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122 CORRUPTION CONTROL IN SINGAPORE Koh Teck Hin * I. INTRODUCTION The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is the sole agency responsible for combating corruption in Singapore. CPIB was founded in 1952, even before Singapore gained independence from the British. It is one of the oldest agencies in the world dedicated to fighting corruption, and we developed over the past 58 years to our current state today. On the whole, the overall strategic approa
  122 CORRUPTION CONTROL IN SINGAPORE Koh Teck Hin *  I. INTRODUCTION The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is the sole agency responsible for combating corruption in Singapore. CPIB was founded in 1952, even before Singapore gained independence from the British. It is one of the oldest agencies in the world dedicated to fighting corruption, and we developed over the past 58 years to our current state today.On the whole, the overall strategic approach to fighting corruption applies across the board, with no distinction made on whether it is petty corruption or high level corruption. No exception is made for anyone and there are no ‘black areas’ where the law cannot deal with. In our experience, the same commitment to action is necessary in order to be successful in curbing corruption at all levels. II. CORRUPTION SITUATION 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.For a small city state, it was therefore vital of Singapore to control corruption for our national survival. It was necessary in order to provide a conducive climate and a level playing field to spur economic growth. It is a competitive advantage to attract foreign businesses to invest in our land.Corruption control has become a strategic tenet of our system of governance. The smooth conduct of government affairs had to be grounded on a rational basis, with clear rules for all to follow. It provides the predictability and confidence for the public to rely on the government to discharge its duty without bias. There had to be no room to tolerate those who hope for windfalls from powerful friends or from greasing contacts in high places. For Singapore to succeed, we had to operate on a meritocratic principle, where people can see that rewards are tied to the efforts that they put in, and not through corrupt means.There was much reform required. The law was strengthened. Rigorous enforcement took place. Government administration was improved. All these provided the impetus for Singapore’s transformation from a corruption-infested city state to the present state we are in, where we enjoy a good reputation worldwide. Singapore has been the third least corrupt country in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, and has been the least corrupt country as ranked by Political Economic & Risk Consultancy (PERC) for the past 10 years. The mood and resolve to vigorously curb corruption was echoed by the government as early as in 1960 when Parliament declared that it: “(was) determined to take all possible steps to see that all legislative and administrative measures are taken to reduce the opportunities of corruption, to make its detection easier and to deter and punish severely those who are susceptible to it and who engage in it shamelessly.”The strong anti-corruption refrain was heard again and again, including this statement made in 1979 by then PM Lee Kuan Yew, which best explains the need for a corruption-free Singapore: “The moment key *  Deputy Director (Operations), Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), Singapore.  123 THE 13TH INTERNATIONAL TRAINING COURSE ON THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESPONSE TO CORRUPTION VISITING EXPERTS’ PAPERS leaders are less than incorruptible, less than stern in demanding high standards, from that moment the structure of administrative integrity will weaken, and eventually crumble. Singapore can survive only if Ministers and senior officers are incorruptible and efficient [….] Only when we uphold the integrity of the administration can the economy work in a way which enables Singaporeans to clearly see the nexus between hard work and high rewards.”And again emphasized by the then PM Mr Goh Chok Tong in Parliament in 1993 when he said: “[…..] I have every intention to make sure that Singapore remains corruption free. I will not let standards drop. And everyone should know that corruption in any form will not be tolerated. I expect all Ministers, all MPs and all public officers to set good examples for others to follow …”This is still the same position today and the will of government to stamp out corruption wherever it may be is still very strong. III. POLITICAL WILL These sentiments reflect the determination and political will for the fight against corruption. Political will is a key ingredient in the transformation effort from Singapore’s corruption infested past as it forms that all important sub-structure, upon which all the super-structures of anti-corruption work rest. It provides the soil and the nutrient which allows the seeds of anti-corruption work to germinate and grow. The government has matched its words with deeds - it mobilized the public, and the entire civil service to fight corruption. The year 1975 marked a major turning point in the fight against corruption. The Minister of State Wee Toon Boon, then a serving Minister in the Government of the ruling party, was convicted of corruption. Such results demonstrated to the public the resolve of the government to keep Singapore clean. And this has garnered the public support in the ongoing fight against corruption. With the efforts put in and with public support over the years, corruption was thus brought under control. IV. FRAMEWORK OF CORRUPTION CONTROL 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 A cts (or laws)- Effective Anti Corruption A gency- Effective A djudication (or punishment) and- Efficient Government A dministration. TTEEMMPPLLEE OOFFCCOOR R R R UUPPTTIIOONN CCOONNTTR R OOLL EF F E CTI   VEEF F E CTI   VEAD J  UDI   CATI   O N EF F E CTI   VEA CT S  (   ORLA W S  )   POLITICAL WILL EF F I   CI  E NTADMI   NI   S TRATI   O N  124 RESOURCE MATERIAL SERIES No.83 A. Effective Acts (Laws) Effective laws provide the basis for the fight against corruption. The law must define corruption offences and their punishments and the powers of enforcement against it. As society and the environment changes all the time, it is necessary to review the law periodically to ensure that it is up to date. The powers of enforcement must be well provisioned so that they will have sufficient force and strength.In Singapore, the principal law is the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). This governs the primary offences of corruption and the powers of the enforcement agency, which is CPIB. In addition, there is the Corruption, Drugs Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA) which provides for the seizure and forfeiture of proceeds which a person convicted of corruption cannot satisfactorily account for. The PCA was enacted in 1960 to replace the previous Prevention of Corruption Ordinance. Since then, the Act had undergone numerous amendments to increase the powers of investigation of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Officers, enhance punishments for corruption and to plug loopholes to prevent exploitation by criminals.The law must support law enforcement with a cutting edge. This is vital as corruption offences are particularly difficult offences to deal with. Unlike general crime where there is a victim who tells