Singapore PM upholds the country’s image of honesty

Transparency International ranks Singapore as the fifth least corrupt
country after New Zealand, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.  Following the
scandals that have embarrassed the nation widely, it’s time that Singapore
Prime Minister upholds the country’s image of honesty.

This year’s cases of Singaporean high-profile officers involving in sex-for-favor scandals have unquestionably sparked a debate on whether Singapore is losing its reputation of honesty in public and private sectors. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on Tuesday 18 September 2012, has vowed to punish corrupt officials regardless of how senior or embarrassing the case may be.

“Anyone who breaks the rules will be caught and punished. No cover-up will be allowed, no matter how senior the officer or how embarrassing it may be,” Lee said.

Lee’s comments reflect a concern in the government that its reputation as one of the least corrupt nations in the world may be tarnished because of the alarming slew of cases this year. They include two senior bureaucrats who are accused of obtaining sex from women executives of companies that supplied computer technology services and goods to their organizations.

“It’s far better to suffer the embarrassment and keep the system clean for the long-term, than to pretend that nothing has gone wrong and to let the rot spread,” Lee said.

Although Singapore imposes tough penalties for corruption which is 5-year jail term and up to S$100,000 ($80,000) fine, Lee said these alone were not enough to stop individuals from trying to profit from their position.

Instilling public officers and government officials with right values was as important because “no system can completely stop a determined cheat,” Lee said in the speech to mark the 60th anniversary of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

Singapore says its system stays honest because of the high salaries it pays its civil servants and ministers, which not only attracts the best minds but also removes the temptation for bribes. Singapore ministers are the highest paid politicians in the world. Lee’s annual salary is S$3.1 million ($2.4 million), five times President Barack Obama’s pay check of $400,000.

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