Politicians must work in the interest of the people!
This was the contention of Barbados’ High Commissioner to London Guy Hewitt as he delivered a lunchtime lecture on the topic, Singapore: Barbados’ Mirror Image, at the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s George Street, St Michael headquarters earlier Friday.
While acknowledging that Singapore’s system of government can be described as a benevolent dictatorship because of the absence of a strong opposition, Hewitt praised the political leadership of its founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who he said practised “servant leadership”, where politicians worked in the interest of the people.
“They see their role as facilitating the growth and the development of the society,” Hewitt said, while suggesting that politicians in Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean would do well to adopt this pragmatic approach to leadership, which he said was also a trademark of Barbados’ founding father and late DLP leader Errol Walton Barrow. At the same time, Hewitt, who recently visited the Asian country, pointed out that Singapore’s government ministers and senior civil servants were handsomely paid.
“They work hard; they have a major responsibility and it says to them, we are going to make sure that you do not want for anything while you are working on behalf of the people” the diplomat said, while acknowledging that “the system has expectations from them in return.
“It is about honesty and accountability,” he stressed, while noting that Singapore ranks fifth in the world as one of the least corrupt nations, according to the global watchdog Transparency International.
Hewitt further pointed out that Singapore has in place a Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, under prime minister’s office, that investigates all corruption claims.
In the event the prime minister becomes the subject of a corruption probe, the bureau reports to the president of the country, Hewitt explained, while stressing that in Singapore no one was above the law.
He cited a case where one of the technical heads of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau was thought to have embezzled US$1 million because of a gambling addiction.
According to the High Commissioner, following an investigation by the bureau, the officer was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Hewitt also cited another case where the chief of protocol in the ministry of foreign affairs was sentenced to 15 months in prison after the bureau found out that he had inflated the prices of some goods to the tune of US$89,000. (NC)