29 November 2006

Elections Are Over. Time to Raise Ministers' Salaries!

    ST Nov 29, 2006
    Ministerial pay 'lags behind benchmark'
    But decision on whether to relook salaries rests with PM, says SM Goh

    By Sue-Ann Chia

    BRATISLAVA (SLOVAKIA) - MINISTERS' salaries are pegged to that of the private sector, but they still lag behind the benchmark.

    It is therefore likely that when civil service pay is reviewed, ministers' salaries will also be looked at, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday.

    Last week, the Government indicated that salaries of civil servants are likely to go up as it must keep its wages competitive to recruit and retain talent in a tightening labour market.

    At an interview yesterday wrapping up his visit to Europe, Mr Goh was asked about the likelihood of the pay increase, including for ministers.

    He replied: 'Since the year 2000, six years have gone by with very good growth rates in some of the years, so it's time to have a look at the salary of the civil service as a whole, including the salary of the ministers.'

    Right now, he said, ministers' pay packets are at 50 per cent of the benchmark, when they should be at two-thirds level.

    According to the formula agreed upon for over a decade now, ministerial pay is benchmarked to the salaries of the top earners in six chosen professions. It is set at two-thirds the median income of the top eight earners in each of these six professions - that is, the pay of the individual at the mid-point of the list.
It must be fun being a minister. Because unlike the rest of Singapore, you'll never have a bad year.

What do I mean? Well, let's say a cardiosurgeon in Singapore does very well in his career this year, makes a lot of money and is the top-earning cardiosurgeon this year.

Next year he may not do so well. Maybe he will have fewer patients. Or perhaps he just won't have so many complicated cases, so he has to charge less for doing simpler surgeries. Consequently, he will earn much less.

That's life. Some years are good, some years are not so good.

Ministers, however, have no such problem. Their salary is pegged to whoever is earning most, in a given year. When our top cardiosurgeon is earning a lot, the ministers will peg their salaries to him. When our top cardiosurgeon has a bad year, the ministers will just drop him out of the list.

They will then peg their salaries to some other doctor for whom 2007 does turn out to be a great year (eg the most successful neurosurgeon or oncologist in Singapore, for example).

Don't you just love the subtle phrasing in the following paragraph:
    According to the formula agreed upon for over a decade now, ministerial pay is benchmarked to the salaries of the top earners in six chosen professions.
"According to the formula agreed upon ...".

Heheh. Agreed upon by whom? The people of Singapore? The Opposition MPs? The NMPs? Or just between Lee Kuan Yew and his merry men in white?

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69 comments:

p-case-tales of a coward said...

lol.. sometimes i am thinking, it would be good have them with much lower pay salaries and risked corruption. Will the total amount of salaries for all the minister would be many folds more than the amount of money from corruption? Well, we have someone to watch over them right? if not what are they employed for?

En said...

It's kind of ironic that while Singapore touts itself to be following Confucian Principles, instead of Country above family above self, it's the complete reverse.

Honestly, if I was a minister, would I, in good conscience take a salary that is 100 of times higher than the basic salary man that I'm supposed to serve? So much for the idea that the greatest leader should be the greatest servant. What we have is a fiefdom!

Have any of the ministers ever declined the increase in salary? If it is forced onto them, perhaps they might attempt to donate it to some charity, that would definitely cast them on a better light. But perhaps, they need that huge salary to send their kids overseas for studies...

The tradition of corruption takes place when people abusive the institution which they are placed in. The process which the underworld works to satisfy their lust for money is called corruption because it's illegal. But satisfying the lust for money in the legal sense? No it's not corruption but the end objective is still the same

Farmercee said...

why are we even talking about the link between pay and corruption? if you run a country like a company (yeah, peg away the bonus to gdp growth), don't be surprised when you finally get pple like from enron: highly paid and yet corrupted!!!

civil servants and mini-stars should be different from business leaders. they should have a heart that feels for their people. Not a mouth that just sprout warped mee-siam-mai-hum logic, nor a big fat pocket as well. Since our dear leaders so very promotes asian confucian values, ever heard of liang xiu qing feng?

