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‘I am innocent’: Iswaran rejects charges in statement

Douglas Toh
Douglas Toh • 3 min read
‘I am innocent’: Iswaran rejects charges in statement
The former Transport Minister (seen outside the State Courts this morning) continues to reject his charges. Photo: Bloomberg
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Former Transport Minister S Iswaran has rejected the 27 charges brought against him in court on Jan 18, reiterating his innocence in a statement released the same day. 

“I reject the charges and allegations against me. I am innocent and will now focus on clearing my name,” reads the statement. 

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) began its investigations in July 2023 and sent Israwan a formal notice of charges on Jan 16. That same day, Iswaran submitted his letter of resignation from the Cabinet, Parliament and the People’s Action Party to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Iswaran has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for the West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) since his political debut in 1997. 

Iswaran is charged with receiving favours from Ong Beng Seng, chairman of the F1 Singapore Grand Prix organiser, “which purportedly aided in promoting the latter’s business concerns related to the contract renewal between the Singapore government and the event”, according to a separate statement by the Ministry for Trade and Industry (MTI) on Jan 18. 

MTI says there is “nothing to suggest” that the F1 Singapore Grand Prix and related contracts were designed to be disadvantageous to the government. “There was an independent consultancy study,” adds the ministry.

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A total of 27 charges were brought against Iswaran, two of which were classified under Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) charges, while one fell under obstruction of justice and the remaining 24 were for receiving “valuable things”.

The 24 charges entail a variety of admission tickets, ranging from concerts to football matches in the UK, given to Israwan by Ong.

A spokesperson for the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) says it will decide on the investigations against Ong after Iswaran’s case is concluded.

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In a letter to PM Lee on Jan 17, Iswaran also said he will return all “monies received by way of salary as Minister and allowances as MP” from the start of the CPIB’s investigations in July 2023. Iswaran had received a reduced pay of $8,500 per month during that period.

PM Lee’s response reads: “I am disappointed and saddened that you are leaving politics in these circumstances. But it is essential that I deal with such matters rigorously in accordance with the law. It is the right thing to do. We must uphold the integrity of the party and the government.”

Iswaran says he is “deeply saddened” to leave his role as MP and that it had been “a privilege” to serve residents of the West Coast for “the past 26 years alongside a dedicated group of grassroots leaders and activists”. 

He concludes: “These past months have been most difficult for my family and me. I am particularly grateful to my family for their enduring love and their unwavering support.”

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