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Curbing Corruption in Singapore: The Importance of Political Will, Expertise, Enforcement, and Context

Different Paths to Curbing Corruption

ISBN: 978-1-78190-730-6, eISBN: 978-1-78190-731-3

ISSN: 0732-1317

Publication date: 26 November 2013


Corruption was a serious problem in Singapore during the British colonial period and especially after the Japanese Occupation (February 1942–August 1945) mainly because of the lack of political will to curb it by the incumbent governments. In contrast, the People’s Action Party (PAP) government, which assumed office in June 1959 after winning the May 1959 general election, demonstrated its political will with the enactment of the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) in June 1960, which strengthened the capacity of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) to combat corruption effectively. Indeed, Singapore’s success in curbing corruption is reflected in its consistently high scores on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from 1995 to 2012 as the least corrupt country in Asia. Singapore was ranked first with Denmark and New Zealand in the 2010 CPI with a score of 9.30. Similarly, Singapore has been ranked first in the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) annual surveys on corruption from 1995 to 2013. Why has Singapore succeeded in minimizing the problem of corruption when many other Asian countries have failed to do so? What lessons can these countries learn from Singapore’s experience in combating corruption? This chapter addresses these two questions by first describing Singapore’s favorable policy context, followed by an identification of the major causes of corruption during the British colonial period and Japanese Occupation, and an evaluation of the PAP government’s anti-corruption strategy.


Quah, J.S.T. (2013), "Curbing Corruption in Singapore: The Importance of Political Will, Expertise, Enforcement, and Context", Different Paths to Curbing Corruption (Research in Public Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 137-166.



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