Singapore a clean state?

September 25, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

Over the past few days, we have been questioning surveys conducted by international organisations that laud the PAP-system and that Government officials and their affiliates keep citing.

We have raised the issue that some of these organisations may have a vested interest in continuing to rate highly an undemocratic, non-transparent and non-accountable system such as the one imposed on Singapore by Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

We turn our attention to Transparency International (TI). Like the World Bank and the Political Economic Risk Consultancy, TI has had many sweet things said about it by Mr Lee. It was a hot topic during the defamation hearing between the Minister Mentor and Dr Chee Soon Juan.

The Berlin-based oganisation came under focus when Mr Lee brought up that its Malaysian chapter had given him an award. Dr Chee rubbished the award because the selection process was suspect.

More recently TI, which publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), cited Singapore as the fourth cleanest country.

As usual ruling party cliques wasted no time in loudly cheering the accolade. A group of young PAP MPs who call themselves P65-ers posted the following on their blog under the title Clean Government:

In a global corruption survey, Singapore has been ranked fourth least corrupt country with a score of 9.2, after joint leaders Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand, with a leading score of 9.3. The Singapore government places great emphasis and takes pride in upholding a clean and corrupt-free government and public service…

Of course these MPs couldn’t resist using the finding to not so subtly remind Singaporeans why they should continue to rule:

This is also the cornerstone of the PAP, which explains why the party is so obsessed with selecting the right candidates to enter politics…

As what MM Lee has alluded in the past, it only takes one dishonest government to bring the whole country down. It is therefore imperative that Singaporeans exercise due caution and sound rational when selecting the party, leaders and MPs to represent and look after their well-being.

Not so fast, people. Lest you get into the same muddle as your MM Lee did over the International Bar Association debacle, it might be worthwhile to note that unhappiness was brewing at TI over the CPI before its latest publishing:

It has been suggested to us [Tax Justice Network] that there is currently a fierce debate going on inside TI about the forthcoming index [CPI], and the debate hinges on our analysis.

We understand that insiders are furious that their veteran methodology for calculating their index has produced a draft table that records Singapore as the fourth “cleanest” country in the world, when many of us know all too well that Singapore is one of the world’s most toxic, and fast-growing, tax havens, hoovering up dirty money from all around the world.

http://taxjustice.blogspot.com/2008/09/transparency-international-divided-on.html

The Tax Justice Network, or TJN, is a ton-for-profit group focused on the role of taxation and the harmful impacts of tax evasion and tax havens. The Network opposes “all the mechanisms that enable owners and controllers of wealth to escape their responsibilities to the societies on which they and their wealth depend.”

The PAP won’t like them.

There’s something else it won’t like about the Network. TJN is working with TI to create a new Financial Transparency Index. It recommends an alternative methodology that looks at a more comprehensive definition of corruption, one that takes into consideration money-laundering and tax evasion.

Mr Richard Murphy, a tax and corporate accountability expert and founder of TJN, had this to say about the CPI:

“Plenty of people inside Transparency International are with us. Switzerland and Singapore…are simply not clean states. If Transparency International can’t see that holding illicit funds and facilitating tax evasion is corruption then they’re part of the problem and not part of the solution.”
http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/richard-murphy/

Of course you’ll not see this issue raised in our press. It’s only here in the SDP’s website that you get to read such news. We’re doing the job that our nation-building journalists are only too happy to neglect, that is, investigate issues and alert Singaporeans to the dangers that may lie ahead.

And if and when TI changes its mind and starts to rate Singapore not so brightly, will it become another preeminent-international-organisation-turned-Western-liberal-out-to-do-us-in NGO?

More important, will our self-proclaimed rightly-selected MPs continue to be cheerleaders for the TI’s Courruption Perceptions Index while ignoring the other side of the debate?

This article was sent to the P65 Blog with the invitation for a response on this or any other topic.

Dear P65-ers,

We have posted a piece that addresses the issue of Singapore being the 4th cleanest country in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International. It is entitled “Singapore a clean state?” and can be read here: http://yoursdp.org/news/singapore/1139-singapore-a-clean-state-

The article cites some of your statements made in this “Clean Government” post. We would like to invite you to respond to this or any other topic. Thank you.

Singapore Democrats