SINGAPORE: Dr Paul Tambyah, chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), wrote in a July 13 Facebook post that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), which is the authority for investigating and preventing corruption in Singapore and has been much in the news lately, is “clearly competent, thorough and professional.”
However, he pointed out that the agency has “one major blindspot, in that “investigations of ministers apparently need to be ‘cleared’ by the Prime Minister.”
Dr Tambyah added, “There is at least a potential conflict of interest if the PM has to decide whether or not to investigate his close cabinet colleagues – people he has personally selected as his trusted comrades and campaigned with for decades.”
“Perhaps the time has come to set up an independent Ombudsman as Professor Tommy Koh has suggested for many years. (https://sg.news.yahoo.com/ambassador-at-large-tommy-koh…)”.
Others have also called for forming the Office of an Ombudsman to investigate potential misconduct by public servants, including the Workers’ Party, as one of the key policies it had advanced.
On Wednesday, July 13, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he had instructed Transport Minister S Iswaran to take a leave of absence while the CPIB conducts a formal investigation involving interviewing Mr Iswaran over a case the agency had “uncovered.”
PM Lee also wrote that he had given the CPIB Director his concurrence on July 6 and that the Minister is assisting with the probe.
The incident has made the news worldwide, with Bloomberg calling it “The Country’s Most Serious Graft Probe Since 1986.”
Last month, CPIB carried out an investigation of Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in connection with the rentals of two bungalows at Ridout Road, announcing on June 28 that it found no evidence of corruption or criminal wrongdoing, which Dr Tambyah noted in his post. /TISG