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S’pore politics: Analysis by stat board

In Political governance on 28/02/2012 at 6:14 am

“The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies is a regional research centre dedicated to the study of socio-political, security and economic trends and developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment”. It is also a statutory board whose funding comes from the government.

In its inaugral ISEAS Monitor, this is what it says about S’pore.

Singapore

A series of controversies has cast a shadow on the country’s reputation for non-corruption and efficiency. News broke in late January that the chiefs of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and the Singapore Civil Defence Force(SCDF) had been hauled up by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau for “serious personal misconduct”. This investigation is sandwiched between the jailing of officers from the Singapore Land Authority and Ministry of Home Affairs for fraud in November 2011 and January 2012, respectively, and news that civil servants, including a school principal, have been clients of an online prostitution operation.

In addition to these high-profile investigations, the proceedings of the Commission of Inquiry into the majo breakdown of the country’s train system last December will soon begin. Already the recent assessment by international experts that Singapore’s drainage designstandards still lag behind those in other places, to explain the regular flooding on the island, put relevant state agencies in a poor light.

The coming months will see the government and the mainstream media attempt to protect and restore the reputation of state agencies and adminstitutions. The government will not down-play these controversies but, instead, seek to win public confidence by demonstrating as clearly as possible how swiftly justice is meted out tooffenders, while bold regulatory steps are implemented to minimise future organisational failings.

Meanwhile, the country’s most established opposition party, the Workers Party, has been rocked by its

expulsion of Yaw Shin Leong, the Member of Parliament for Hougang.

Yaw, who is married, had been rumoured to have had an affair with a married member of the party. His refusal to address these allegations, in addition to rumours of relations with other women, led to his dismissal on grounds of accountability and transparency. His expulsion will trigger a by-election to be called at the Prime Minister’s discretion.

Key points: As there is no fixed time within which a by-election must be held,political calculations will take over. A by-election in the next few of months will probably be to the Workers Party’s advantage given its strong showing in the general elections last year. Calling the by-election later – in a year or two – may be to the ruling party’s advantage as the conspicuous absence of an 0pposition MP in Parliament will serve as a public reminder of the controversy.

I agree with its analysis on how the government and MSM will protect and restore the reputation of state agencies and adminstitutions. The government will not down-play these controversies but, instead, seek to win public confidence by demonstrating as clearly as possible how swiftly justice is meted out tooffenders, while bold regulatory steps are implemented to minimise future organisational failings.

But I disagree that delaying a bye-election is to the government’s advantage by reminding S’poreans about the WP’s failings. If anything, it will remind S’poreans of the democracy “deficit” here.

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