SINGAPORE (AFP) -Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has unveiled stiffer measures against corruption after high-profile graft scandals in the last two years that have tarnished Singapore’s reputation for clean government.
Lee said a one-stop corruption reporting centre will be set up, the manpower of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) will be increased and procurement laws will be reviewed.
Singapore fell two spots to seventh place in global watchdog Transparency International’s 2014 index of perceived corruption released last month, but it was still ranked as the cleanest Asian country.
Denmark topped the list.
“We can guess and surmise that it could have something to do and must have something to do with the high profile cases that we have seen in the last couple of years,” Lee said in a speech to civil servants posted on his Facebook page late Tuesday.
The CPIB was rocked in 2013 after a senior official, Edwin Yeo Seow Hiang, was found to have misappropriated Sg$1.76 million ($1.3 million) worth of government funds to finance his gambling habit.
The same year, Peter Lim, former chief of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), was jailed for six months for receiving sexual favours from a female executive of a supplier company in return for business advantages.
The former head of the narcotics police was cleared of similar charges after a trial that captivated Singapore with its lurid details of sexual liaisons.
Smaller cases of irregularities involving procurement have also surfaced over the past two years.
“These cases hurt our reputation – they hurt our reputation with Singaporeans, they hurt our reputation internationally,” Lee said in his speech.
Large-scale graft cases remain rare in Singapore, a thriving business hub and financial centre, and the government has jealously guarded its reputation for being among the least corrupt in the world.
Singapore pays its civil servants some of the world’s highest government salaries in what it says is a deterrent to corruption.