Former assistant director of the Corrupt Practice Investigation Bureau(CPIB) Edwin Yeo’s $1.7 million misappropriation has proven that high salaries do not stem out corruption. Like former PAP MP Choo Wee Khiang who was jailed 2 weeks for corruption charges, PAP Ministers and MPs are likewise as exposed to corruption as any other ordinary civil servant drawing a fraction of their salaries. Most exposures and scandals relied heavily on whistleblowing, which pretty much means that the present system itself is not comprehensive itself in preventing corruption and there isn’t a watchdog monitoring the usage of resources. In Edwin Yeo’s case, CPIB is going to implement a casino ban(which of course brings the question why are civil servants and appointment holders not given such restrictions in the first place). The ban is a good move in the right direction, and we should consider implementing more austere measures to prevent corruption and nepotism in our appointment holders, the PAP Minister.
Drawing more than a million dollars, the integrity and conduct of PAP Ministers should be of diamond-grade, and in no instances let up of austere. It is amazing how Singapore’s system could rank highly on non-corruption when it doesn’t have preventive measures as comprehensive as those of governments in the West. Nonetheless, the following regulations practiced by other countries are worth adopting:
1) Gambling ban
Both local and overseas gambling dens and casinos. No appointment holders must be allowed to place a single bet.
2) Large transactions to be declared
Existing large purchases or investments exceeding $100,000 must be declared and profiled in a centralized server that is openly accessible to the media and public. The net worth of each Ministers and MPs must also be declared and likewise monitored.
3) State-sponsored benefits to be denied for family members
Scholarships and government grants made commonly available to average citizens should be denied for family members of Ministers and MPs. The remunerations of Ministers are more than sufficient enough of them to see their children through a good education system.
4) Corporate appointments and shareholding before/current/after service
No Ministers should be allowed to own any shares or corporate appointments during his time of service. Before and after service appointments and shareholding must be declared and profiled.
5) Limitation of Premiership to 10 years
No Prime Minister should stay in premiership for more than 2 terms.
6) Constituitionalize a referendum signature to call for fresh elections in a constituency
A referendum signature collection from at least 10% of the citizen population in the particular constituency to call for elections be mandated under the watch of the Electoral Department.
7) Remove Prime Minister’s power over CPIB and Electoral Department
No one single person or party should have control over the CPIB and the Electoral Department.
The rationale of these initiatives is patch the loopholes of the existing framework and hence reinforcing a standard of governance worthy of the trust and resources Singaporeans bestowed to. They are especially highlighted because these areas are most likely subjected to abuse, especially when there are no watchers on the watchdogs. Political sales talk about how robust and dignified our politicians are is not sufficient, we need to design the structure in a way that it not possible of appointment holders to corrupt. Singapore is especially lacking in system design when it comes to governance, partly because the only party with experience have no active interests in rocking the boat out of fear of falling into the water. Ironically, the only way the power-hungry and change-resistant PAP can maintain power is to re-design its system that re-appeals to confidence loss in its ex-supporters.
Like in the past, Singaporeans are thinking “this is the party that assures my prosperity and future well-being in your leadership”, but things are not the way it is. Retirement is non-existent, family-planning is unaffordable, and the livelihood of average Singaporeans are threatened by the influx of foreigners. It has come to a point that Singaporeans have to fight the PAP to ensure they have a chance of survival under, hopefully, the Workers’ Party government in the near future. Also, tussling the PAP out of power is only the first step. The road to a truly first world Singapore is only possible how much of a change the new government can be. And here, we are talking about decades of sacrifices, dedications and creativity by the likes of ordinary citizens both online and offline.