It's people, not the system, that will keep graft out: PM Lee

It's people, not the system, that will keep graft out: PM Lee

SINGAPORE - Singapore has a strong anti-corruption system and values but it is not the system that will continue keeping it clean. It is the people who run it who will do so, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.


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PM Lee was speaking at a dialogue chaired by Sir Malcolm Rifkind and held by think-tank Chatham House in London on Friday.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind is a former minister in the Conservative Government of prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Here is a transcript of PM Lee's answers in response to Mr Rifkind's questions on Singapore's reputation as an incorrupt city-state.

PM Lee's answer to Sir Malcolm Rifkind's question of what Singapore's unique selling point was:

"It's a first world system in a very complicated and non-first-world part of the world. Things work, the country is stable, the society is cohesive, people are well-educated, the government is incorupt and efficient, and we deliver on what we promise and we try to head in a consistent direction over a long period of time.

"So if you come to Singapore, and you want to do business, you can count on what we promise you, and what you see is what you get and that's not bad."

PM Lee's answer to Sir Malcolm Rifkind's question of whether Singapore's incorrupt system was reversible:

"I think it is reversible but I think these values and this system is fairly well entrenched. The expectations from the public are there, so if something is not quite right you can be sure that somebody will sound the alarm. And in this day and age, there is no possibility of these things - something wrong being kept secret for very long. Within the system there are mechanisms to make sure that if something is suspicious, it is investigated, and if something indeed is wrong, then consequences will have to follow.

"It doesn't mean that the system runs by itself. In the end it is still people and you must have very capable, honest and very resolute people who will operate the system and follow through and keep it clean even when it's politically inconvenient.

"And that's what we tell Singaporeans: You cannot assume that whoever happens to be the minister or prime minister, all will be well because we've got all these rule books and laws built up. It depends on what sort of person he is and who is going to make it work."

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