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Thursday January 17th 2019

Corruption practices at government bodies – more deterrent measures needed?

The Commissioner of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Peter Lim (left) , has been suspended from his duties and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) chief, Ng Boon Gay (right), has been questioned by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), according to Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao. -- PHOTOS: SCDF AND MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

I was awakened by shocking revelation, over   text message from a friend early this morning,  that our chief of SCDF Mr Peter Lim and head of CNB Mr Ng Boon Gay were suspended by the authorities and under probe by CPIB for corruption practices respectively.

This news was later confirmed this morning on the Straits Times interactive quoting from news reporting by Lianhe Wanbao.

What was most perplexing is not the corruption news but that the chief of SCDF was already suspended for over a month Рtogether with 6 other SCDF officers Рand  if not for some whistle blowing leak to the press, the shameful act  may be unexposed.

It is not known if both the top level  cases involving SCDF and CNB are related and how long the corruption practices were going on before they are caught.

This shocking corruption news, involving  government-related staff, came hot on the heels of a Ministry of Home Affairs  (MHA) assistant  executive who was recently  jailed 8 years and 8 months for  cheating with  $617,000 over 4 years.

This corruption news still could not be compared in scale with the one committed at Singapore Land Authority as Koh Seah Wee, deputy director of SLA’s Technology and Infrastructure Department (TID) and Christopher Lim Chai Meng, a manager in the same department, are believed to have created false invoices through various business entities for fictitious IT maintenance goods and services that were not delivered.

The amount pilfered was also huge ‚Äď $12 million over a two-year period starting from Jan 2008 to March 2010 and was only discovered when someone new discovered something was amiss when he ¬†came¬† to take over the duties of the errant department.

To add salt to the wound, Mr Lim  smashed his Ferrari  last December 2009  along Nicoll Highway and no one in SLA realised that the driver, named in reports as Lim Chai Meng, was their colleague as he was known as Chris Lim in the office!

However, both the cases at MHA and SLA, were clear-cut cheating cases as the culprits saw  gaping loopholes in the system and used these corporate  lapses to their advantage.

Both cases pointed to systemic weaknesses in our financial regulating procedures involving the ministries and it is hope that the authorities will continue to improve operations to reduce malpractices and corruption.

The ones at SCDF and CNB probably involving a  large amount of cash and thus were clear-cut corruption practices Рunseen for a long time since ex-NKF CEO Mr Duric peddled with a golden tap that sent him downhill all the way.

Moreover, Mr Duric managed to escape twice when he counter-sued people who have accused him of travelling first-class. The NKF ex-chief not only escaped justice but also received compensation when he hurled defamation suits accused his accusers further mocking our legal system in the process.

It also showed vividly how the rich can use the legal system to their advantage as often those who are poorer will not want to enter into a law suit – even though they know well enough that they are in the right. They rather paid up the $5,000 to $10, 000 demafation settlement money than enter into a protracted expensive lawsuit case. Most also are wary of the adverse publicity such cases have on their employment status and personal life.

On the other hand, some netizens have also pointed out that paying our top civil servants or ministers high-end salaries may not really resolve the problem of corruption in our prosperous city state as many businesses will cotinue to tempt officers so that they will have a smoother path in their business operations.

It is also impossible to totally eradicate corruption as not all operating procedures at our ministries are fool-proof and there will always be bad apples in any ministries who are always on the look out to exploit any operating weaknesses.

Moreover, business corruption is rife in the private business sector and is sometimes even accepted. People often pass around any pows or stash think wads of fifty-dollar notes into envelopes as thank-you introductory goodwill gestures before negotiation begins.

I am sure that police officers are sometimes bribed by vice operators or even legal business entities so that they could operate their businesses without much harassment from the forces.

We have often heard of police officers been prosecuted for such crimes as some are tempted to either take the financial bribes or flesh trade-off.

Many people have also commented Рwhen the shocking news of the SCDF and CNB scandals broke out this morning Рthat ex-MM Lee Kuan Yew  commanded respect for his clean lean governance philosophy.

We have heard too often of how strongman Lee is willing to pay extra millions to his ministers so that they will not succumb to financial pay-off when they are being tempted as he knew that a corrupted government will not be good for the country.

Nevertheless, top men like the chiefs of SCDF and CNB are unlikely to be paid peanuts and may even have received compensation not far away from our junior ministers.

A superscale salary scheme Рmeant for the elite administrative service Рstarts off with $11, 000 at the bottom and with solid performance bonuses (PB), they can be paid in the $200,000 plus category if they slog it out in the civil service for  the long term.

Officers in the SCDF and CNB are  also in the high-risk category as their work deals alot with the illicit shadowy world.

