FOR the second week running, alleged indiscretions of high-ranking men have been making the headlines.

On Tuesday, it was former Central Narcotics Bureau director Ng Boon Gay's turn in court. He is alleged to have used his position to gain sexual favours.

Ng is said to have obtained oral sex four times from Ms Cecilia Sue Siew Nang, a sales manager seeking government contracts for information technology vendors.

His court date follows that of Peter Lim Sin Pang, the former Singapore Civil Defence Force commissioner who was charged with similar offences last week. Lim faces 10 counts of corruption involving sex with women executives seeking government contracts for their companies.

What's the buzz?

THE duo are but the most recent examples of what has been a steamy year for high-ranking Singaporean men.

Indeed, Singapore has never had such a slew of sex scandals crop up around the same time.

In February, former Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong was expelled from the Workers' Party amid allegations of extra-marital affairs.

In April, 48 men - including a school principal and those holding prominent positions in the private sector - were accused of having sex with an underage prostitute in an online vice ring.

While the spotlight in the latest cases has mostly been trained on corruption, there are increased murmurings on the issue of promiscuity and sexual morality in Singapore.

Is the sudden sordid spike a reflection of a gradual decline in moral standards? Or is it simply a by-product of the extra scrutiny that people in powerful positions are being subjected to?

Why it matters

AS THE sex scandals involve prominent or high-ranking men, the cases are focusing attention on the issue of sex and power.

The scandals not only raise debate on the question of whether morals in Singapore are degenerating, but also promise to spark discussion on what kind of standards and values leaders are expected to uphold in their personal lives.

Would society treat a personal indiscretion as a private affair? Or are leaders expected to live by higher moral standards than ordinary men?

Was it the seeking out of illicit sex or abuse of power to obtain it that most bothered people following the cases?

So far, the attention that this year's high-profile cases have attracted appears to indicate that Singapore society expects more from their leaders and those in positions of authority.

Certainly, in the case of the vice ring, the involvement of more prominent men had drawn greater disapproval than that of others.

That's a paradox for the powerful to keep in mind: While their position is likely to open them to more opportunity and greater temptation, that same position demands a higher moral standard.

 

What's next?

WITH the public radar now tuned to pick up similar cases - and more than six months to go - it may well be that the year of sex scandals is not yet at its end.

But what's also significant is how Singaporeans see the issue of sex and power - something that might be seen in the way the public responds to the ongoing court cases and what happens after.