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City-state of Singapore shaken by unusual political scandals

Despite its reputation for political stability, Singapore has been shaken by a succession of odd political scandals.

Last week’s investigation into corruption that resulted in the arrest of a minister was the first of its kind in four decades.

The affair between two lawmakers was exposed on Monday, and one resigned.

This news takes aback residents of the city-state because it runs counter to their expectations, given the country’s excellent standard of living and the openness of its government.

singapur tower in night image

People action Party

Even though the People’s Action Party (PAP), the party now in office, has a massive majority in parliament and has been in power since 1959, observers believe that the recent scandals could hurt the party’s favor among the public.

Some people have also hypothesized that, as a result, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s departure will be put off till a later date.

There have been resignations and prominent arrests

Tan Chuan-jin, 54, the speaker, and Cheng Li Hui, 47, a member of parliament, resigned from the party and the legislature on Monday owing to their “inappropriate relationship.” Parliamentarian Cheng Li Hui with Speaker Tan Chuan-jin. Unlike Mr. Tan, Ms. Cheng has never been married.

The government’s credibility has been called into doubt with the arrests of Transport Minister S Iswaran and wealthy hotelier Ong Beng Seng last week. These two men were crucial in Singapore’s 2008 Formula One Grand Prix victory.

The Singaporean public was informed on Wednesday that Minister Iswaran had been asked to step down from his position while an investigation was conducted.

Deputy prime minister Lawrence Wong told the local media that nothing would be overlooked or covered in the corruption investigation. Inquiries from the local press prompted this assurance.

The public only found out about the arrests three days after they occurred because the police were slow to release the information. Suspects have been released on bail and not yet charged as authorities conduct an investigation. The arrests happened when two additional high-ranking ministers rented colonial-era homes in a posh neighborhood for less than the going fee.

Inequality and Political Scandals

The matter sparked a heated discussion about inequality in Singapore and politicians’ look, even though a corruption inquiry exonerated K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan.

Memes that would later trend originated from shocking events. A post from Monday by the Instagram account you. Sg said, “The writers of this season of Singapore have really outdone themselves.”

A caption also said, “When me and the girlies are suddenly interested in SG politics.” The snapshot depicts a group of Barbie dolls using a laptop computer.

The current political climate was humorously equated on Instagram by one user to the act of spilling tea or gossip. The two were compared.

singapur view in day

But serious concerns exist about the PAP’s future and how long it can maintain Singaporeans’ faith in the jokes. These doubts center on the PAP’s ability to maintain Singaporeans’ trust for the long haul.

Two legislature members have resigned in the past decade due to extramarital affairs; one was the speaker, and the other was a backbencher. Both departures took place within a ten-year time frame. The proximity to the events and the ongoing corruption investigation has led to a rise in voter monitoring.

For a long time, the People’s Action Party (PAP) has taken pleasure in the high moral standards it has set for elected lawmakers and in its ability to keep order. One of the original members compared being a part of the PAP to being a priest.

In light of recent events, Mr. Lee has defended his party’s actions, saying they are “how the system has to function.” The defense from last week.

Sometimes items get clumped together, but we always make sure to straighten them out,” he remarked. It has been said that the PAP’s “high standards of propriety and personal conduct… are the fundamental reasons Singaporeans trust and respect the PAP.”

According to some experts, these controversies undermine Singapore’s and the PAP’s claims of exceptional leadership. In particular for the PAP.

According to Singaporean political scientist Ian Chong, “the biggest questions surround restraints on authority, oversight, transparency, the impartiality of the parliamentary process, and the PAP’s claim that it is a sufficient check on itself.” As for the rest, these are the areas where most questions need to be answered. I am more concerned with checks on power, transparency, openness, and parliamentary apathy.

He noted that the PAP had not followed the political norms of other developed countries. Members of Congress, the Cabinet, and other high-ranking government officials and their families must disclose their financial holdings and income.

singapur view in night image

The Government of Singapore Must Deal with Erosion

Author of several books on Singaporean politics and an Australian professor of international relations, Michael Barr, claims there is no practical way to hold strong people accountable.

Only put your faith in them. Recent events have put the government in an unprecedented and precarious position. “They are destroying public trust that has been placed in their institutions,” he declared.

Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perceptions Index places Singapore at #5 on the list of least corrupt countries. The government has long maintained that ministerial salaries in the seven figures are essential to root out corruption.

Dr. Barr argued otherwise, saying, “Without extraordinary levels of public trust, the government must rely on one of two things to win elections: either repression and other measures that subvert democracy, or a high level of performance-based legitimacy.” Their recent results have been so bad that their earlier achievements may be disregarded.

The projected resignation of Mr. Lee has been called into question by recent events.

The politician, now 71 years old and in office as prime minister since 2004, has expressed a wish to step down numerous times. Current Finance Minister Lawrence Wong will take over for him.

On Monday, Mr. Lee announced that he would not call for nationwide elections anytime soon, which is false. The following election is anticipated to take place in November 2025.

Dr. Chong pointed out that Mr. Wong’s lack of response to current issues casts doubt on his and his colleagues qualifications to lead the city-state. Dr. Chong remarked on Mr. Wong’s relative silence over the most recent scandals.

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