Minister of Singapore Iswaran is accused in a rare case of corruption

Daily News Latest
3 min readJan 18, 2024

It is a rare occurrence that has stunned a nation that takes great pride in its impeccable governance that a cabinet minister in Singapore has been charged with corruption.

“Obtaining gratification as a public servant” was one of the 27 accusations that Subramaniam Iswaran pleaded not guilty to against him.

It was around the time when the Formula One Grand Prix made its glittering debut in the city-state of Singapore that he is known for supervising the tourism business in Singapore.

On Thursday, Mr. Iswaran resigned from his position in the cabinet.

There has been a significant amount of coverage in Singapore’s media over the allegations of corruption.

The charges that he was given more than S$160,000 ($119,145; £93,850) worth of flights, hotel stays, and Grand Prix tickets in exchange for advancing the commercial interests of property billionaire Ong Beng Seng were revealed in charge sheets that were released by the prosecution.

A further accusation against him is that he was given tickets to West End musicals as well as football events.

Together with Mr. Ong, who played a significant role in bringing the Formula One event to Singapore in 2008, Mr. Iswaran was taken into custody in the previous year. Mr. Ong was named in each and every one of Mr. Iswaran’s allegations, and he was depicted as the party that allegedly offered the bribes.

In a letter that he sent to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday, Mr. Iswaran stated, “I reject the charges and am innocent.”

Along with the announcement of his resignation, he also stated that he would return his pay and allowances, which he had received since the beginning of the investigation into his case in July of last year.

When Mr. Iswaran was detained, he was placed on leave of absence; yet, he continued to receive a monthly salary of S$8,500 before his arrest. Additionally, he was getting a monthly stipend of more than S$15,000 due to his position as an M.P.

With a starting salary of more than S$45,000 a month, Singapore’s ministers are among the highest-paid in the world. Singapore’s MPs are among the highest-paid in the world. Leaders have defended this by claiming that it will be effective in fighting corruption.

Over the course of his career, Mr. Iswaran has served as a director in a number of significant businesses. He is a veteran of the People’s Action Party (PAP), which is currently in power.

During his time in government, he served in a variety of functions, including the prime minister’s office, the ministry of home affairs, the ministry of communications, and most recently, the ministry of transportation.

His rise to notoriety, however, occurred over the lengthy period of time that he served at the ministry of trade and industry. In the latter part of the 2000s and throughout the 2010s, Mr. Iswaran was instrumental in the development of Singapore’s tourism scene.

It was at this time that the government invested a significant amount of resources and actively sought billions of dollars in foreign investment in order to construct casinos, hotels, tourist attractions, and events such as the Formula One race.

He was a well-known figure on the podium, where he frequently presented trophies to drivers in the midst of jubilant sprays of champagne or champagne.

It is one of a number of embarrassing political scandals that have shaken the PAP, which has long boasted of its strong stance against corruption and immoral behavior. The case against him is one of these scandals.

This situation has been handled “rigorously” by the government of Singapore, according to the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee, who stated on Thursday that he has accepted Mr. Iswaran’s resignation.

I am resolute in my commitment to protect the integrity of both the party and the administration, as well as our reputation for being honest and having no corrupting influence. Nothing less is acceptable to Singaporeans,” he stated.

The most recent instance of a minister being subjected to an investigation for corruption occurred in 1986, when Teh Cheang Wan, the minister of national development, was probed for receiving bribes. He ended his own life long before he was brought to justice.