Tuesday, January 24, 2012

High salaries discourages corruption? A reality check.

Singaporeans woke up this morning to the alarming news that the Chiefs of both the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) have been relieved of their position pending investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

This must have shaken the civil services to the core.

Without presuming guilt of these two guys, but if the suspicions are true that they have engaged in corrupt practices, it must surely raise serious concerns about the validity of the logic that corruption is prevented by paying high salaries. These guys have certainly not been paid peanuts.

To my reckoning, if we use money as the main lure into public service, surely that must attract only those for whom money and more money becomes the driving force for their ambitions. Corruption is fueled by greed, and there is never enough to assuage that thirst.

The most effective way to stem corruption is to have an independent, transparent and effective CPIB, and a vigilant public who is prepared to whistleblow. Our CPIB has done an excellent job so far, thankfully. But if we want our politicians to be free from corruption, then the CPIB must have the freedom to investigate all officials including the cabinet and even the Prime Minister. That the CPIB reports to the Prime Minister's Office does not give it a freehand in performing this critical function. Perhaps this line of reporting should be reviewed? Since we have an elected Presidency, should not the CPIB report to the President, rather than to the Prime Minister?


Anonymous said...

The CPIB was created by LKY when time and circumstances were entirely different from present ones.

He has since brought pretty much everything that helps his political control under the PMO - eg, the judiciary, whose members' tenure depended entirely on him; the Election Dept, etc.

What we need is a series of ombudsmen created that operates independently and transparently answerable only to parliament. This will require changes to the Constitution to enshrine it beyond political influence.

AND ALL THIS POSSIBLE ONLY WHEN WE HAVE A BALANCE OF POWER IN PARLIAMENT. Which means we MUST vote in Opposition Parliamentarians in numbers that would tip the scale against the govt when nec in order to propose and enact laws and amendments which the ruling party can otherwise block if it continues to have a majority in power.

The 'BEST' scenario for us isto have a parliament that is not dominated by any single party. 'Ideally' there should be a third party smaller and two major contending parties which DEPENDS on the third to form a govt, like in Britain currently.

Untidy and ponderous? Yes, but a life saver really given the propensity for ABUSE as we have been witnessing for decades if any single party dominates parliament absolutely.

The opportunity to make this a reality is right before us in the near future. Singaporeans must wise up and stop being apathetic or indifferent to issues that practically determine our very survival in the years ahead.

gigamole said...

"AND ALL THIS POSSIBLE ONLY WHEN WE HAVE A BALANCE OF POWER IN PARLIAMENT. Which means we MUST vote in Opposition Parliamentarians ...."

That's certainly one solution, though opposition should not expect to get into parliament just based on that argument, without proving their quality. Unfortunately they haven't done enough yet to show they can be effective alternatives. MP Yaw Shin Leong certainly hasn't done any credit to the opposition team.

Until the opposition becomes a credible force, a politically neutral ombudsman is required. The closest we have to that is the elected Presidency, I am afraid.