All S'poreans play role in fight against corruption: PM

The CPIB's Corruption Reporting and Heritage Centre in Whitley Road is one location where people can complain about corruption in person. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said many successful investigations arise from tip-offs, and urged people who kno
The CPIB's Corruption Reporting and Heritage Centre in Whitley Road is one location where people can complain about corruption in person. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said many successful investigations arise from tip-offs, and urged people who know or suspect corrupt behaviour to report it.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

He urges everyone to do their best to protect legacy of clean system

Singaporeans play an important part in ensuring that corruption does not become a social norm, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

While the courts, the Government and public servants need to maintain the highest levels of professionalism and integrity, the people must also actively reject corruption to prevent the scourge from taking root here, he added.

"Our founding leaders left us a clean system, built up over more than half a century. It is a legacy that we can be proud of, and we should do our utmost to protect it," he said at the official opening of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau's (CPIB) Corruption Reporting and Heritage Centre in Whitley Road.

The centre, which has been running since Jan 9, is another location where people can complain in person about corruption. Previously, they had to do it at the CPIB headquarters in Lengkok Bahru.

Reiterating Singapore's zero-tolerance approach towards corruption, Mr Lee said a clean system, which is necessary for the country's success, is not a natural state of affairs.

"We have a system that works, and we must keep it that way," he added.

This is unlike many countries, where corruption is accepted as the "natural state of affairs" and is impossible to eradicate, he said.

  • 118

    Number of corruption cases investigated by the CPIB last year - a 32-year low.

Singaporeans demand and expect a clean system, and do not condone giving or accepting bribes, said Mr Lee, noting that they also trust that the law will be applied transparently and fairly to all.

"People believe that they can make it because they work hard, not because they have special connections or are paying extra 'fees', and that is the way things should be."

He said that Singapore also has a professional public service that is paid "fair and realistic wages" benchmarked against the private sector. This, he added, reduces the temptation to accept bribes.

Elections in Singapore also do not cost a lot of money, unlike in other countries, where clean candidates and political parties stand no chance of being elected if they do not have the resources, he said.

Turning to the new CPIB centre, Mr Lee said it shows that the Government treats complaints about corruption seriously.

He called on people who know or suspect corrupt behaviour to report it, pointing out that many successful investigations arise from such tip-offs.

"We will investigate any complaint on corruption thoroughly," he said.

The number of corruption cases fell 11 per cent last year from the year before, hitting a 32-year low - with the CPIB investigating 118 cases.

Singapore was ranked the seventh least corrupt country in the world last year by graft watchdog Transparency International.

After touring the centre, Mr Lee presented prizes to students who won a short-story writing competition organised by the CPIB.

Nanyang Polytechnic student Corwin Pek, 17, one of the award winners, said: "Not many Singaporeans know how the CPIB works, and this gallery will help people get a better understanding of it."

The centre also houses a heritage gallery, where visitors can view artefacts about old cases and learn of the CPIB's history through quizzes played on interactive screens.

CPIB director Wong Hong Kuan said it creates "an accessible space for the public to report and learn about corruption".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'All S'poreans play role in fight against corruption: PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe