Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from Today Online Ooi Boon Keong

Singapore has been placed seventh among the least corrupted places scoring a 84/100 by an international corruption index. The country may saw an improvement in perceived corruption standing according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, but this is largely due to a single-party system dominating the legislative in Singapore.

Since independence, and particularly in recent years under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, legalised corruption is becoming more brazen with the Constitution even re-written to suit the ruling party’s political agenda. In a sophisticated coordination between a fictitious survey, government-controlled media, academic masquerading as “experts” and the PAP-infested Parliament, racism seeped into Singapore politics with a new ruling that the next Presidential Election is only opened to the Malay race. In fact, this move was not initiated by the Malay race and the Malay population in Singapore are largely against the ruling. Many Malay Singaporeans saw it an insult that they have been conveniently used as a political token by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to exclude potent presidential candidate Dr Tan Cheng Bock. The ruling also resulted in many Singaporeans wrongly impressed that the Malay race need such exclusion to gain positions of influence in Singapore.

In the eyes of the ruling party, corruption can be prevented. Through million dollar salaries that is. The Prime Minister himself is paid S$2.2 million a year – four times higher that of the US President. The ministers themselves weren’t too far off, each pocketing S$1.1 million a year from the national coffers.

If corruption cannot be prevented or legalised, well, any wrongdoing would still be accepted with “honest intent”. Questioning the intentions of Singapore ministers would only amount to defamation lawsuits or the enforcement of the newly-legislated Protection from Harassment Act.

In addition to whitewashing corruption, the ruling party shows Singaporeans what is not corruption. Conflict of interests is not corruption, otherwise the employees of managing agent CPA Facilities Management who “double-hat” (in PAP MP Baey Yam Keng’s words) as town council managers could have long been jailed. Grassroots leaders whose businesses are solely made off the billion dollar funding of the People’s Association could have long been jailed. The Prime Minister who himself sits as the chairman of sovereign wealth fund company GIC could have long been jailed. Same goes to his wife, Ho Ching, the CEO of Temasek Holdings.

In Singapore, nobody knows what is corruption anymore given that the last convicted corruption case was more than 30 years ago in 1986. Singaporeans living in the island ruled by a climate of fear are also hesitant to use the word “corrupt” in the same sentence as any of the aforementioned names. It must be the Transparency International organisation that is corrupted to not give a 100/100 for Singapore’s efforts. It must be corruption that there are 6 other countries who are lesser corrupted as compared to Singapore, and it must be corruption that they are not single-party authoritarian states.