Anonymous said...

And I absolutely love it when he says PAP is honest to raise GST so soon after elections. But they were not so honest to comment on it during the elections. I used to like and respect SM Goh, but after asking Mr Chiam to request $ from Mr Mah to upgrade his estate, and being snubbed by Mr Mah, my respect from SM Goh tumbled.

Anonymous said...

And our esteemed Manpower minister asked during the elections - Can the opposition prevent the price of oil from rising? I ask all the 80+ PAP ministers - can the PAP members prevent the GST from rising? And will all the poor get the offset measures? or will more of the poor (nobodies) be left behind because they are not contactable, can't read, do not know how to register / deposit $50 into the CPF board, and other bureaucratic nonsense to register for the package. And the really poor will be left further behind, cos they still need to pay the increased GST to the mama shop / papa shop, kopi tiam who will charge more than the 2 percent.

Collector said...

In a word, the "elected" ministers of Singapore have just proved that they are corrupt, not satisfied with their millions, and creating excuses to get more millions.

Rex said...

as measured by many international criteria and as frequently reported repeatedly within Singapore and outside of Singapore, Singapore is by no means a corrupt society, indeed, you would find yourself in deep hot sauce should you allege that any current minister is corrupt.

But of course all this depends on the measurements of "corruptness", which are in my opinion, insufficient. Just as you do are not able to bribe a police man in Japan, you cannot bribe a police man in Singapore. It is possible for you to bribe a police man in Indonesia, however. By extension, then this makes Japan and Singapore non-corrupt societies and Indonesia a corrupt society. This thinking is obviously faulty. I say this as an example and do not allege either corruption nor non-corruption.

If you would so redefine corruption to one which is obviously more definitive and properly reflects the culpability of corrupt acts rather then the magnify the desperate plight of those who commit corrupt acts, I am sure the international rankings of corrupt nations will change drastically. As it stands currently, the desperate plight of the police man trying to feed his family far outweighs the corrupt practices of the world's ruling wealthy elite.

Anonymous said...

Since our economy has being growing well for the past 6 years, all I want to know is when will my employer's CPF contribution be restored? : )

Anonymous said...

Urgent: Dr Chee Soon Juan's health deteriorates in prison

Anonymous said...

ministers salaries should be pegged to performance.

if our major highways continue to be jammed up the transport minister should be paid less.

if our relations with malaysia continue in a downward spiral the foreign affairs dude should have his pay cut.

if we don't have enough babies maybe the PM should be responsible and volunteer to take less.

if we lose money buying shincorp then we better go after the guy who thought it was a good idea in the first place.

that big word, meritocracy should be applied to everyone.

palmist said...

I find the bench mark somewhat puzzling. Why should they be pegging their pay to top earners and not politicians. Is there no one out there who would serve the country for a reasonable pay? It sounds almost silly to think that people would not serve the country if they are not paid according to top rates. Where is the passion and love for the country?

Anonymous said...

Judging from the vehemence of the comments, I'm probably in the minority here but I actually think im getting a great quality of life for the money that i pay (low income and consumption taxes) and the occasional inconveniences that i put up with (censorship, farcical elections and expensive cars). Having lived and worked in different places overseas, I feel grateful to be living here in Singapore - and I know that the Govt (gasp, that actually means ministers too) has a big part to play in this. I enjoy the safety, the public housing, the public transport, the infrastructure, the good schools et al. I have my complaints just like everyone else of course, but ministerial pay isn't one of them.

Mr Wang makes a good point about the risk-free nature of ministerial compensation, which perhaps could use some KPI-type enhancements as suggested by other comments. That being said, it would appear that civil service compensation across all levels is generally stable, and is less subject to the vagaries of broad macroeconomic effects and/or the inherent earnings volatility of a a doctor in private practice. But i can understand why a big part of the appeal of the civil service (beyond the element of public service) is the stable pay and moderate prospects that it promises- I would not expect ministers to think too differently. Given that many of our ministers have the capability (proven or otherwise to greater and lesser degrees) to be highly successful individuals in their own right in the private sector, I think it is important to pay them salaries that are commensurate with the markets most likely to try to poach them - banking, consulting and big business are the first 3 that come to mind. Commensurate does not mean equivalent, and it should never be our intention to make ministerial pay the highest in the land, but it should be reasonable enough to attract men of talent and integrity.