The SCDF deals with all kinds of businesses and they are¬† involved in¬† licensing from restaurant’s ¬†fire alarm system to tugboat’s permit to ply our water ways.

Big money is often  involved in such businesses and it takes a strong man Рeven if he is already paid a million in annual salary Рto move away from such temptations. Who will mind having more zeros in their bank account?

There is also the  feeling of thrill when one is involved illicitly  and sometimes this is far more attractive than the corruption benefit itself.

I have worked in the insurance sales business before and often one has to put aside a certain portion of our commission for entertainment and rebate purposes  - which is illegal.

I sticked to my gun and so far has lost some deals when I said that I would not be able to return some percentage of the commission to them when the sales is closed.

All it took is one botched crooked rebate especially if it involves a large-premium sales and you are off to the winding road of illicit business operation.

Transitioning.org has recently received emails on certain  illicit business dealings involving some shipping companies and in one of such postings put up on the first week of December last year, we were been sued for defamation by the companies involved one week later. The SCDF and some other stat boards were also implicated  in the article. It is unknown if the current suspension involving the SCDF chief is linked to the case mentioned.

We are however heartened that one particular perm sec from the ministry, whom we have emailed our case to,  replied saying that an investigation will take place if  due negligence is discovered. There is no  further feedback on this matter later on. For confidentiality purpose, we are  unable to provide more information on the identity of the perm sec or which ministry he belongs to.

The writer has also written to the respective ministries to seek redress and one of the shipping companies  implicated was recently charged in court and fined for the malpractices. I was personally present at the court case earlier this year.

What was worrying is that the writer has to file a legal court case against the company using his own funds before the prosecutor took action. His previous countless letters to the respective ministries have seemed to fall on deaf ears.

As for us,  we have no choice but to withdraw the post on the third week of December as we do not have the funds to engage a lawyer to defend ourselves.

Small social networking site  like ours has everything to lose when we are being sued as we are not backed by huge funds and not as popular as the heavily-read socio-political sites such as The Online Citizen (TOC) or Temasek Review Emeritius (TRE).

A poor whistle blowing culture here also meant that illicit business owners - in some cases large corporations Рwere allowed to go off scout-free when whistle blowers were not accorded the right secrecy when they came out and exposed errant malpractices in their work places.

Some companies have put in place whistle blowing legislation but it was not properly adhered to and some don’t even bothered to reply to enquiries via the email address listed on the whistle blowing link.

Moreover, most workers would rather mind their own business so that their rice bowls will not be jeopardised and only the most sturdy would dare to whistle blow for the sake of justice.

Since we started our whistle blowing project last month – for workers who want to expose malpractices in their work places – we have received close to twenty over emails from our readers.

We normally require a contact number so that we can ascertain that the person writing the email is genuine and sometimes we will meet up with the writer to gather more information before putting up the article.

So far, more than ten whistle blowing articles involving errant companies were published on our site – most involving operational malpractices in the work places.

Transitioning.org welcomes the public  to write to us anonymously so that errant malpractices at the workplaces can be exposed.

However, when it comes to articles involving minstries and the government, we regret that we will want to tread cautiously here. Of course, if the writer can provide all kinds of proof to ascertain that the facts provided are true – we will still post the articles. We will take the risk for justice sake.

Written by: Gilbert Goh

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6 Responses to “Corruption practices at government bodies – more deterrent measures needed?”

  1. Mohd Nazem Suki says:

    Next please suspend MP LKY and cronies.

  2. Robert says:

    The NKF dude is DURAI. Dumb fuck.

  3. Fadil says:

    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the news was delayed. Coz “they” don’t want it to coexist with the Parliamentary debate on ministerial salaries. If it did, the Opposition would have a whale of a time with it, and the ruling party’s MPs can’t even breathe a “hello” from their mouths.

  4. I have read the article on NSL Oilchem’s accident in 2007 and find it funny that the SCDF did not charge the company for storing hundreds of tonnes of highly flammable waste oil in their supposingly unsuitable storage tanks. The MOM charged the company and its Manager but the final report was actually complied by the SCDF and they fairly well knew that traces of highly flammable petroleum were found in all the samples taken from the plant that unfateful day, and the question is why didn’t the SCDF stop the plant’s operation …?
    charge NSL ..? Does

  5. jj says:

    During my NS days, i put up a suggestion suggesting raise the pay of those NCO & cut the pay of the CO because the those CO’s pay is much to high while those NCO’s pay is low. In the end, i was asked to discarded the suggestion.

  6. Stormy Sferrazza says:

    Good day. Very nice blog!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I am happy to find a lot of helpful info right here in the article. Thank you for sharing.

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