SINGAPORE: In a July 26 interview with BBC Newsday, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong admitted that the recent political scandals are a setback for the ruling party and the government.
However, he repeatedly made the distinction between the corruption case carried out by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), which involves Transport Minister S Iswaran, and the scandal around the extramarital affair between two Members of Parliament from the People’s Action Party, Mr Tan Chuan Jin and Ms Cheng Li Hui.
Mr Wong fielded questions from BBC regarding transparency and accountability to the public, saying that “what matters more” is the government’s response when scandals occur.
“We have sought to set things straight, to do the right thing. We have been upfront about the cases; [they will be] investigated thoroughly, and [we will] have a full accounting to the public as and when investigation findings are available.”
Nevertheless, the DPM said he understood the frustration that some members of the public had expressed because it took several days before Mr Iswaran’s arrest was disclosed, and that regarding the affair, PM Lee had been told about it awhile back but hastened to clarify that these are two unrelated matters.
At one point, the BBC asked Mr Wong why the Speaker of the Parliament was allowed to continue performing his duty, given that PM Lee had known about the affair for some time.
“With corruption and criminal wrongdoing, we have zero tolerance. When it comes to conduct, you have to exercise judgment.
To be clear, we set high standards for propriety and personal conduct, but in dealing with such cases – which are cases of human frailties – we are also very cognisant of the impact that our actions have on innocent parties, including families, especially the spouses and their children…
We do not police the private lives of all our MPs.”