The CPIB has never been so much in the news as it has been recently. In the first case, it was asked by the Prime Minister to investigate the circumstances surrounding the rental of the Ridout Road bungalows to two ministers. It did so, and reported the findings to the Prime Minister.

In the second case, it was the CPIB director himself who approached the Prime Minister about starting a formal investigation involving a minister. The PM concurred.

Much less is known about the powers of the elected President in these circumstances. If the PM had not concurred with the CPIB director’s professional opinion, the director can approach the President for the go-ahead. This is a significant safeguard because the CPIB is under the Prime Minister’s Office. In the hierarchy, the Director works under the direction of the PM. But this leaves open the possibility of abuse if the Prime Minister decides on a cover-up to keep friends and colleagues (or himself) from being investigated.

Under the constitution the President also has the power to approve or not approve the appointment of the CPIB head, to ensure no conflict of interest. This power is one reason for the election - and not appointment - of a president. He must have the people’s mandate in case he has to contradict the PM. Let me be clear, this role is not just ceremonial - for shaking hands or waving.

A link to the Ministerial Statement by SM Teo Chee Hean on the Review of the Rentals of State Properties at 26 and 31 Ridout Road on 3 July 2023 at Parliament can be found below. In which he stated: "Moreover, the Director of CPIB can go directly to the President if the Prime Minister stops him from investigating a possible crime – the Constitution provides the CPIB Director that right".



Lights on Istana

Through ‘Lights on Istana’ we hope to bring clarity to the facts and foster constructive discourse on the key themes of the upcoming Presidential Election.