SINGAPORE — The People’s Action Party’s (PAP) values of integrity must never be compromised so that it can “do justice” to the trust that Singaporeans have given it, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday (Nov 5).
Mr Lee, who is also party secretary-general, said that in order to do this, it requires not just keeping every party leader and member clean, but also to keep corrupting influences out of Singapore.
He was addressing over 1,000 PAP members at the Party Awards and Convention held at Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre, where he outlined three priorities for the PAP government: Govern competently, keep clean and win elections.
Mr Lee said that to maintain the trust and support of Singaporeans, it is important for the PAP to not just deliver results as a government, but to uphold the high standards of integrity that Singaporeans have to come to expect of the party.
“This commitment is absolutely non-negotiable,” he said, adding that the party has maintained it for over 60 years by rigorously enforcing discipline and keeping the party clean.
“We have made Singapore one of the cleanest, least corrupt countries, not just in Asia, but in the world,” said Mr Lee.
He acknowledged that things will not always be smooth sailing.
“However strict our discipline, however zealous our enforcement, human nature being what it is, somewhere, sometime, someone will be tempted and will go astray,” he said, noting that the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau had discovered and is currently investigating a case involving a minister.
The anti-graft agency unveiled in July that Transport Minister S Iswaran was arrested and then released on bail, after being brought in to assist in a case the bureau had uncovered.
On Sunday, Mr Lee stressed that at times when the party is tested, it must prove its mettle.
“Put our principles into action, regardless of any embarrassment or political cost. Deal with it without fear or favour, and get to the bottom of the matter,” he said.
“Show Singaporeans and the world that after half a century in government, the PAP’s standards are as high as ever.”
Mr Lee said that Singapore is a small place and has a system that works. If anyone does anything improper, the wrongdoing will come to light sooner or later and “consequences will follow”.
He said that this does not only apply to ministers, and PAP expects the same out of each party member — that they do not abuse their position, accept favours or ask for them.
Mr Lee said that a journalist had asked him whether in promoting family offices and Singapore’s financial industry, the Government is letting standards slip to attract unclean money to come to the country.
This comes after a recent high profile, multi-billion dollar money laundering case came to light earlier this year.
Mr Lee said that his answer to the journalist was “not on your life”.
If standards are let slip, the doubtful characters will spend generously to make themselves appear respectable, and would “cultivate ministers and officials”, donate to good causes, make themselves useful in all sorts of ways.
“Very soon our whole system would be tainted, and then corrupted,” he said.
Mr Lee stressed that the Government will never let the system go corrupt.
“Everybody who does business here, whether you are a non-Singaporean or Singaporean, must know that this is how things work in Singapore,” he said.
“Our integrity and honesty must never be compromised; only in that way can we do justice and uphold the trust that Singaporeans have given us.”