If anyone wants proof that paying civil servants high salaries is no guarantee of warding off corruption, he need look no further than the morality tale of of ex-PAP MP Choo Wee Khiang. The astonishing revelation is that he allegedly took a bribe of US$200 for approving the use of two training venues in China by the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA). Is there no limit to stooping down for greed?
Choo was head of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) for nearly 20 years, an appointment which probably came about by way of his political affiliation. Credited with Singapore's silver medal success at the 2008 Olympics, he also held other appointments like general manager of the Marina Bay Golf Club. The official endorsements enabled him to con a secondary school principal into engaging STTA for training services which were never delivered.
The question on everyone's lips is how such a shady character was admitted into parliament. Well, he was the MP for Marine Parade and Jalan Besar GRCs from 1988 to 1999, another shining proof of the failings of the GRC system.
Choo made headlines for other dubious reasons while holding political office. In an odious speech made in Mandarin during a parliament session in 1992, he actually mouthed this, "One evening, I drove to Little India and it was pitch dark but not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around." The Singapore Government then, for reasons undisclosed, chose not to act against him for breach of parliamentary privilege, even though the utterance was hideously racist.
Choo lost his MP position in 1999 only after pleading guilty to a charge of abetting his brother-in-law to cheat a finance company by issuing false invoices worth $1,000,000 in 1990. Which means from 1990 to 1999, while he was wearing white and white, his heart was as dark as the night he drove into Little India. Under false colours, he was re-elected to office in 1991 and 1997, bearing the imprimatur of the PAP. In spite of being jailed and fined in 1999, this ex-convict and unrepentant racist was publicly honoured with the International Olympic Committee President's Trophy in 2009.
Malaysia's Public Service director-general Tan Sri Abu Bakar Abdullah just announced a performance-based remuneration scheme which gives government employees a pay rise of 7% to 13%. If he thinks that will help fight corruption in the civil service ranks, he should pay attention to the Singapore example.