On the issue of who "approved" the ministerial pay, i agree with Mr Wang that the language is highly disingenous. But I'm not exactly sure that other professions have their pay determined entirely by market forces either - most top professions are pretty clubby and are no different from the original guildhouses that protected the different trades in Europe in medieval times. I would not hold our ministers to a higher standard than human nature and it is unsurprising that the men in white have decided to set their (own) salaries at a generous level. The bigger question is whether this poses a major impediment or actually encourages the proper function of government. The jury is still out on this, but it would appear that for now, Singapore isn't doing too badly with the "pay the ministers and civil service well" approach.

The outrage that people are feeling seems to be that ministerial pay is far out of line with the man in the street and must therefore be somehow immoral/ undeserved/ unfair. Perhaps it is, but i fail to see how this is different from the way investment bankers, doctors, CEOs and lawyers also earn salaries that dwarf the average Singaporean. It is simply a fact of market structure, and it doesnt seem very productive to descend into discussions about whether pay is deserved. Only a few of us can very easily justify every cent of our own pay to ourselves - the truth is we just take what we can. But I cannot imagine not paying our ministers a high salary, not least because I am generally pessimistic about human nature. Sure, our ministerial pay compared to most countries would appear to be overly generous - but at least it is largely transparent and accurately quantified to a degree that can only be dreamed about in other countries. Many ministers around the world are rich - regardless of what the data says about their official paychecks. The simple reason for this is that ministers are in the position to use their influence to gather much wealth - regardless of whether they are well paid or not. So it is only a question of whether we pay them well in a regime that actively clamps down on corruption or whether we allow them to "pay" themselves - the end point may appear to be the same but is actually much worse in the latter case because the culture of gross entitlement and open patronage rapidly develops and entrenches itself. One need only look north to gain some truly breathtaking examples.

Apologies for the long posting, is there an easier way to do this without setting up a blog myself?

カイ said...

Since the year 2000, six years have gone by with very good growth rates in some of the years, so it's time to have a look at the salary of the civil service as a whole, including the salary of the ministers.

Isn't it so fair and transparent that as recommended by the National Wage Council, the salaries of peasants should be pegged to their productivity, while the salaries of our Ministers are benchmarked to the salaries of the top earners in the private sector?! I guess the only people who has been hard at work since 2000 are the Ministers themselves! The motherfuckers!

Farmercee said...

hobbes is so funny! he actually thinks lack of freedom and engineered elections are occasional inconveniences! really, could he be lucky tan in disguise?

as his post rambles on and on, let me just pick up one point. he said he failed "to see how this is different from the way investment bankers, doctors, CEOs and lawyers also earn salaries that dwarf the average Singaporean" when he referred to the rocket-high ministerial salaries. my dear hobbes, pls compare apples to apples, doctors to doctors, ministars sg to minstars worldwide... not forgetting that ordinary doctors/lawyers/bankers do not have immense power over the man in the street, unlike politicians. That, you should factor in, and i say, should result in a DISCOUNT in their pay.

Anonymous said...

"individuals in their own right in the private sector, I think it is important to pay them salaries that are commensurate with the markets most likely to try to poach them - banking, consulting and big business are the first 3 that come to mind."

I think you have reversed: nobody in their sound mind would hire them based on their capability; large companies might however want to hire them based on their capacity of ministers/friends of LKY.

The Singapore system is very nice: if you get to be minister you get a high salary for a while, you get a pension instead of getting CPF and because you are minister, companies will court you for your address book.

Which ministers were high-ranking in non Temasek MNCs?

Anonymous said...

