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Presidential hopeful Tharman reaffirms trust in the Singapore system amid questions over opaqueness of CPIB investigation

Amid an unfolding corruption investigation involving high-profile figures, Singapore’s presidential hopeful and former senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has assured the public of the country’s steadfast commitment to transparency and incorruptibility.

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) disclosed on Friday that Transport Minister S. Iswaran and billionaire businessman Ong Beng Seng had been arrested on the previous Tuesday, a significant revelation that had been notably absent from prior official communications.

This late disclosure, which came three days after the arrests and followed a disclosure by Mr. Ong’s company, Hotel Properties Limited, on the Singapore Stock Exchange, has sparked questions about the level of transparency maintained by the Prime Minister’s Office and the CPIB.

This is particularly poignant considering the status of the accused – Minister Iswaran, a high-ranking government official, and Ong, an influential figure in business circles.

Addressing the concerns during his campaign trail in Teck Whye on Saturday (15 Jul), Mr Tharman, a respected economic policymaker, emphasized Singapore’s rigorous and transparent system.

He stated, “We’ve never had a Prime Minister (who) prevents the CPIB from doing its work. If ever the day comes, the president will be there…that’s the Singapore system.”

Adding further weight to his commitment to transparency, he said: “Each time there’s a setback, treat the setback as an opportunity to strengthen the system, to display full transparency.”

The presidential hopeful, who recently stepped down from public service to run for presidency, stressed that the current situation should not be considered the end for his long-time colleague, Minister Iswaran.

He advocated for the investigation to take its course, signalling his belief in the system’s capability to deliver justice.

Both Mr Iswaran and Mr Ong were released on bail, and their passports were impounded by the CPIB as part of the bail conditions.

While it is known that the billionaire’s bail is set at S$100,000 and he left the country with permission on Friday, the CPIB has not disclosed the bail amount for Mr Iswaran.

The investigation is ongoing, with details of the alleged offence(s) remaining undisclosed by CPIB.

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