Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reminded Parliament that Transport Minister S Iswaran is “innocent until proven guilty” when Members of Parliament (MPs) asked about Iswaran who continues to draw a reduced monthly pay of S$8,500.
MPs Saktiandi Supaat and Hazel Poa raised these questions during clarifications after PM Lee gave his ministerial speech on Aug. 2, 2023.
PM Lee revealed in his speech that Iswaran has been interdicted from duty after being brought in by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) for investigations, with a reduced monthly pay of S$8,500 until further notice.
Iswaran should be innocent until proven guilty: PM Lee
PM Lee reiterated that it was his decision to reduce Iswaran’s monthly pay to an amount “less than half”.
He explained that he didn’t have a “precedent” to refer to and could only follow the model adopted by the public service.
PM Lee added that as Iswaran is “innocent until proven guilty”, he could have “technically” chosen to let Iswaran go on leave with “full pay” until the matter is clear.
Regardless, he doesn’t think he should “prejudge a case”.
“So what is a fair thing to do?” PM Lee asked.
He explained that if Iswaran were found innocent, his pay would be reinstated. However, if Iswaran were found guilty, his pay would stop completely, and other consequences would follow.
PM Lee said he thought it was a reasonable model.
Iswaran’s case “wouldn’t be here” if not for “ownself check ownself”
Non-constituency member of parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai asked why there were “delays” and questioned the government’s stance on “zero tolerance for corruption”.
PM Lee answered that in any formal investigations, CPIB would need time to “have all the facts and evidence” before they start interviewing “the principal person”.
He said when CPIB asked him for permission on Jul. 5, 2023, he gave it the next day.
However, he let CPIB decide when they wanted to act, and they chose to act on Jul. 11 as they needed a few days to prepare.
PM Lee emphasised that the CPIB has a good track record and a “formidable reputation”.
PM Lee pointed out that Iswaran’s case “wouldn’t even be here” if the government didn’t decide to act on “ownself check ownself”.
“Do you think I was pleased when CPIB told me that one of my ministers needed to be investigated? I was disappointed. I was saddened,” he said.
However, PM Lee said the director knew he would back the director up and enable him to do his duty.
“They will do their job, and in due course, everything will be settled,” PM Lee said. “I think that’s a way we keep Singapore working for a long time to come.”
@mothershipsg “He has not been convicted. A presumption of innocence applies. He’s innocent until proven guilty.” #sgpariliament #sgnews #tiktoksg ♬ original sound – Mothership
Top image via MCI