SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong has expressed disappointment and even sadness over the case of former Transport Minister S Iswaran, who was charged with corruption on Thursday (Jan 18).
Nevertheless, he said that the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) stance on corruption is “non-negotiable” and “is part of our DNA. There can be no compromise, no relaxation, no fudging on this, no matter the political price.” He also expressed confidence that justice will prevail.
Mr Iswaran, who resigned from the Cabinet and the PAP on Tuesday (Jan 16), has said he is innocent and has claimed trial.
The Deputy Prime Minister added that while PAP morale would be affected by the Iswaran case, the succession plan, scheduled to occur before the next General Election and the next party conference in November, is “on track.”
He firmly reiterated, “We cannot allow this political hit to compromise our zero-tolerance stance against corruption.” Mr Wong said he believes Singaporeans expect no less from the ruling party.
On the next GE, which is due to be held no later than Nov 23, 2025, Mr Wong said that when the time comes, the PAP be will presenting its “report card” to Singaporeans, as well as do its best “to earn the confidence and trust of Singaporeans.”
Mr Wong also noted that there had been no whistleblower or tip-off in Mr Iswaran’s case, but the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) pursued the case on its own accord.
The CPIB then presented the investigation to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC). The Deputy Prime Minister added that the AGC will examine the investigation into the former Transport Minister and determine if decisions must be taken against other individuals involved.
Charges against S Iswaran
With Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, Mr Iswaran arrived at the State Courts shortly after 8:00 am on Jan 16. He has been charged two counts of corruption over allegedly accepting more than S$160,000 from hotelier Ong Beng Seng.
The charges relate to advancing Mr Ong’s business interests in a Singapore Grand Prix contract with the Singapore Tourism Board.
The former Transport Minister also faces 24 additional charges for having accepted from Mr Ong “valuable things” worth more than S$384,000 from 2015 to 2022.
These include tickets to the Singapore Grand Prix, a trip to Doha on a private plane, and tickets to football games, plays, and musicals in the UK. These were reported to be in exchange for advancing Mr Ong’s business interests.
In the wake of his resignation, Mr Chee Hong Tat, who has served as Acting Transport Minister since July 2023, will step into the role, while Ms Grace Fu, the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, will assume responsibility as Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations. /TISG