Corruption: 32-year low, but many high profile cases?

Photo: Victor/CC BY 2.0Photo: Victor/CC BY 2.0

Corruption hits 32-year low

I refer to the article “Corruption cases hit 32-year low in 2016” (Straits Times, Apr 13).

It states that “The number of cases tackled by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) last year was the lowest in 32 years.

The bureau received 808 complaints – including some that were not related to corruption – down from 877 in 2015. Of these, 118, or 14.6 per cent, were registered for investigation. This is the lowest number since 1984.

Most of the corruption complaints that were not pursued contained insufficient, vague or unsubstantiated information.

 

I would like to applaud the CPIB for its great work over the last 32 years in eradicating corruption in Singapore.

As to “Mr Wong said most of the cases investigated by the CPIB were from the private sector. They accounted for 85 per cent of all cases registered for investigation last year – down by 4 percentage points from 2015.

Public sector increased from 11 to 15% “is not significant” 

The remaining 15 per cent came from the public sector. Although this was a slight increase from the 11 per cent recorded in 2015, the CPIB noted that due to the small numbers, the 4 percentage point increase “is not significant”.

Many “high profile” cases? 

There were 104 individuals convicted of corruption offences last year: 100 were private-sector employees, and the remaining four were from the public sector” – whilst only “15 per cent of the cases registered for investigation came from the public sector” – the news over the last year or so, may highlight the public outroar and disquiet over several high profile cases involving “(perceived) public money” which may be classified as from the private sector.

For example,

… the City Harvest Church (CHC) case involving a reported $50 million

… the alleged corruption of the General Manager of Ang Mo Kio town council

… 1MDB scandal’s funds traced via Singapore

… Ex-union leader (ex MP) Phey Yew Kok gets 5 years’ jail for CBT

The magnitude and arguably blatantness of such cases do not bode well for Singapore’s reputation, as well as the public’s trust and confidence in our “non-corrupt” system.

Although we are at a 32-year low – we should not be complacent.

Statistics

For example, arguably some possible statistics that may be of concern could be that

… the number of complaints increased by about 10 per cent from 736 in 2014 to 808 in 2016

… the ratio of cases registered for investigation to “complaints received” decreased by about 5 per cent from about 20 per cent in 2012 ( 179 divided by 909) to about 15 per cent in 2016 (118 divided by 808)

… the yearly clearance rate decreased by 6 per cent from 86 per cent in 2015 to 80 per cent in 2016

… increase of 4 per cent in public sector corruption cases from 11 to 15 per cent (“Due to the small numbers, the increase of 4% from previous year is not significant”).

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong
Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.