Singapore's transport Minister S. Iswaran resigns amidst corruption chargesin a historic development that has sent shockwaves through the city-state known for its clean governance.
The most extensive corruption investigation to impact Singapore's ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in many years has included the allegations leveled against Iswaran.
The administration has been embroiled in a slew of scandals in the last year that have shaken the nation to its core.
This latest controversy involves a hotel magnate who is famous for hosting the Formula One Grand Prix as well. As far as anyone knows, Iswaran is the first sitting minister of the country to face criminal charges.
Chief Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng announced Thursday in court that Iswaran, whose political career lasted over 30 years, is facing 27 accusations, including obstructing justice and corruption.
The charges allege that he received over 160,000 Singapore dollars in bribes from Malaysian billionaire Ong Beng Seng, a hotel tycoon known for bringing the Formula 1 Grand Prix to Singapore.
The alleged gifts include business class flights, luxury hotel stays, tickets to the F1 Grand Prix, English Premier League matches, and West End musicals. Iswaran pleaded not guilty to all charges and is currently out on bail.
Iswaran was arrested alongside Ong Beng Seng in July, and both have been central figures in Singapore's recent corruption investigations. Ong, the billionaire hotelier and organizer of the Singapore Grand Prix, is also the sole shareholder of the racing event.
Iswaran, who served as an advisor to the Grand Prix's steering committee, faced a total of 24 charges of obtaining gratification as a public servant, two charges of corruption, and one charge of obstructing justice.
Since the investigation began in July, Iswaran has written letters to Lee stating that he would be returning his pay as minister and allowances as a member of Parliament.
I am doing this even though I reject the charges and am innocent. So that there is no doubt, I will not be seeking the return of these monies if, as I strongly believe, I am acquitted.- Singapore's transport Minister S. Iswaran
Singapore, known for its clean governance and currently ranked fifth in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, is now grappling with a rare corruption scandal involving a sitting minister.
Corruption probes involving ministers are infrequent in the country, where officials receive substantial salaries to discourage graft. The last corruption case involving a Singaporean minister occurred in 1986.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong accepted Iswaran's resignation and stated his commitment to upholding the integrity of the party and government.
The scandal comes at a sensitive time for Lee, who plans to step aside after nearly two decades of leadership. Singapore is set to hold general elections in 2025, and the government faces the challenge of rebuilding public trust.
Singapore's Transport Minister S. Iswaran resigns amid corruption charges, a significant setback for the city-state's clean governance reputation.
The resignation, a rare occurrence in Singaporean politics, raises questions about the government's ability to rebuild public trust, especially with general elections looming in 2025. The incident emphasizes the need for transparency and anti-corruption measures.