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Singapore is oft held up as being a well run place. Which ,to a great extent, it is. Government has ferocious powers, which it does indeed use in guiding business and the economy. However, the people using those poewrs tend to have been people who use them wisely and incorruptibly. Which is, as we all know, a distinct rarity.

Singapore’s transport minister has been arrested in connection with a rare top-level corruption investigation that has also ensnared a billionaire hotel tycoon, the country’s anti-graft body has said.

S Iswaran, the minister, was arrested on Tuesday and “subsequently released on bail”, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said in an emailed statement late on Friday, confirming the arrest for the first time.

Ah. Once that dam is breached all may well end up ruing the granting of the authoritarian powers….

10 thoughts on “Authoritarianism”

  1. “are top-level corruption investigation ”

    Is it the investigation that is rare, or the corruption?

  2. “S Iswaran”: Tamil, not Chinese. Does it matter? Dunno.

    Maybe less worried about preserving his family’s reputation? I suppose there’s something to be said for the Chinese interest in “face”.

    Or is it all to do with internal knife-work among the ruling clique? Dunno again. It could even be what it appears to be.

    That Huw Edwards stuff: does that involve internal BBC knife-work? Search me.

  3. The head of the Sg operation in a firm i worked for was perikanese? mainly chinese but with malay in there too…creole in other words. He told me once not long after he got his senior exec job he had been “invited” into politics, which is pretty much the only way into it. He demurred on the grounds he knew he would only get himself into trouble- too much of a free thinker. And by trouble he wasn’t talking about the odd tabloid headline.

  4. the people using those powers tend to have been people who use them wisely and incorruptibly.

    Hence the stranglehold of the Lee family in business and politics…

    The investigation indubitably

  5. Singapore does not like media stories if mis/malfeasance in the city – hence the enormous embarrassment of the Leeson/Barings thing (even though they could simply blame it on awful foreigners).
    At a lower level I worked for a Singapore company owned by an English solicitor at the beginning of the century. To my knowledge he diverted at least GBP4.5 million of commissions to his personal bank account in UK. Were the Singaporean authorities interested…nah! Bloody foreigners spoiling the good name.

  6. They don’t like media reports. A drugged up drunk driver in a Maserati crashed into a BMW car outside our place in Singapore in 2018. Smashed the BMW up so badly I found a suspension spring in the storm drain a week later! Never made the news. Whereas some HDB resident having a minor prang over the drink driving limit might make the court reports at least.

    There must be corruption. There is too much at play, there are too many Chinese, for there not to be. But relatively speaking it’s clean as a whistle.

  7. The political culture of Singapore is authoritarian. But if it also manages to select for competence in office then that is a rarity that is worth examining closely, as it would be very useful to know how to do that. Of course, it might just be selecting for competence in covering up what’s really going on.

  8. But relatively speaking it’s clean as a whistle.

    My impression when I was living there was it’s like a little boy – clean face but dirty behind the ears.

  9. @HB

    Peranakan. There’s a museum of them now.

    Interesting culture, partly being destroyed by the SG gov’s push to Mandarinise everything and thereby destroy the various Cantonese dialects of the early Chinese migrants. Peranakan cuisine borrows heavily from Malay and is worth exploring if you have a chance. Plus the women are hot.

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