CORRUPTION CONTROL-Lessons to Learn from Singapore?

Vijay K. Saluja
Senior Fellow, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi
Ex Chief Engineer[civil] New Delhi Municipal Council

[On a visit to Singapore]

On 25. 01.2012, in STRAITS TIMES, the prominent newspaper of Singapore, the headlines were` Civil Defence, Narcotic Chiefs in CPIB probe`.Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau[CPIB] are investigating the allegations of `serious personal misconduct`of these two top civil servants who have been removed from their posts & have been suspended from their duties pending disciplinary proceedings`.

The news was broken by a Chinese evening “ Lianhe Wanbao“ which interalia mentioned that the case involved `money & women`

Underlying the seriousness with which the Government viewed the investigations, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Home Affairs issued a statement saying all public officers regardless of position or seniority were expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity & conduct & if officers were found to have abused the trust placed in them, the Government would not hesitate to take firm & decisive action against them.

It was a clear indication of the Singapore Government`s resolve to not let their guards down even though Singapore is ranked very low on the corruption list, internationally.

As was pointed out by a few analysts, subsequently `corruption cases are `almost in inevitable since they involve human frailities but, what is more important is the POLITICAL WILL for ZERO TOLERANCE & the determination to enforce tough anti-corruption laws. The determination to prosecute without fear or favour does enhance Singapore`s reputation for clean governance.

The latest CIPB investigation has come on the back of several recent high profile cases involving civil servants. In November,a former deputy director of Singapore Land Authority & a manager in his department were jailed for 22 years & 15 years for misappropriation of govt funds.

The quick but fair & tough measures in dealing with corruption cases in civil service in Singapore makes it rank, top three or four, in the corruption perception index.

What lessons it has for India, does not need much explaining?

What is needed ,first of all, is zero tolerance for corrupt practices & therefore strong political will to deal with this social monster[corruption] decisively in a given time frame. Investigation have to be quick but fair & dispensation of justice much speedier.

The media will have to play very constructive role instead of launching its own trials.
Scams like 2G, CWG, & many others which are tarnishing the reputation of the country will be things of the past, if culprits are dealt in the same way, Singapore deals with their civil servants & elected representatives, accused of misconduct & corrupt practices.

But for that even our various investigation agencies need to work fearlessly and in a fair & effective manner. Ultimately, the` Parties in Power` will be the clear winners. People vote back the clean governments. Therefore,it is in the interest of the Govt to control corruption for its own longevity.