Singapore minister given 80% salary cut amid corruption probe

Singapore, Aug 2 (EFE).- Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced Wednesday a reduction of more than 80 percent in the salary of the country’s transport minister, investigated for a corruption scandal, the first at that level in decades in the city-state.

Lee said in a parliamentary appearance that Subramaniam Iswaran’s monthly salary would be reduced to SGD8,500 ($6,300) until further notice from about SGD 35,000.

“When there are suspicions or allegations of malpractice, especially when it comes to corruption, there is zero tolerance,” Lee said in Parliament, where he addressed a series of scandals Wednesday that have recently plagued the ruling People’s Action Party.

Singapore is one of the countries in the world that pays its ministers the most, which it says discourages corruption.

Iswaran and Singaporean magnate Ong Ben Seng – initially involved in negotiations to secure the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix – were arrested in mid-July and released on bail for an alleged corruption scandal.

Lee said Wednesday that the investigations continue without revealing details. The island’s opposition also asked whether the government received a request from the United Kingdom concerning former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in relation to a foundation in Singapore with an undisclosed account of GBP400 million.

Cases of corruption at such a high level are rare in the city-state, and the latest ones, remembered today by Lee, go back decades (1996, 1986 and 1979). “We work hard to find the right people. Often they measure up, other times they don’t,” the prime minister said.

Lee said previous cases were managed by the government of Lee Kuan Yew (his father and founder of modern Singapore) “in a transparent manner.”

“The (party) hasn’t changed how it deals with these cases under my tenure, and neither will it under my successor,” he said.

Lee also referred to two other lower-profile scandals, one about the alleged rentals of exclusive homes for below-market prices by Foreign Ministers Vivian Balakrishnan and Interior Minister Shanmugam Kasiviswanathan, and another on extramarital relations between party officials.

Scandals are unusual within the party and add strength to the theory that the formation is losing steam after ruling Singapore since the country’s foundation. The semi-authoritarian and conservative country must hold general elections before November 2025. EFE


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