What is happening in ‘Clean’ Singapore?

Update 29 Jun 2020

Over allegations of misconduct in south Asian projects

The World Bank has imposed sanctions on subsidiaries of Australian engineering company SMEC after an investigation into corporate misconduct.

The World Bank announced in Washington overnight it had debarred SMEC International, based in Melbourne, and four subsidiaries in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka after an investigation into misconduct in south Asia.

Debarment means the companies are ineligible to receive World Bank-financed contracts.

SMEC was being investigated over alleged bribery scandals in Sri Lanka & Bangladesh
SMEC says it will fulfil its existing World Bank contracts. (Supplied: SMEC)
Australian companies embroiled in bribery scandals in Sri Lanka and Congo

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Multimillion-dollar Shell fuel heist

Shell's company logo is pictured at a gas station. Reuters

9 Singaporeans, who were involved in the multimillion-dollar fuel oil heist at Shell's Pulau Bukom refinery, faced more charges on Monday.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew told Channel NewsAsia that the men, who were taken to court on Jan 9, face one to two additional charges each. He added that they could face more charges as the investigations are still going on.

Reports said that at least three more instances of alleged fuel theft have come to light with the additional charges. Five Shell employees, including Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram, 36, Juandi Pungot, 41, Cai Zhi Zhong, 35, Tiah Kok Hwee, 41, and Koh Choon Wei, 35, were given two more charges. Thus, all of them face a total of four charges each now.

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'Worst flash floods in 30 years'

Some residents in the eastern parts of Singapore woke up to more than Monday blues on Monday (Jan 8) - some had to face murky brown water, coming right up to their doorsteps.

"The water came into the driveway, up to the front of my car," said retiree Mr Lim, who lives along a stretch of terrace houses along Jalan Greja. The low-lying residential area in Bedok was one of those affected by the flash floods on Monday.

“I’ve lived here for over 30 yrs. This is the worst flash flood we have experienced,” said the 67-yr-old.

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‘Topping up’ mindset: Does S'pore Airlines suffer from it?

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has made headlines once again. This time it upset consumers by automatically including travel insurance as part of the purchase, unless travellers carefully opt out. According to The Straits Times (ST), this new online booking feature was introduced in 2017 in Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand.

The brand also saw a credit card debacle recently which caused a fair amount of uproar, and eventually caused SIA to scrap the idea of imposing a credit card service fees for selected classes of fare types – namely its Economy Lite fares -a day after being implemented.

However, the negative headlines did not stop SIA from making digital a focal point for 2018. In a New Year message to staff members, chief executive Goh Choon Phong said the airline will push forward with “digital transformation” that will not only be “significantly enhanced”, but foster a digital mindset and digital-first culture amongst its employees.

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SIA makes U-turn on credit card fee for flights leaving S’pore after backlash

In a U-turn, national carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) has ditched its plans to levy a credit-card service fee on outgoing flights from Singapore, just a day after the news sparked a public backlash.

In a sales circular seen by TODAY on Thursday (Jan 4), SIA said it will not go ahead with plans to put the fee in place after “a further review”.

Earlier this week, the airline said on its website that from Jan 20, customers who book tickets under its new Economy Lite category will be levied a credit-card service fee of 1.3% of the total amount, capped at S$50.

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Inside the Keppel Corporation Corruption Scandal
Singapore: Inside the Keppel Corporation Corruption Scandal

On Aug 3, 2016, a news wire report alleged that Keppel Corporation was involved in a bribery scandal in Brazil. However, the company strongly refuted those allegations and this denial was also widely reported in the news media.

Keppel Corp even made a regulatory filing to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on that Wednesday Aug 3 evening in response to the news wire report. In its filing, it said: “Keppel strongly denies the allegations reportedly made that Keppel executives authorised Mr Skornicki to pay bribes on its behalf.”

Even earlier than that in 2015, Keppel Corp’s name cropped up in reports on the “Operation Car Wash” probe, when investigations uncovered a claim that executives from Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras took bribes in exchange for awarding contracts. To my knowledge, Keppel Corp did not make any public statements denying or admitting those allegations.

