Singapore remains the least corrupt country in Asia for the 10th year in a row. That’s according to a survey by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (Perc) group based in Hong Kong which offers business information and analysis for companies operating in East and Southeast Asia. But it adds: "Singapore is increasingly vulnerable to corruption in other countries."
Oh yes. Even the Singapore government-linked Temasek Holdings has been affected since it bought the Thai communications giant, Shin Corp, last year. Thai authorities are investigating whether former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra made ill-gotten gains from the sale.
There is dirty money floating around in Singapore too, reports The Straits Times. It says that "foreign individuals who have profited from corruption elsewhere in Asia sometimes park their ill-gotten gains here". It adds, quoting from the survey, "Many wealthy Indonesians, for example, have invested heavily in Singapore real estate…"
Is that why Singapore is yet to sign an extradition treaty wih Indonesia? Because the wealthy Indonesians’ investments benefit the local property and finance industries?
I wouldn’t have asked that question unless The Straits Times said the Indonesian money might be helping those industries. But it didn’t say why Singapore had yet to sign the extradition treaty wanted by Indonesia. It should have addressed that question because Singapore is known to be tough on crime. Singapore has extradition arrangements with several other countries, so why not with Indonesia?
The fact is, Singapore will sign an extradition treaty with Indonesia — if Indonesia signs a defence cooperation agreement with Singapore at the same time. Singapore wants a package deal covering the two issues.
How many words did I use to explain that? Thirty-three. I think The Straits Times, too, should have explained that when it said the Indonesian money might be helping the local economy. Otherwise, it might look like a case of who wants to kill the golden goose.
US State Department report
Incidentally, the US State Department also says that "Singapore… as a major regional financial and transportation center is an attractive target for money launderers and drug transshipment." But it adds, "Corruption cases involving Singapore’s counter narcotics and law enforcement agencies are rare" and "narcotics trafficking and abuse are decreasing in Singapore". The words are taken from the State Department’s 2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released earlier this month. The report says:
"Singapore is one of the busiest seaports in the world. Approximately 80 percent of the goods flowing through its port are in transit or are transshipped and do not enter Singapore’s customs area. Due to the extraordinary volume of cargo shipped through the port, it is highly likely that some of it contains illicit materials. Singapore does not require shipping lines to submit data on the declared contents of transshipment or transit cargo unless there is a Singapore consignee to the transaction… (Singapore) officials have been reluctant to impose tighter reporting or inspection requirements at the port from concern that inspections could interfere with the free flow of goods, thus jeopardizing Singapore’s position as the region’s primary transshipment port."