To Farmercee: Your point on comparing apples to apples is an excellent one, if only politicians/ ministers possessed the international talent transferability that doctors/ bankers/ lawyers possess. There is no natural market for politicians so assigning a dollar value for what they're worth is tricky, and for the most part we're left with the difficult task of assessing our own. You clearly don't think the ministers deserve their high salaries, and I respect that.

Charles: I agree that it's a chicken and egg situation; i.e. is the minister valued because he is talented or bec he's a minister. No convincing answer there, although the more prominent ministers/ MPs recently have been recruited from the private sector, though I don't think any were high ranking business types from non-Temasek MNCs.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Actually there are many plausible alternative formulas which seems more straightforward to me.

One simple way would be to peg a minister's salary to a permanent secretary of the ministry.

For example, the peg could be like this - the Education Minister gets 30% more than the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education.

Another plausible peg would be to the salaries of ministers in other countries. For example, we could say that PM Lee, for being so clever, should be paid 10% more than the President of the most powerful nation in the world. That is, PM Lee should be paid 110% of US President George Bush's salary.

Alas, neither peg will happen. Why would PM Lee want to take a pay cut?

Daniel said...

It is without doubt that many MPs and ministers have impressive credentials and could have been earning commensurate or higher pay in the private sector. Many of them are/were lawyers or doctors. Thus, it is unsurprising that the PAP needs to use high and stable pay to attract and retain them in the civil service.

The question is whether they are worth the amount of money. But that is another debate altogether. I would say that in some aspects the PAP has performed well (economic growth), but in others it is a complete disappointment (promises to liberalise society).

Farmercee said...

hobbes, it is rather simple actually. Benchmark with the differences in pay between (a selection of )top professions and their politicians in other countries.

Yes, our gahmen so stresses the importance of globalization and how we should lower our pay to be cost competitive. Likewise, they should practise what they preach and use the benchmark with a global factor. Do that, and see how grossly overpaid our gahmen is.

You talk about "talent transferability" across geograhical areas. we should perhaps also consider transferability across different tasks. i don't think top doctors / navy officer are necessarily equipped with the same skill sets to run a country. Hands up, how many doctors took economics, public administration and politics in their uni? LOL....

oh, and before i forget, you know it is not so intransferable geograhically you know. we have our own "foreign-quitter-turned-sinkaporean" mini-star as well... LOL...

yes, bottom line is, if they do not pay themselves so much, they might command more respect.

Anonymous said...

Farmercee: Your idea to benchmark internationally with other top professionals may have the pervese effect of increasing our politicians' salaries, especially if we take into account that doctors/ lawyers may earn more overseas than in Singapore. Also, the total compensation that politicians in other countries receive, if it were actually published, will probably make even the Lee family blush.

Globalization is an interesting point: one of its main features is not only outsourcing and lower wages for some, but also increasingly larger salaries for those at the top of the food chain. The logic of globalization as applied to our ministers would increase their salaries even higher, and I believe this is precisely what is happening. I just happen not to object to it for lack of a better alternative.

As for your point about talent transferability across jobs, I can only say that our civil service is probably one of the most "professional" in the world, if you're going to use the narrow benchmark of having studied economics, law and public policy at some of the finest academic institutions. (why, the government thinks just like you in that respect) And yes, those same naval/ police/ army officers often emerge with those very degrees before taking on their roles as ministers. We'll leave out Eng Hen for the moment since he's the exception to the rule. I don't think our civil service doesn't have its faults, I just don't think pay is one them.

Anonymous said...

"so it's time to have a look at the salary of the civil service as a whole, including the salary of the ministers."

I doubt that those who are currently employed in the civil services will get any pay rise in the review. As their pay are tie to the service scheme that they are in.. e.g. $2000 x 160 - $5000, which simply mean they will get $160 increment every year until the maximum of $5000.

How are the goverment going to give any pay rise? unless they give double increments for next year. Which is highly unlikely..

Mr Wang Says So said...

International salary benchmarking, Hobbes, usually takes into account the cost of living in different countries.