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A series of corporate scandals in Singapore have put the pressure on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore’s state-backed corporate heavyweights – collectively known as “Singapore Inc” – will face tough questions in 2018 on their commitment to the Lion City’s vaunted anti-corruption ethos, observers say, as a shocked public comes to grips with a graft scandal that has engulfed oil rig builder Keppel Corp.

One political observer went as far as to describe 2017 as “annus horribilis” for the city state’s corporate sector. That sentiment echoed the hand-wringing among government critics that followed last week’s announcement by US prosecutors that Keppel’s offshore and marine arm, Keppel O&M, agreed to pay a US$422 million settlement to avoid a criminal trial for bribing Brazilian officials.

Keppel O&M, according to court documents released by the US justice department, engaged in a scheme between 2001 and 2014 to pay US$55 million in bribes to win 13 contracts with Petrobas and Sete Brasil – two Brazilian oil companies deeply mired in the country’s wide-ranging Operation Car Wash graft scandal. Keppel O&M is the world’s biggest builder of oil rigs.

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40 million Dollars SkillsFuture scam
Members of public visiting and asking questions of the SkillsFuture Credit and courses at a SkillsFuture Marketplace roadshow. TODAY file photo
Members of public visiting and asking questions of the SkillsFuture Credit and courses at a SkillsFuture Marketplace roadshow. TODAY file Foto

In the largest defraudment of a public institution to date, a 41-yr-old Singaporean believed to be part of a crime syndicate was charged in court on Tuesday (Dec 19) for allegedly making S$40 million of bogus SkillsFuture claims.

Ng Cheng Kwee was slapped with 5 charges, which include forging documents to pass off as a public servant in order to obtain training subsidies from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), concealing benefits from the criminal conduct and obstructing justice.

He is the 5th suspect charged in connection with this case & was described by prosecutors as one of the main perpetrators of the crimes. 4 others - 2 men and 2 women aged 30 to 59 - were hauled to court last month for a series of alleged offences ranging from fraud to receiving as well as hiding criminal proceeds.

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SMRT is cheated of whopping S$9.8 million in contracts by their own employees

Four Singaporeans were charged in court last Friday, 29 Dec 2017, with conspiring and cheating SMRT Trains Ltd of a whopping S$9.8 million in contracts that were awarded to an organisation they had vested interests in.

The offences, which occurred during a five year period between 2007 and 2012, involved three employees of the transport operator, two of whom have since left the organisation.

The ex-employees are 61-year-old former manager Jamalludin Bin Jumari and 59-year-old former assistant engineer Zakaria Bin Mohamed Shariff. The third defendant is 52-year-old current SMRT Trains line manager Zulkifli Bin Marwi while the fourth accused is the 60-year-old director of Enovation Industries Pte Ltd / Enovation Technologies Pte Ltd, Akbar Ali Bin Tambishahib.

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The Surprising Truth About The Homeless In Singapore

As I was walking through Chinatown last week, I passed a man. His shirt was dirty. He smelled bad. He looked sick and was maybe developmentally challenged. He seemingly carried all his possessions in two plastic bags.

Yes, there are homeless people even in prosperous Singapore.

As he passed I thought about the $50 bill I had in my wallet that I was saving for milk, lunch or a taxi. After a few seconds, I turned around to go give it to him but he was gone.

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MRT breakdowns are Singapore’s cross to bear

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong uploaded the following photo on his Facebook page and indicated that Singapore’s frequent MRT breakdowns are the nation’s cross to bear

The veteran politician also compared MRT issues here to Bangkok’s persistent road traffic issues. Bangkok’s traffic jams are considered one of the world’s worsts.
“Bangkok bears its traffic cross, Singapore its frequent MRT breakdowns”
It is unclear what ESM Goh’s comment comparing Singapore’s public train issues to Bangkok’s traffic issues is supposed to imply. One could speculate that the ESM is perhaps implying that commuters should just live with transport issues here like how those living in Bangkok put up with traffic issues in the Thai capital.

Goh’s comment was posted yesterday, just a day before Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged this morning that the people’s frustrations over persistent MRT issues are understandable, but asserted that efforts to improve public train transport are showing results.

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MRT from "Rolling Stock To Laughing Stock"

Over the weekend, Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post published two pieces discussing our MRT system. Both circulated quite widely on social media, with the first article totalling over 17,000 shares. In the article, “Southeast Asia specialist” Bhavan Jaipragas talks about how Singapore’s reputation efficiency is literally, going down the tube.

