Singaporean Transport Minister S. Iswaran Charged With Corruption

Singaporean Transport Minister S. Iswaran Charged With Corruption

Singapore’s Transport Minister S. Iswaran was charged with corruption, the latest development in the biggest political scandal to hit the city state in close to four decades. 

Chief prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng read out 27 charges, including corruption and obstructing justice, to Iswaran on Thursday. The minister earlier arrived at the Singapore State Courts, flanked by his legal team. 

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Iswaran pleaded not guilty and his bail was extended. He declined to comment to Bloomberg News about the charges, and his plans as a member of the People’s Action Party, which has governed the country for more than six decades.

He is the first key minister to get embroiled in a graft probe since 1986. He and property tycoon Ong Beng Seng were arrested in July in a case that’s challenged Singapore’s reputation for clean governance at a time when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is seeking to step aside after almost two decades of leading the country.

Read More: A Wave of Scandals Is Testing the Singaporean Government’s Ability to Take Criticism

Ong’s spokesperson declined to comment on the case. 

The anti-corruption agency, which reports directly to Lee, said earlier in January that it completed months of investigations into the case, but didn’t specify at the time what wrongdoing was involved. Lee had instructed Iswaran to take a leave of absence until the investigation was completed.

Iswaran was also barred from official resources and government buildings. His pay was slashed to S$8,500 ($6,320) a month, marking an 82% cut from a starting salary of S$46,750 in Singapore, where government leaders are among the best paid in the world to avoid corruption.

Iswaran and Ong would have interacted over the years as a matter of course, with the minister’s roles in trade and transport intersecting with the property tycoon known for helping bring the Formula One Grand Prix to Singapore. Iswaran has long championed the Singapore F1 night race in his various capacities.

The corruption scandal is one in a series of controversies sending shockwaves through the PAP, which had two lawmakers unexpectedly resigning over an affair. In September, the son of former premier Goh Chok Tong was among the four people charged for false trading offenses.

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