For example, suppose a banker is working in London. His employer wants to post him to Beijing. The HR department will have some method of calculating his compensation, that takes into account the cost of living in London versus the cost of living in China.

In fact that's why Mercer (AFAIK) does an annual review of which cities in the world are the most expensive, the cheapest etc. They sell the detailed research to MNCs which often have to send employees around to different parts of the world.

Anonymous said...

You are right Mr Wang. But speaking only from the perspective of banking salaries which I am more familiar with, I can say that these HR consultants usually reach a number that more than compensates for the true cost of living. The use of benchmarking has in fact enhanced my salary in Singapore due to the high cost of living of my counterparts in London and NY, because the company does not want a situation where nobody wants to work in Asia due to the perceived lower pay. So places like Singapore actually benefit from a pay rise in real terms after such international comparisons are conducted - and this has knock-on effects on competitors pay too.

Anonymous said...

Hello Farmercee,

I'm sorry but why do you wish to discount the salary of politicians just because they wield "immense power over the man in the street"?

Curious about that.

Whilst I share Mr Wang's disquiet over the pay salaries of our politicians here- you should check out what's happening in other places too like Malaysia, Burma, Thailand etc... heck even Australia. Look into it will ya?

Anonymous said...

hobbes said: "at least [our ministerial pay] is largely transparent and accurately quantified to a degree that can only be dreamed about in other countries."

I'm puzzled by this claim--I haven't been able to find data for ministerial salaries more current than those from 2000.

During the Budget debate in March PM said that MOF "does not intend to disclose the salaries of individual Cabinet Ministers."

So the problem is that the government doesn't bother to justify ministerial salaries from the data. Instead it relies on some fuzzy argument about paying competitive salaries.

But if the salaries themselves are not disclosed in the first place, I don't understand how there can even be a starting point for justification and debate.--Whence "transparency"?

simplesandra said...

China's Hu Jintao is paid only 1/126 of what Lee Hsien Loong gets; Japan's Abe Shinzo takes a 30 per cent pay cut (and slices 10 per cent off his ministers' pay) after assuming office.

Our ministers are some of the highest paid in the world - so as to prevent them from becoming corrupt - and they still think it's below the "benchmark"?

Anonymous said...

Interesting argument by Mr Wang.

For the longest time I have ever pondered on this issue, we have never considered that minister salaries have consistently been pegged to whomever happens to be at the top for that year.

If this is put to a referendum, we'll see an overwhelming vote to cut minister salaries by at least 50%.

Now if only some NMP will raise the motion...

Anonymous said...

i'm so disgusted with the increase in minister's salary and their bigger bonus after effectively shrinking out wages via the series of price hikes (bus fares, taxi fares, impending GST hike etc...). it feels like the revenue generated from the GST hike will be nicely channeled into their expanding budget for civil servant's salaries. it leaves a lousy taste in my mouth. yuck, Yuck, YUCK.

insensitive said...

Hi En,

I think you've made a mistake here. Our ministers don't need the salary to send their kids overseas to study. The PSC/SAF takes care of that.

chrischoo said...

I suppose the only justification for high ministerial wages is that these people are probably not allowed to hold multiple directorships like many of their MP colleagues. As such, all the "fringe benefits" that MPs typically enjoy are factored into this massive basic ministerial salary.

One wonders though, why there is a need for 84 MPs to serve a population of just 4.5 million. In some countries, 1 MP represents 4.5 million people or more. Perhaps they should follow our lead? ;)

Farmercee said...

hobbes, you got it so wrong. for e.g. in the states, the top paying professions presumably acting, banking and what-have-you make $x million per year. bush, however, makes less than $1 million a year. hence bush is making x% of what the top professions are making. Apply that x% to sinkapore.

it will be a hoot if our gahmen can get what they are currently getting using this formula...

to yau-mong: of course, there should be a discount! Think of the other benefits they would get when they leave mini-starial office, thanks to their connections. a mild example, mps so very often hold directorships that pay "peanuts". think of dr michael whatzissname, a cardiologist cum ex-pappy mp for pasir ris. he was a director for a company that went into hot soup.

