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‘Reputational damage’: Singapore’s ruling party grapples with scandal

In a notable corruption case in Singapore, former cabinet minister S Iswaran faces accusations of receiving gifts valued at over SGD 380,000 ($283,000) from Malaysian billionaire Ong Beng Seng. The alleged gifts include tickets to prominent West End shows like Hamilton, football matches, and cultural events such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The prosecution contends that Iswaran accepted these gifts in exchange for using his influence to advance Ong’s business interests. Ong, known for his instrumental role in bringing the Singapore Grand Prix to the city-state in 2008 and holding the rights to the night race, had Grand Prix tickets listed as part of the alleged gifts to Iswaran.

Isawaran has vehemently denied all 27 charges against him and promptly resigned from the government. In a resignation letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Iswaran expressed his commitment to clearing his name and pledged to return all salary and allowances received since the start of the corruption investigation in July.

This corruption case has dealt a blow to Singapore’s government, renowned for its political stability and reputation for honesty and integrity. As the country faces an imminent election and an anticipated leadership transition in November, the People’s Action Party (PAP), a long-standing political force, aims to reassure voters of its ability to withstand the reputational damage stemming from this case.

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