On Tuesday (16 January), Transport Minister S Iswaran tendered his resignation from Parliament and the People’s Action Party (PAP) following he handed 27 charges in court.
According to a statement from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Iswaran formally resigned as a Cabinet Minister and PAP member after receiving notice of the charges from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).
Additionally, Iswaran stepped down as a Member of Parliament (MP) for West Coast GRC.
PM Lee disclosed, “On 17 January, Mr Iswaran further informed me that he would return all money received by way of salary as minister and allowances as MP from the commencement of the CPIB’s investigations in July 2023.”
In a statement posted on his Facebook account, Iswaran reiterated his innocence, vehemently rejecting all allegations.
He expressed his focus on clearing his name. In addition, He also pledged to return all salary as Minister and MP allowances received since the start of the CPIB’s investigations in July 2023.
Iswaran explained that returning the funds was a decision made by him and his family based on their belief in doing what is morally right.
“We cannot in all good conscience keep the monies when I was unable, on account of the investigations, to discharge my duties as a Minister and Member of Parliament in that period. ”
The CPIB’s discovery of incriminating information against Iswaran was first indicated to Prime Minister Lee on 29 May 2023.
A formal interview with Iswaran was deemed necessary by CPIB’s Director and was approved by the Prime Minister on 6 July 2023, leading to Iswaran’s subsequent arrest five days later.
As the investigation continues, Minister Iswaran has been restricted from leaving Singapore and accessing official government resources and buildings.
His ministerial salary has been reduced to S$8,500, although he continues to receive his annual Member of Parliament allowance of S$192,500 (approximately US$143,252).
Before Iswaran’s recent resignation, Non-constituency MP Hazel Poa from the Progress Singapore Party submitted a motion in September 2023 to suspend Iswaran.
The motion aimed to address Iswaran’s receipt of the MP allowance during the ongoing CPIB investigation, a period in which he was not carrying out official duties.
In addition, Ms Poa also introduces a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act 1962, which seeks to provide Parliament with the power to back-pay the MP allowance that was withheld from an MP who has been suspended from the service of Parliament.
Regrettably, Singapore’s PAP-dominated Parliament rejected Ms Poa’s motion on 19 September last year.
During the debate, Ms Poa argued that this suspension is necessary to ensure the prudent use of taxpayers’ money, as allowing a suspended MP to continue drawing their full allowance during an investigation can be financially detrimental if they are later found guilty.
Ms Poa stated that PSP believed that the suspension, coupled with the provision for retroactive payment to Mr Iswaran if he is cleared of wrongdoing, represents a firm and equitable approach to addressing the matter.
Hazel Poa advocated for the responsible use of taxpayer money and accountability in Parliamentary suspension
In her address, Hazel Poa emphasized the primary objective of her Private Member’s Bill: to grant Parliament the authority to authorize the retroactive payment of allowances to suspended MPs.
She said Minister Iswaran no longer performs his duties as an MP, whether in Parliament or his constituency.
She contends that the motion put forward by the Leader of the House does not address this concern; instead, it advocates maintaining the current status quo.
Poa maintains that it is PSP’s position that an MP or minister under investigation for corruption, with suspended official duties, should be placed on unpaid leave until the investigation or legal case concludes.
She highlights that if Mr Iswaran is innocent, there is no difference in outcome between suspending and not suspending him.
However, if he is found guilty, there is a significant difference. Suspending him from Parliament would result in the loss of his allowance, while taxpayers would save on revenue.
This demonstrates that suspension leads to a more fiscally responsible outcome. Poa emphasizes that Mr Iswaran would receive reduced pay but still draw his full MP allowance.
In response, Indranee Rajah, the Leader of the House, presented a counter-motion, advocating that the House should only address concerns about Minister S. Iswaran after the ongoing investigations conclude.
Ms Indranee underscored the importance of consistently applying “fairness and principles” to all MPs under investigation, rather than treating cases in isolation.
Indranee questioned whether the suspension proposal should extend to other MPs under investigation, such as Workers’ Party MPs with ongoing court case.
Arguing that it is premature to take any action regarding Mr Iswaran at this stage because the outcome of the investigation is unknown, and there isn’t sufficient information to make an informed decision.
Indranee’s motion was approved by the PAP-dominated Parliament and received support from the Workers’ Party as well.
MSF Chief urges immediate ceasefire in Gaza, highlights dire impact on children
Leong Mun Wai steps down as PSP Secretary-General over POFMA directive received
Carousell halts sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets to combat scams
MHA: Singaporean influencers issued advisories over Gaza conflict content
Samlit executives investigated for suspected fraudulent business operations
Singapore Airshow faces criticism over recurring traffic and transportation issues
1M65 founder est. S$100k loss in interest from CPF Special Account closure for aged 55+
Singapore authorities heighten vigilance as Zika signals persist in Boon Lay Place
SDP Chief Dr Chee mulls legal challenge against govt’s stance amid POFMA spree
SSG and NEA defend ‘washroom cleaning’ course on SkillsFuture amid online bewilderment
SAESL’s US$180M investment to bring 500 job opportunities in new aerospace facilities
UOB junior staff to get a one-off extra month’s bonus to cope with rising living costs
Singapore2 weeks ago
PM Lee encourages more births in the year of the dragon amid declining fertility rates
Featured1 week ago
PA surveys community & govt confidence amid pending general election
Singapore2 weeks ago
Singapore surpasses nursing recruitment target in 2023 amidst high attrition rates
Comments1 week ago
PAP Marcus Loh accuses WP’s MP of alleged dishonesty on debate about reserves
Civil Society1 week ago
Singaporeans stand firm in support for Palestine amidst police scrutiny
Civil Society1 week ago
At least 9 individuals summoned by police over Palestine solidarity activities on 2 Feb
Community2 weeks ago
Connectivity struggles in Tengah town prompt online user discussion
Singapore5 days ago
Kenneth Jeyaretnam issued 6th POFMA direction over Ridout Road saga