Farmercee said...

to hobbes: this will be my last comment to this post.

On the issue of tranferability across jobs, why are we leaving out eng hen? he is the minister for manpower leh, most relevant to this subject.

as for navy / police officers? how would running military/uniform operations equip the officers the skills to run a country? or even a company for that matter? there are so many army scholars holding high posts in tlc almost immediately upon "retirement"... from i heard from students in mba class, it is laughable....

Mr Wang Says So said...

The other plausible formula is one formerly proposed by Low Thia Kiang. It is to peg ministers' salary to that of low-income Singaporeans.

For example, a minister's pay could be pegged to be 80 times or 90 times that of the average income of a Singaporean in the bottom 20% of society. Eg if the ordinary Singaporeans earns $800 per month , then the minister could get something like $64,000 or $72,000 per month.

Personally speaking, since I work in the derivatives area and get to play with all kinds of complex formulations, I see that it could be quite possible to create some kind of formula which tags ministers' salaries to a variety of factors eg:

(1) annual GDP

(2) unemployment / employment rate in Singapore

(3) standards in various key public services (eg healthcare, transport, education, public housing) - we'll need some sub-formulae here

(4) average income of bottom 40% of Singaporeans etc

(5) etc etc

ie a more broad-based range of factors, which ties ministers' salaries to how well the nation does as a whole

Anonymous said...

actually, what i'd like to know is how many of our ministers had salaries like this (in the private sector*) before they became ministers? how many can get the same or more if they leave? how many have NEVER worked in the private sector before (which means we have no gauge)?

it would be interesting to know if they are really worth that much. since they believe that if they left for the private sector* they'll command more money.

and the reasoning that you need pay like this to get 'talented people' into politics so contradictory as (if i'm not wrong) the PAP stated that it is very difficult for them to find good new blood.

*private sector does not include any gahmen linked companies.

Kevin said...

talk about hikes all round, lowering of personal income tax and corporate taxes, and then increasing ministers' pay? so what is this really all about? isn't it too conveniently coincidental already? peg to private sector! right! lol! are they forgetting what they are? civil servents. show me the servitude...

lee hsien tau said...

The petition of appeal was filed on 21st November. Mr Wang, feel free to check it out on law-net. This comment is about to be deleted by Mr Wang in .... seconds?

Anonymous said...

Back to basics question: where should we place the Ministers vis-a-vis the larger community? Should they be performing responsibilities similar to the head honchos of private sector? Or would we expect more out of our nation's leaders?

The rationale as PM Lee and his predecessors once quoted for pegging Ministerial salaries to the top 6 professionals is that such a practice shall ensure that the public sector remains competitive as employer vis-a-vis the private sector. However, we need to get back to the drawing board and question really the kind of message we are sending out potential candidacy out there - should one's paycheck be a major concern when one decides whether to serve one's country? Call me an idealist I like to see more charismatic leaders such as Gandhi or Franklin Roosevelt in Singapore rather than play it safe technocrats. And much despite the pragmatic concerns of a capitalistic society, I like to think there are people who are passionate about serving their nation out there. Monetary rewards aren't gonna attract people of such calibre. Rather the relevant question is whether there is room amongst the gahmen for such charismatic members who may not be the typical 'Yes' man or woman.

As for the suggested application of KPI in public sector, methinks it would be challenging to ensure the transparency of such a measure in a predominantly one party nation.

Recruit Ong said...

going by michael porter's comments ytd, we should be building up our SMEs. And if we do so, then lets cut these talented ministers lose so that they can go to the SMEs and private sector (non-GLC) and let them shine for all Sporeans to see. We will then see first hand how capable and talented they really are. Honestly i think all won't be able to make it hahaha!

KiWeTO said...

Hmm...

can the owners of Singapore Inc(SG citizenry) hire and fire ministers as they well choose, when they well choose? Do senior managers/Board of directors get to influence their own pay?

