized that this policy, which pegs ministers’ salaries to the top 1,000 earners in the workforce, helps deter corruption. The Secretary General suggested that this policy requires careful scrutiny.

Up until today, Singapore’s politicians remain the highest-paid civil servants in the world. PM Lee is said to earn S$2.2 million annually. Second in line is Hong Kong’s Chief Executive at around S$900,000, while third is the United States President at around S$535,000.

Finally, Mr Philemon pointed out that recent events involving senior leaders of the People’s Action Party (PAP) raised questions about the party’s ongoing relevance to the common man. This comment comes amidst increasing public scrutiny and calls for transparency and accountability from government officials.

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