Official charged in rare corruption case

Wall St Journal
June 6, 2012


A  FORMER top Singapore government official was charged on Wednesday, June 6, with accepting sexual favors from women seeking to influence government contracts — a rare corruption case in the city-state, which prides itself on transparency in government
and business.

Peter Lim, who was removed as the head of the Civil Defence Force (SCDF) earlier this
year, "corruptly obtained sexual gratification from two female vendors and one potential female vendor to the SCDF on 10 occasions" over the course of more than a year, according to a statement released by the country's anticorruption agency.

Efforts to reach Mr Lim at his residence were unsuccessful. It was not immediately clear who is representing Mr Lim or whether he entered a plea. The anticorruption agency provided no further information.

Mr Lim's case is the first involving a senior government official in decades.

The women involved in Mr Lim's case, who have not been charged, were "advancing the
business interest of their companies" with the Civil Defence Force, the statement said.

Mr Lim could face a fine of up to S$100,000 and up to five years of jail time if found guilty.

In February, Singapore's government said it was suspending both Mr Lim and, separately, Ng Boon Gay, the former director of the Central Narcotics Bureau, for allegations of "serious personal misconduct."

Both men were replaced earlier this year. Singapore's anticorruption agency, the
Corrupt Practices and Investigation Bureau (CPIB),  on Wednesday provided no additional information on Mr Ng's case but said investigations were ongoing.

It was unclear if Mr Ng had legal  representation and efforts to locate him were

Singapore's Civil Defence Force is in charge of emergency assistance in the city-state, providing fire-fighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services. The Central Narcotics Bureau is the country's primary drug-enforcement agency, investigating drug offenses and enforcing Singapore's strict narcotics laws.

The wealthy city-state is consistently ranked as one of the world's least-corrupt nations. Last year, corruption watchdog agency
Transparency International ranked Singapore No. 5 on a New Zealand-led list of the world's least corrupt countries and  the least corrupt country in Asia.

The country's reputation for probity in civic affairs has helped make it a darling of investors around the world.

Its government leaders enjoy high salaries compared to other countries — a practice
they say helps prevent corruption by reducing the incentive to break the law for personal gain.

"Our zero-tolerance approach to corruption in the public and private sectors can only work if Singaporeans continue to be imbued with the right values and recognize that whilst corruption may be a fact of life, it is not our way of life in Singapore," said Teo Chee Hean, deputy prime minister and minister for home affairs and minister-in-charge of the Civil Service, at a parliament session in March this year.

"We also require good leadership by example at the top, as well as a population which rejects corruption and does not accept any form of corruption at all."