Premature announcement would have compromised CPIB investigations: DPM Teo

To have made any announcements while the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) was in the midst of their investigations into the former Singapore Civil Defence Force and Central Narcotics Bureau chiefs' alleged corruption would be premature as the outcome was not known, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean said at Tuesday's parliament sitting.

Responding to Mr Lim Biow Chuan and Mr Edwin Tong Chun Fai's questions on the ongoing CPIB probe, DPM Teo said it was necessary to give CPIB time to gather evidence, seize documents, conduct interviews with various persons who were connected to the case and establish whether further action was warranted.

"On the day that CPIB interviewed the two officers and decided to place them under arrest, the Ministry of Home Affairs placed the two officers on leave on the respective dates.

"They were told not to return to their offices, nor to carry out any official duties. Their deputies acted during their period of absence on leave.

"As investigations were still underway, it was also premature and not fair to remove the officers from their office or to interdict them from their duties then, until the situation became clearer," je said.

Mr Lim and Mr Tong had asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs why information about the arrests of senior Government servants were not made public until weeks later and whether the Government should have suspended senior civil servants from their official duties once they have been arrested.

They also asked for updates on the status of the investigations and whether the investigations have revealed lapses in the agencies' procurement systems and processes.

DPM Teo told the House that CPIB investigations are still on-going.

"Once the outcome of the investigations are known, the MHA will correct any lapses uncovered in the procurement systems and processes in the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Central Narcotics Bureau.

"The Civil Service and MHA will apply those same lessons civil service-wide where applicable. In the meantime, MHA has reviewed various outstanding IT tenders, including the composition of the tender evaluation committees. This has been done to safeguard the integrity and fairness of the tender system," he said.

DPM Teo also said that any allegation of misconduct against public officers is investigated fully, regardless of the position or seniority of the officers involved. However, an arrest by CPIB does not necessarily mean that the person will be prosecuted in court or referred for disciplinary action.

paullim@sph.com.sg


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