us everything that happened, in corruption offences, both the giver and the receiver are guilty parties who have the motivation to hide and not tell the truth. This makes investigation and evidence gathering more challenging. To be successful, the law must provide sufficient teeth for law enforcement. The principal law we use is the Prevention of Corruption Act. The following are the distinctive features which may differ from anti-corruption laws in other countries:(i) The Act also allows CPIB to investigate corruption in both the public and private sectors and we can deal with both the giver and the receiver. We have dealt with cases in the private sector since the beginning. In some countries, anti-corruption agencies do not deal with private sector. It is of strategic importance for Singapore to keep Singapore companies clean because if not, other countries will not want to trade with Singapore and they will not want to invest money in Singapore. We also deal with givers of bribes. If we don’t, they may continue to give bribes and escape punishment and this will worsen the corruption situation due to the demand-supply dynamics.(ii) There is a presumption clause – presumption of corruption when a public officer is found to have received bribes. What this means is that a public officer charged in court has the duty to explain to the court that what he or she received was not received corruptly. If he or she fails to explain to the satisfaction of the court, he or she will be presumed to have received the money corruptly. Of course, we do not just depend on this to secure conviction but we will bring all the evidence we have to court and this presumption clause is an additional help for the prosecution.(iii) Next, an acceptor of a bribe will be considered guilty even if he or she, in fact, had no power, right or opportunity to return a favour to the bribe giver. This came about because some corrupt offenders took bribes and then were unable to deliver the expected favour. Even so, they should not escape punishment.(iv) The Act forbids the use of customary practices, for example, giving/accepting of ‘red packets’ in Chinese New Year as an excuse for giving/accepting bribes. No one can go to court and be excused by saying that the bribe, disguised as a ‘red packet’, is goodwill money and nothing illegal. In the past, CPIB was very busy during Chinese New Year and had to look out for bribes disguised as goodwill money. Nowadays, with the enforcement actions taken, the public knows and offenders will not try to use the festive occasion as a camouflage for bribe taking. (v) The Act also empowers the Court to order bribe receivers to pay a penalty equal to the amount of bribe received apart from punishment in the form of fines and/or imprisonment terms. This means if accused took $1 million dollars, he or she has to surrender back that amount. This emphasized the principle that the accused ought not to enjoy any benefit from any corrupt activity. (vi) When a person is found to have committed corruption offence, the Principal could recover the amount of the bribe as a civil debt. An example is the manager of a multi-national company (MNC)  125 THE 13TH INTERNATIONAL TRAINING COURSE ON THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESPONSE TO CORRUPTION VISITING EXPERTS’ PAPERS convicted of a corruption offence for receiving kickbacks for contracts he granted to others. He was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay a penalty of about $300,000, being the total of bribes received by him. After the sentencing, the MNC commenced civil action under the Prevention of Corruption Act to recover the bribes from the Manager. The manager appealed to the Court of Appeal against the claim on the ground that he had already paid penalty to the State for the bribes he had received and he could not be liable to pay the claim to the MNC, otherwise it would be tantamount to making him pay twice for the same bribes. However, his appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The court ruled that this was not double jeopardy and the law allowed for it. The manager is thus still liable to pay the MNC.(vi) The Act renders Singapore citizens liable for punishment for corrupt offences committed outside Singapore and to be dealt with as if the offences had been committed in Singapore. We have dealt with cases where Singaporeans commit corruption abroad and prosecuted them in Singapore. Besides the PCA, there was enactment of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, CDSA in short, in 1999. The principle for the Act was to ensure that corruption does not pay. It also covers the confiscation of benefits not only from corruption but also drug offences and other serious crimes. The CDSA provides the Court with powers to confiscate pecuniary resources and properties when a person is convicted of a corruption offence and cannot satisfactorily account for those resources to be confiscated. The objective is to ensure that the perpetrators will not benefit from corruption.The Parliament has also enacted the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act to ensure that Members of Parliament will not benefit from a debate in the House in which he or she has a pecuniary interest. It has also enacted The Political Donation Act to ensure candidates standing for political election declare donations they received. Other statutes regulating Government bodies have also incorporated provisions which deter corruption. One such provision is in the Customs Act which specifically provides for penalties for receiving bribes, and presumes any monies in the possession of a Customs Officer which cannot be accounted for to be corruptly obtained. B. Effective Enforcement Having tough laws is no guarantee that there is effective enforcement. If there are tough laws but lax enforcement, corruption will still flourish because the corrupted escape detection and investigation. The situation will be like having a good battle plan but poor troops. It is therefore crucial to devote priority and attention to setting up an effective enforcement agency.In Singapore, CPIB is the only agency empowered to investigate corruption offences. Any other law enforcement agency which comes across or receives reports on corruption will have to hand over the case to CPIB.CPIB has independence of action. We can investigate any person or corporation in government or the private sector, however high in the hierarchy they may be. CPIB reports directly to the Prime Minister so as to block any undue interference from any quarters and to ensure that CPIB favours no one particular individual, department or agency but operates without fear or favour, regardless of colour, creed or social status. In fact, CPIB's independence of action was guaranteed by the Constitution, with provision for the elected President of Singapore to open the doors for investigation to proceed should the government of the day block CPIB. Our Bureau slogan “Swift and Sure” is the message to all corrupt offenders that there will be swift action, certainty of results and justice will take its course. CPIB has always endeavoured to be a crack investigative agency, purpose-driven and committed fully to our mission of “combat(ting) corruption through swift and sure action”. Swift action suggests promptness of action, speed and timeliness while sure action suggests certainty of action, resoluteness and result orientedness.Having a strong capability is easier said than done. Our current success does not guarantee future
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