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Education | Strategic Considerations | Strong Anti-Corruption Law/Administrative Measure

Strong Anti-Corruption Law/Administrative Measure

The anti-corruption law has since been reviewed regularly to ensure that offenders do not escape legal punishment and that corruption does not pay. The amendments to the law so far included :

  • empowering the court to order offenders to pay a penalty equal to the amount of bribe received apart from punishment in the form of fines and/or imprisonment term
  • empowering investigators with wider powers
  • rendering it unnecessary to prove that a person who accepted a bribe was in the position to carry out the required favour
  • empowering investigators to order public officers under investigation to furnish sworn statements specifying properties belonging to them, their spouses and children
  • empowering the public prosecutor to obtain information from the comptroller of income tax
  • empowering the court to admit wealth disproportionate to income as corroborative evidence
  • empowering the removal of the accomplice rule which views evidence of accomplice as unworthy of credit, unless corroborated
  • rendering it a legal obligation to provide information required by investigators of the bureau
  • rendering Singapore citizens to be liable for punishment for corrupt offences committed outside Singapore and to be dealt with as if the offences had been committed in Singapore
  • creating a new seizable offence of knowingly giving false or misleading information

The principle that corruption does not pay was further fortified by the enactment of The Corruption (Confiscation of Benefits) Act of 1989. This provides the court with powers to confiscate the pecuniary resources and property which a person convicted of a corruption offence cannot satisfactorily account for. This Act was replaced by the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes, Confiscation of Benefits Act, Chapter 65(A) in 1999.

Court Punishment For Corruption

In Singapore any person who is convicted of a corruption offence can be fined up to $100,000 or sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years or to both. If the offence relates to a government contract or involves a Member of Parliament or a member of a public body, the term of imprisonment can be increased to seven years.

Besides the fine and imprisonment, a person convicted of a corruption offence will be ordered by the court to return the amount of the bribe he had accepted in the form of penalty. In addition, the court is also empowered to confiscate the property and pecuniary resources which a convicted person cannot satisfactorily account for.

The Singapore judiciary system has adopted a stern punishment policy against corruption offenders to serve as deterrence. This policy is clearly enunciated by the then Chief Justice Yong Pung How when delivering a verdict on a corruption punishment appeal case in 2002:
"I had no doubt that a more severe punishment was warranted to emphasise the courts' as well as society's disapproval and abhorrence of his actions which not only had the effect of bringing the public service of which he was an integral part into disrepute, but also gravely injures the impartial workings of our criminal justice system. To lightly condone the offence in the present case would no doubt undermine the efficacy of our public service as a whole, not only diminishing the public's trust in the country's law-enforcement agencies but also setting back the government's efforts at establishing Singapore in the international community as a safe and corruption-free city state."

Administrative Action Against Corrupt Public Officers

Any officer involved in corruption is dealt with severely. A corrupt public officer may be charged in court if there is enough evidence to do so, or he may be dealt with through departmental disciplinary procedures if there is insufficient evidence for court prosecution.

A public officer charged in court for corruption will also lose his job and if he is pensionable, his pension and other benefits.

As for departmental disciplinary action, the punishment may include:
  • dismissal from service
  • reduction in rank
  • stoppage or deferment of salary increment
  • fine or reprimand
  • retirement in public interest

Preventive Measures Against Corruption

Several administrative measures were taken to reduce the chances of public officers getting involved in corruption and wrongdoings. These measures included:
  • replacing seconded police officers with permanent civilian investigators
  • removing opportunity for corruption
  • streamlining administrative procedures
  • slashing down red tape
  • reviewing public officers' salaries to ensure that they are paid adequately
  • reminding government contractors at the time of signing that bribing public officers administering the contract can lead to termination of contract

The importance of administrative measures in the fight against corruption in Singapore was highlighted way back in 1973 in an article in the South China Post:
"Singapore's approach to the problem of corruption is, we are told, simply one of efficiency in administration. The theory is that there is no room for corruption which thrives much better in an inefficient administration in which there are plenty of loopholes for it to flourish unnoticed and unchecked, where there is scope of hoodwinking and beating the system. An efficient administration can only be run by people who are turned on by and, good at, efficiency; people who are thereby content rather than discontent, fulfilled rather than frustrated, dedicated rather than disloyal, satisfied rather than dissatisfied, uncorrupt rather than corrupt. By giving people their self-respect and enough money in their pockets - by restoring to them, if you like, their dignity and its corresponding integrity of purpose - they are more likely to regard corruption as beneath them and less likely to abandon their public and private consciences; less likely to sell their soul to the devil."

Bob Crew in "On Corruption", South China Morning Post August 1973

Educational Programme

Regular talks are given to public officers, especially those in the law enforcement agencies, on the pitfalls of corruption. Advice is also given to them on how to avoid getting involved in corruption. Public officers are made aware of the Prevention of Corruption Act through the incorporation of the relevant provisions of the Act in the Government Instruction Manuals. In addition, CPIB also conducts Learning Journey briefing for students from Junior Colleges.
Last updated on 26 May 2006
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