The issuance of a "stern warning" for the contractor who "erroneously" cleared a group of forested land parcels in Kranji Woodland near the end of last year will not necessarily "be the end of all that is to be", said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Friday.
He spoke in Parliament in response to a question from Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng, who asked what specific consequences were intended by the issuance of a "stern warning", among a flurry of others on the matter filed by other MPs.
NParks will have statutory powers to take responsible parties to task for further wrongdoing uncovered
Chan said that "at this point", NParks and Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) will conduct respective investigations to determine if there have been further "wrongdoings" committed in the clearing of the forests.
"[Subsequent to the investigations], if there are any other wrongdoings uncovered by NParks investigations, NParks will have the statutory powers to take the responsible parties to task, and the penalties for those are laid out in the respective Acts.
And so it doesn't mean that the stern warning is the end of all that is to be."
"We can and must do better"
Chan also said he has instructed all agencies involved in land clearance projects to conduct immediate checks to ensure their project supervision and implementation processes are in order.
He added that Permanent Secretary for Defence Development Joseph Leong has been tasked with leading a review of the lessons arising from this episode.
"We can and must do better," said Chan. "The outcomes from the various investigations and review will be shared with the public when ready."
The minister said Leong will also be looking into ways the processes currently in place for inter-agency projects like this can be streamlined with clearer lines of accountability and responsibility.
"And if people are not up to the task, we have to ask ourselves, how do we equip them, train them to do their job better."
However, he said that ultimately, "no matter how many rules we have", what is important are "people with the right values".
"And I say this particularly for the public service — people with the right values, who are conscious of their duties, determined to execute it well and constantly find areas to improve when the need arises. I have every confidence that I have such a public service in service of Singapore."
Chan added that he is confident the relevant people and agencies will "look at [the issue] thoroughly, learn the lessons, and improve."
"Because when I speak to the officers in JTC and NParks, and when I look at them in the eye. I know, I have seen in their eyes, the fire in their belly, that they want to put this right.
I am sure that even if I have not tasked them to do so, they themselves would want to get it right and improve."
Top image from CNA.