SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Transport Minister S Iswaran’s monthly salary has been reduced to S$8,500 until further notice as he was relieved of his ministerial duties, confirmed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Parliament on Wednesday (2 Aug).
This move comes in light of an ongoing investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) involving Minister Iswaran.
PM Lee revealed that the reduction in Iswaran’s pay aligns with the current civil service practice for such rare incidents involving ministers, as there is no established rule or precedent on how to execute an interdiction on a political office holder.
“The specific details in Minister Iswaran’s case generally align with how the civil service would deal with a senior officer in a similar situation. However, this was my decision as PM, because the political contexts for a minister and a civil servant being investigated and interdicted are different,” he explained.
It’s noteworthy that ministerial salaries were last adjusted in 2012 and, at the benchmark level, a minister’s monthly salary stands at S$55,000, translating to an annual salary of S$1,100,000. The fixed portion of this salary is S$715,000, with the rest being variable.
PM Lee informed Parliament that the CPIB had come across information regarding Minister Iswaran that warranted further investigation and notified him of this on 29 May. The CPIB then independently pursued this lead further.
On 5 July, the Director of CPIB briefed the Prime Minister on the findings, explaining that a formal interview with Minister Iswaran was required to advance the investigation. PM Lee approved this on 6 July. Five days later, on 11 July, Minister Iswaran was brought in by the CPIB and was subsequently released on bail.
PM Lee instructed Minister Iswaran to take a leave of absence pending the completion of the investigation. The minister will remain in Singapore during this period and will be denied access to any official resources and government buildings.
During his absence, other Members of Parliament from his West Coast constituency will also take up his MP duties at West Coast GRC.
While the investigation is ongoing, PM Lee cautioned against speculation and conjecture. He underscored the importance of allowing the CPIB to conduct the investigation fully, thoroughly, and independently.
“When the investigation is completed, the CPIB will submit its findings to the Attorney-General’s Chambers, which will decide how to proceed. Whichever way the facts come out, the case will be taken to its logical conclusion. That has always been our way,” PM Lee asserted.
The CPIB had earlier revealed on 14 July that Transport Minister S. Iswaran was arrested on 11 July, following a notice of arrest served to billionaire businessman Ong Beng Seng for an investigation involving Iswaran.
Both Ong and Iswaran have been released on bail, with Iswaran’s passport confiscated. The amount of bail for Iswaran was not disclosed, but it is known that Ong was granted bail of $100,000.
The exact details and nature of the corruption case involving the two high-profile figures remain undisclosed, and the CPIB has not provided any further details.
In response to queries from Hougang SMC MP Dennis Tan, PM Lee reveals that while the ministerial salary for Iswaran was cut to S$8,500, his MP pay remains untouched.