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S Iswaran resigns as Minister, MP, and PAP member amid corruption charges

Transport Minister S Iswaran resigned from Parliament and the People’s Action Party after facing 27 charges. He pledged to return all salary and allowances received since the start of the CPIB’s investigations in July 2023.

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SINGAPORE:  Transport Minister S Iswaran tendered his resignation from Parliament and the People’s Action Party (PAP) following he handed 27 charges in court on Thursday (18 Jan).

According to a statement from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Iswaran formally resigned as a Cabinet Minister and PAP member on 16 Jan, 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.”

Consequently, with his resignation, Iswaran will no longer receive government salary or allowances, added PM Lee.

PM Lee emphasized the government’s commitment to addressing the case rigorously within the confines of the law and maintaining Singapore’s reputation for integrity.

“I am determined to uphold the integrity of the party and the government, and our reputation for honesty and incorruptibility. Singaporeans expect no less.”

Iswaran charged with 27 offences including corruption charges

S Iswaran was charged in the State Courts on Thursday (18 Jan) morning with  27 offences, including corruption, receiving gratification as a public servant and obstructing justice.

The 61-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges, signalling his intent to contest them in a trial.

The court heard that the charges included two counts of corruption, 24 counts related to receiving items from individuals with whom he had business dealings in his capacity as a public servant, and one charge for obstructing the course of justice.

Regarding the two corruption charges, Iswaran is accused of receiving approximately $145,434 in gratification from billionaire Ong Beng Seng in September 2022.

This alleged inducement was to promote Ong’s interests in connection with a contract between the Singapore Grand Prix and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

Mr Iswaran is defended by his team of lawyers, including Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, Mr Navin Thevar, Ms Sheiffa Safi Shirbeeni and Mr Rajvinder Singh from Davinder Singh Chambers.

The latest development follows an extensive investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), which began in July last year.

Following the conclusion of the investigation into Minister Iswaran by CPIB, the case was referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) for further action.

This update was first disclosed by Education Minister Chan Chun Sing last week, responding to a parliamentary question from Progress Singapore Party’s Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa.

Minister Chan, representing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, assured the public of the due legal process in handling the case. He emphasized the “robust and thorough” nature of the CPIB’s investigation, highlighting the government’s commitment to integrity and transparency.

The arrest of Iswaran, which took place on 11 July 2023, also involved billionaire businessman Ong Beng Seng, connected to the same corruption probe.

Following their arrest, both individuals were released on bail. Iswaran was instructed to take a leave of absence and had his passport confiscated.

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,  Iswaran has been restricted from leaving Singapore and accessing official government resources and buildings.

Singapore’s first ministerial criminal charge

This case marks a historical first in Singapore, being the first instance of a minister being charged with a criminal offence while in office.

Mr Iswaran’s political journey began with his election debut in 1997 when he was part of the four-member team of the PAP in the West Coast GRC.

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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Truly the Kaki Son’s reign has been full of bad policies, poor leadership, Ownself Praise Ownself, Scandals, Non-deliveries, and now also Corruption. Well, a legacy is a legacy, hor.

Incorrupt just means never been caught or found guilty in the court of law.

Some people who had also received extra discounts from buying properties from OBS but were never charged. So still incorrupt!

This OBS…..tsk tsk!

What is disquieting is there is no mention with regards to Ong Beng Seng. If indeed Iswaran received bribes from OBS, he (OBS) should also be charged. I would wait for more information to come out and perhaps wait for the case to be tried in March. I’d rather wait than jump the gun or speculate. But the legal team defending Iswaran is indeed a very formidable one. I wonder how much the lawyers will cost him. I believe a Senior Counsel would probably charge about $600 to $800 an hour. The final cost will probably be in the millions.… Read more »

Dun bullshit lah PM Lee. Need the society to press and press and questions YET we hardly have any information OUT there cos embargoed at Govt then wanna say maintain integrity. Maintain integrity then Loong Loong time will speak up liao … Director of Reality Show fix the narrative then come out and wayang!

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