Or is it done every 5 or so years without much choice/competition??

What 'qualifications' did these ministers have to possess to become a minister? (besides integrity and "incorruptibility"?)

I agree that we cannot tarr the ministers as being corrupt, because the defintion of corruption is usually meant to be a 3rd party wanting special favours.

However, in our case, it appears that it has become a situation where the state is the one doing the "corrupting"; by paying overly high wages not comparable to the general society, the individuals in public service are then "beholden" to the system and will make decisions in the best interest of the system/state.
(see my post on Legalism and the political ideology of Singapore,INC)


On one hand, it does make ministers generally 'immune' to corruption (wah, must pay so much to get them to side with me?!); on the other hand, they do get cushy parachutes after their ministerial appointments in various large listed firms.

compared to politicians from other countries, ours get equivalent private-sector pay while being ministers (while in other countries, they get paid a pittance comparably); when all politicians leave public service, they all get cushy jobs in large firms hoping to influence (legally) the positions various governments take.

C'est la vie. Our ministers cannot stay in touch with the common man, simply because they don't live like the common man. (when will we ever see a minister live like the average singaporean and take the bus to Parliament for not just a photo-op day?)

nobody's guarding our guardians... unfortunately, we have even bigger limitations in terms of political governance than most other companies have issues with ethics and corporate governance. (see enron and other 400x common man CEO paychecks in corporate america).

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Singapore, INC indeed.
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

E.o.M.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Mr. Wang:
I agree that Low Thia Kiang's proposal to peg minister's pay to the lower-income group plus X-factor is definitely a better way to go. This will encourage them to lift the lower strata income and welfare.

I also want to remind all of us here about what David Marshall thought about PAP's high-salaried public servants," I never earned $60,000 a month or $90,000 a month. When I was Chief Minister, I earned $8,000 a month. Look, what is happening today is we are encouraged to and are becoming worshippers of the Golden Calf.

We have lost sight of the joy and excitement of public service, helping our fellow men. The joy and excitement of seeking and understanding of the joy of the miracle of the living the duty and the grandeur. We have lost taste for heroic action in the service of our people.We have become good bourgeois seeking comfort, security."
It is found on
http://nofearsingapore.blogspot.com/2006/10/lessons-from-beyond-gravewhat-two.html

Dr.Huang

whybegay said...

If people think that earners with high salaries would not do their jobs well, then one might as well go to low-earning lawyers and doctors for their cheapo services.

It is only the cheapo cheep people who thinks cheep things are always good, don't understand about ^high^ quality and ^high^ standards.

Of course these people are too lowly-aware of the world to recognise such things.

Anonymous said...

To whybegay:

Don't be a retard. Politicians such as ministers are PUBLIC SERVANTS. They should not be motivated by money; it'll make them self-serving and attract their own kind too. Eventually, they will churn out self-serving policies that affect us all.

It's happening right now.

Also, they got a NERVE to associate their pay with the private sector. In the private sector, you screw up or don't perform to expectations, OUT THE FUCK YOU GO.


THAT'S accountability and transparency. The PAP has none. The reassurances of a bloody old senile fool going around saying 'we're open, we're transparent' like a broken record - that's not accountability, that's a grand exercise in self-delusion.

whybegay said...

Lights are on but is anyone home? Body is alive but is the brain dead?

Politicians such as ministers are are different from paid social workers who are Members of Parliament(MPs) and NMPs.

You might as well say all civil servants must receive low pay because all of them are serving the public.

Ministers in other countries are paid less but they receive alot of donations and free gifts.

Top jobs must pay top salaries. Since Singaporeans like to think they are the top ranked in the world, then ministers' pay must also be the top ranked in the world too!

simplesandra said...

whybegay wrote: "You might as well say all civil servants must receive low pay because all of them are serving the public."

No one is saying civil servants must be paid pittance; they just shouldn't be paid obscene sums of money to justify them staying in the public sector. Talent or not, self-serving politicians whose hearts aren't in serving their voters shouldn't be in office in the first place.

whybegay wrote: "Ministers in other countries are paid less but they receive alot of donations and free gifts."

