Singapore's Indian-origin transport minister S Iswaran was arrested in connection with a rare top-level corruption probe that has also ensnared a billionaire hotel tycoon, the country's anti-graft body stated.
Iswaran was "arrested on July 11, 2023" and "subsequently released on bail", the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said in an emailed statement late Friday, confirming the arrest for the first time.
Commenting on the issue, Singapore Presidential hopeful Tharman Shanmugaratnam expressed his faith in the "Singapore system" to deal with setbacks and to emerge stronger from it.
It’s not the end of his life or end of his future,” he added. Tharman then advised the public not to make judgements at this point. Instead, they should “let the investigation take its course”.
Hotel tycoon Ong Beng Seng, one of Singapore's richest people, was also arrested on the same day and released on bail in connection with the probe, the bureau said.
"As part of bail conditions, subjects' passports are impounded. Subjects on bail can, however, make requests to travel overseas. CPIB will assess such requests on a case-by-case basis," the Singapore daily quoted the CPIB spokesperson as saying.
"CPIB assessed and acceded to Ong's request to travel overseas. Ong's bail quantum was also increased to SGD 100,000. Upon his return, Ong is required to report to CPIB and surrender his passport to the bureau."
The spokesperson declined to provide further details, citing ongoing investigations.
Iswaran (61), is a senior member of the ruling People's Action Party and has been on a leave of absence from his official duties, was assisting the CPIB with an investigation into a case it had uncovered.
Iswaran's political career spans more than 26 years since he was first elected in 1997 as a Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC.
Before he was appointed to the Cabinet in 2006, he was on several government parliamentary committees and was the deputy speaker of Parliament from September 2004 to June 2006.
He has been Minister for Transport since May 2021 and has been concurrently minister-in-charge of trade relations at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) since May 2018.
Before his career in politics, Iswaran worked in both the public and private sectors, including at MTI as well as Temasek Holdings.