The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) of Singapore has finalized its investigation into Transport Minister S. Iswaran, bringing a high-profile case one step closer to legal resolution.
The case has now been referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) for further action.
This update was provided in Parliament on Tuesday (9 Jan) by Education Minister Chan Chun Sing in response to a parliamentary question from Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa.
Representing the Prime Minister, Mr Chan, who is also the Minister in charge of Public Service, emphasized the public’s keen interest in the case and assured that “this case will be put through the due legal process.” He described the CPIB’s investigation as both “robust and thorough.”
The investigation began following Mr Iswaran’s arrest by CPIB on 11 July 2023, after which he was released on bail. In mid-July, CPIB also confirmed the arrest of billionaire businessman Ong Beng Seng as part of the same corruption probe. Mr Ong, renowned for bringing Formula One to Singapore, was likewise released on bail.
Since his arrest, Mr Iswaran has been directed to take a leave of absence from his duties and is now constrained to remain in Singapore during the ongoing investigation, with restricted access to official resources and government buildings.
His ministerial pay has been reduced to S$8,500 although he continues to receive his Member of Parliament allowance of around S$192,500 annually.
In a recent interview with The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao on January 8, National Development Minister Desmond Lee expressed his concerns about the impact of this probe on West Coast GRC, particularly highlighting its significant effects on the West Coast ward overseen by Mr Iswaran.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a Parliament session on 2 August 2023, disclosed that the CPIB had found evidence necessitating further investigation into Mr Iswaran’s activities, first informing the Prime Minister on 29 May last year.
On 5 July, CPIB’s Director briefed the Prime Minister, stressing the necessity for a formal interview with Iswaran to progress the inquiry. PM Lee sanctioned this on 6 July.
The corruption investigation stems from an earlier, unrelated inquiry, though specific details regarding the allegations against Mr Iswaran have not been disclosed.
Mr Iswaran’s political journey began with his election debut in 1997 when he was part of the four-member team of the People’s Action Party (PAP) in the West Coast GRC.
Prior to his suspension, he was in charge of the GRC’s West Coast ward.
In the wake of the 2011 General Election, Mr Iswaran’s hard work was acknowledged as he ascended to the full ministerial role in the Cabinet. He was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs, and Second Minister for Trade and Industry.
Following the 2015 General Election, Mr Iswaran embarked on a new journey as he gave up his three positions in October 2015 to assume the responsibility of Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), serving alongside Mr Lim Hng Kiang, who held the role of Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade).
On 1 May 2018, Mr Iswaran diversified his portfolio by becoming the Minister for Communications and Information whilst continuing his role as Minister In-Charge of Trade Relations in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (Singapore).
After securing his position in the 2020 General Election, Mr Iswaran held on to his role as Minister in the Ministry of Communications and Information.
Later, following a Cabinet reshuffle on 15 May 2021, Mr Iswaran expanded his role by becoming the Minister for Transport, while still maintaining his appointment as Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations.
The last instance of a Cabinet minister being involved in a CPIB probe occurred in November 1986, when then National Development Minister Teh Cheang Wan was investigated for allegedly accepting bribes. Mr Teh committed suicide before he could be charged in court.
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