Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Singapore's anti-corruption Strategy

 Since Singapore attained self-government in 1959, corruption control has been top of the government agenda. When we took over from the British, corruption was prevalent. The Prevention of Corruption Ordinance was weak. Corruption was not a seizable offence and the powers of the anti-corruption bureau were inadequate. Public officers were poorly paid and the population was less educated, did not know their rights and often the way to get things done was through bribery

Singapore was named fifth-least corrupt country according to Transparency International's 2012 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

 The index — which include 176 countries around the world — is ranked based on how corrupt their administrative and political institutions are perceived to be on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) and a 100 (very clean).

So why has Singapore been so successful in stamping out crooked behavior, despite its history? 

Tough laws

  • Many point to the country's incredibly stringent, almost draconian penal code. Jaywalking, littering, and spitting can get you arrested, failing to flush a public toilet or chewing gum in the open can each lead to a fine, and vandalism is punished by caning.
  • Laws against corruption are tough as well. The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau works directly with the Prime Minister's office and wields significant power; the Bureau can arrest individuals without a warrant and execute search and seizure orders carte blanche if there are "reasonable grounds to believe that any delay in obtaining the search warrant is likely to frustrate the object of the search."
  • Those accused of corruption usually face a 5-year jail term and up to S$100,000 ($80,000) fine, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wants to add even more penalties as a form of deterrence, according to the Associated Press. 
  • Lee made it clear that "it's far better to suffer the embarrassment and keep the system clean for the long-term, than to pretend that nothing has gone wrong and to let the rot spread," after a rare corruption scandal surfaced this year.
  • Some argue that Singapore's tough legal code have created a society that resembles an Orwellian dystopia, in which stringent laws keep the population in line and society sparkly clean.
  • But the results are noticeable, as Singapore has one of the lowest crime and corruption rates in the world. 
  • The Singapore government keeps the salaries of politicians and civil servants high in order prevent talented, honest Singaporeans from leaving and to stifle the economic incentive to engage in corrupt activity.

Punishment, incarceration, and deterrence

There are four 'lessons' that can be learned by other Asian countries from Singapore's example:
  1. Political will is the key ingredient for success
  2. The anti-corruption agency must be independent from the police and political control
  3. The anti-corruption agency must be incorruptible
  4. Minimize corruption by tackling its major sources: low salaries, ample opportunities, and poor policing


With a strong political will as the foundation, the framework of corruption control consists of four pillars, consisting of 4As, as follows: -
 -Effective Anti Corruption Acts (or laws)
 - Effective Anti Corruption Agency
 - Effective Adjudication (or punishment) and 
- Efficient Government Administration.