The Prevention of Corruption Act is the principal anti-corruption law of Singapore. It governs and defines the primary offences of corruption and their punishments while laying out the powers granted to the enforcement agency, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), to fight against corruption. The legislation was introduced by then Minister for Home Affairs Ong Pang Boon in the Legislative Assembly on 13 January 1960. At the time, corruption was a prevalent problem in Singapore although there was already an existing anti-corruption law known as the Prevention of Corruption Ordinance that was enacted in 1937.
While moving the seconding reading of the Prevention of Corruption Bill on 13 February 1960, Ong noted that the existing ordinance was inadequate to combat corruption because it was dated and did not empower the CPIB, which was constituted in 1952, with sufficient authority to deal with corruption effectively. To ratify the corruption bill, Ong stressed that the new anti-corruption law would enforce new anti-corruption measures and strengthen existing ones. Under the new act, the definition of corruption was revised to explicitly include various forms of gratifications and the penalty for corrupt behaviours became more severe. In addition, CPIB officers were vested with extensive powers to carry out their investigations. These included the authority to arrest a person suspected of corruption as well as the ability to access the suspect’s financial accounts or premises to search for evidence.
The Prevention of Corruption Act was effective in curbing corruption in Singapore as the country consistently ranks as one of the least corrupt in the world today according to the Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International. To maintain the relevance of the legislation, the act has undergone numerous amendments since its enactment in order to provide CPIB officers with more investigative powers, enhance the punishments meted out for corruption and strengthen the overall anti-corruption framework of Singapore.
1. Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. (2012). The journey: 60 years of fighting corruption in Singapore. Singapore (pp.1–10). Singapore: Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. Call no.: RSING 364.95957 SIN.
2. Singapore. Legislative Assembly. Debates: Official Report. (1960, January 13). Prevention of Corruption Bill (Vol. 12, col. 15). Singapore: Legislative Assembly. Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN.
3. Quah, J. S. T. (2010). Public administration Singapore style (pp. 173–175). Singapore: Talisman Pub. Call no.: RSING 351.5957 QUA.
4. Singapore. Legislative Assembly. Debates: Official Report. (1960, February 13). Prevention of Corruption Bill (Vol. 12, col. 377). Singapore: Legislative Assembly. Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN.
5. Debates: Official Report, 13 Feb 1960, Vol. 12, cols. 377–385.
6. Goh, C. L. (2012, December 6). Singapore remains 5th least corrupt country. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva; Transparency International. (2013, December 3). Corruption Perceptions Index 2013. Retrieved from Transparency International website: http://www.transparency.org/cpi2013/results
7. Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. (2006, April 27). Prevention of Corruption Act. Retrieved November 9, 2013, from Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau website: http://app.cpib.gov.sg/cpib_new/user/default.aspx?pgID=202
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.