SINGAPORE – Singapore’s progress depends on keeping the country clean and corruption-free, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (June 6).
While the courts, government, civil servants and the police must maintain the highest levels of professionalism and integrity, the public also plays an important role in ensuring corruption does not become a social norm, 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,” Mr Lee said.
He spoke at the official opening of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau’s (CPIB) new Corruption Reporting and Heritage Centre at Whitley Road.
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The centre has been operational since Jan 9. It provides another avenue for people to lodge complaints in person, apart from the CPIB headquarters in Lengkok Bahru.
Mr Lee used his speech to reiterate Singapore’s firm stance against corruption.
Singaporeans demand and expect a clean system, and do not condone giving or accepting bribes, he said.
People here also trust that the law will be applied transparently and fairly to all.
He added that the country also has a professional public service that is paid “fair and realistic wages” benchmarked against the private sector, which reduces the temptation to accept bribes.
“We have a system that works, and we must keep it that way,” he said.
This is unlike many counties, where corruption is accepted as the “natural way of things” and impossible to eradicate, he noted.
Turning to the new CPIB centre, he said it shows the Government treats complaints on corruption seriously, and will investigate any case that is flagged.
He called on members of the public to inform the CPIB if they suspect corrupt behaviour, pointing out that many successful investigations arise from such tipoffs.
“(The CRHC) will reinforce the message that every Singaporean plays a role in fighting corruption,” said Mr Lee.
On Tuesday, he toured the centre and gave out prizes to students for a short story writing competition organised by the CPIB.
The new facility also houses a heritage gallery, where visitors can learn about the CPIB’s history through quizzes played on interactive touch-screens, and old case artefacts.
Since it was set up in 1952 by the colonial government to weed out corruption, the bureau has kept such crimes low.
Last year, Singapore was ranked the 7th least corruption country in the world, according to graft watchdog Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
CPIB director Wong Hong Kuan said the new centre creates “an accessible space for the public to report and learn about corruption”.
CPIB officer Thomas Cheo agrees that the new centre will help educate many Singaporeans about the bureau’s work.
“This is a good step forward, having something like this here, people can come and understand the work that we do,” he said.