The Formula One show will go on in Singapore from September 15 to 17 despite an ongoing corruption probe into the country’s Indian-origin Transport Minister S Iswaran, who promoted the Singapore Grand Prix, according to a minister.
Iswaran, 61, and chairman of Singapore Grand Prix (GP) Ong Beng Seng are being investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in connection with Formula One (F1) racing.
Ong and Iswaran were arrested in July and subsequently released on bail as part of a CPIB probe. Both are key figures in making Singapore’s pitch to become a part of the Formula One circuit, with the tycoon owning the rights to the Singapore GP.
Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng said, “The show goes on. And I can tell you that if you look at all of the events, everything is moving at full speed.” “Based on our ticket sales, it is very promising. I think this is going to be an exciting event moving forward,” Channel News Asia quoted Tan as saying.
Billionaire businessman Ong, 77, is often credited with playing a key role in a deal struck in 2007 between the Singapore Tourism Board and then-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, to bring the motorsport’s first night race to the country.
Ong owns the rights to the Singapore Grand Prix and is chairman of race promoter Singapore GP.
The contract for Singapore to host the F1 Grand Prix for another seven years was signed last year – the fourth renewal and longest extension.
Iswaran has been actively involved in the government’s engagements with F1, including making appearances at press conferences where announcements about the event’s future have been made.
On Sunday, Tan declined to comment on the ongoing investigations.
“As far as the investigations, they are still ongoing, so I don’t think I should comment on them. Neither am I able to comment on them anyway,” he said.
“So, let’s wait for the authorities to come out. But I think this event promises to be one where everyone will remember,” he added.
Last Tuesday, race organisers said that attendance at this year’s F1 Singapore Grand Prix is expected to dip by 17 per cent due to the closure of the Bay Grandstand as part of efforts to redevelop ‘The Float @ Marina Bay’, a floating platform-based stadium.
“There’s no holding back of any other events whatsoever. Based on our ticket sales, it is very promising. I think this is going to be an exciting event moving forward,” The Straits Times newspaper quoted Tan as saying on the sidelines of the Italian Grand Prix live screening at the HDB Hub in the Toa Payoh public housing estate on Sunday.
Race promoters Singapore GP announced on Tuesday that 16 out of 23 categories for the night race are sold out, while nearly all hospitality packages have been taken up.
Some 250,000 spectators are expected over the three days – a 17 per cent drop from the record turnout of 302,000 in 2022.
But Tan, who took over as minister-in-charge of the F1 event, is confident “an exciting slew of activities” will make up for the dip in capacity and make the event one to remember, even as the organisers managed to add 10,000 tickets back into the inventory.
(Published 04 September 2023, 02:42 IST)