Jaipragas mentions how Singapore’s MRT network, once touted as one of Asia’s best, has been dogged by major breakdowns and delays in recent years. Today it lags behind Hong Kong’s MTR and the Taipei MRT in reliability, he says, despite how the government has since spent hundreds of millions of dollars overhauling the network.

He also talks about the October 7 flood in the underground tunnel near Bishan station that caused a 20-hour disruption and that while transport minister Khaw Boon Wan, SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming and SMRT Chief Executive Desmond Kuek apologised, “commuters and observers said their implications that rank-and-file workers bore responsibility raised questions on whether a lack of executive accountability was behind the metro network’s woes.”

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The famiLEE feud: PM Lee "I'm not sure that it is solved"

Four months since the start of a public dispute between Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings, the leader of the Southeast Asian island nation said he is not sure whether the matter has been solved.

Lee's two younger siblings, neurologist Lee Wei Ling and businessman Lee Hsien Yang, shocked the country with a public statement accusing the prime minister of abusing power and exploiting their father's legacy for political gains.

The three are children of the country's founding and longest-serving prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away in 2015. The rare public feud among the siblings over the fate of their late father's home led to the prime minister calling for a special sitting of parliament to defend the integrity of his government.

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Social class divide among Singaporeans

We found at the end of “A Study on Social Capital” (2017) that diversity in social
networks among Singaporeans strengthens social capital, trust, national identity and
national pride.

We believe that more can be done to facilitate improved mixing, especially between
people with different school backgrounds, and between those living in private and
public housing.

Raising diversity in social ties is a collective effort. We wish to encourage
Singaporeans to take up opportunities to interact and make friends with people outside
of their usual circles centred on a common race, language, religion, educational and
housing background. We also wish to encourage government agencies and community
leaders to do more to create the structures and programmes that encourage such mixing.

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Singapore PM Stirs Flap in Cambodia by Bringing up Vietnam’s 1979 Invasion
Vietnamese “Hang Flower” Girl Calls Hometown Kakis to Beat Up Korean Rival
What is happening in ‘Clean’ Singapore?
A 'Sign of Distress' in Singapore?
Why is everything breaking down in Singapore?
SG Buildings Crumbling Down Parody
Singapore’s Story: What comes next
To Singapore, with Love 星国恋
Singapore PM draws laughs in US speech
PM Lee Hsien Loong at G20 Leaders' Summit in Hamburg
Singapore must ‘steal other people’s lunches’
PM Lee In The Limelight
PM Lee in Focus
PM Lee the Latest “Victim” of Donald Trump Handshake
Singapore Stumbles on China's Road
Lee Hsien Loong's 10 years as PM
Ex-GM Of AMK Town Council Charged with Corruption
Inside the Keppel Corporation Corruption Scandal
Social class divide among Singaporeans
Singapore SMEC hit by World Bank ban
Singapore: Multimillion-dollar Shell fuel heist
What is happening in ‘Clean’ Singapore?
SMRT cheated of whopping $9.8 million by their own employees
Oil, Bribes, Politicians: What Happened To ‘Clean’ Singapore?
40 million Dollars SkillsFuture scam
Zero Tolerance for Corruption
Singapore’s Corruption Control Framework
Paying high salaries to mitigate corruption
Maintaining Standards of our Civil Service
Business and Rules of Prudence
Crime, Corruption, Scandal & Professional Misconduct 3
Crime, Corruption, Scandal & Professional Misconduct 2
Crime, Corruption, Scandal & Professional Misconduct 1
Why is everything breaking down in Singapore?
Massive blackout across Singapore
A 'Sign of Distress' in Singapore?
Spate of e-bike accidents
Spate of cars flipping over
Spate of vehicles on fire
Spate of facade cladding falling off
Spate of Escalator accidents
Spate of lift accidents
Ensure structural safety of HDB blocks b4 injury or death result
SG Buildings Crumbling Down Parody
HDB Lift ceiling collapsed upon 10-yr-old girl
Elevator and Train Operate With 'Open Doors'
MRT from "Rolling Stock To Laughing Stock"
MRT breakdowns are Singapore’s cross to bear
Jinx @ JEM