I hope you didn't mean a "bribe", which is frowned upon (if not illegal) in most countries. Politicians have perks, but then again, so do those here.

whybegay wrote: "Since Singaporeans like to think they are the top ranked in the world, then ministers' pay must also be the top ranked in the world too!"

Top-ranked? Don't be silly. The US is a superpower, and look how much does a US President get compared to Lee Hsien Loong? China has one of the fastest growing economies in the world (not to mention is also an emerging power) and Hu Jintao's salary is only a fraction of our PM's.

simplesandra said...

kiweto wrote: "(see enron and other 400x common man CEO paychecks in corporate america)."

The thought of having a Carly Fiorina for our minister is chilling enough. ;-)

family man said...

From SM Goh speech

http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20061128999.htm

I quote :The first is to keep our cost competitive. In 2003, we took decisive steps to reduce the cost of doing business in Singapore. Wages were made more flexible, with an increasing portion tied to the performance of the company, while employers’ contributions to social security were trimmed. In the public service, a portion of our remuneration is now tied to GDP growth. Officers receive different performance bonuses. Likewise for ministers and other political office-holders.

My economics is not very good, but this year, they raise the GST, hold other govt charges for one year. (Based on what Tharman said) Next FEW year, they increase the govt charges at twice the pace, and the GDP increases astronomically and the ministers all get a fat bonus at our expense. Is this public service?

Anonymous said...

How interesting that to the group of the ruling elite, peasants pay are actually pegged to that of China and India, and considered exceeding the benchmark as according to some MIW, we are actually more expensive than those in the United State.

The Human Battery said...

whybegay wrote: "Ministers in other countries are paid less but they receive alot of donations and free gifts".

1. "Donations and free gifts" do NOT come from taxpayer's money. It's from private individuals or corporations. Ministers's salaries come from taxpayer. Can you not tell the diff?

2. "Donations and free gifts" do NOT total up to $1,500,000 every year for X years. It is often of smaller quantity, and in any case is irregular. Moreover, if illegal, it cannot be enjoyed openly and may even lead to prosecution one day. What we have here is legalised continuous corruption. Can you not tell the diff? ut of course you can. You are simply a govt supporter out to confuse people with half truth and distortion...

The Human Battery said...

> It must be fun being a minister. Because unlike the rest of Singapore, you'll never have a bad year.

Well, to its credit, pap - under lky - is still holding its ministers somewhat accountable: if you are too bad, you will be asked to retire, just like this guy was asked to? :)

The sad thing is that such accountability depends on who is in charged, and not on check and balance. I am not sure if it will still work when lky is no longer in charged.

Kevin said...

what David Marshall said a while back certainly holds more true these days, doesn't it? I was listening on to a friend just last night and he said this which pretty much resonated within, he said leaders should be placed not over and on top of people but "below" them to push the people up to higher ground along with themselves. That's the servitude that David Marshall talked about and that's what is really lacking in our leadership. That the leadership has grown fat and decadent, lacking the heart and love in service for the people.

zHuAz said...

Ah leadership. Yes, you will find here the definition of leadership, which definitely brings the current Singapore definition into question.

http://lemondroplets.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!26F399664A850E81!530.entry

whybegay said...

Simplesandra wrote:

No one is saying civil servants must be paid pittance; they just shouldn't be paid obscene sums of money to justify them staying in the public sector. Talent or not, self-serving politicians whose hearts aren't in serving their voters shouldn't be in office in the first place.

Top-ranked? Don't be silly. The US is a superpower, and look how much does a US President get compared to Lee Hsien Loong? China has one of the fastest growing economies in the world (not to mention is also an emerging power) and Hu Jintao's salary is only a fraction of our PM's.


How many people can we find that are smart and dedicated enough to be prime minister of Singapore? Such limited number of talent deserve the top dollar for such a persevering job(handling ugly and stupid whiners).

Hello? Singapore is not a superpower like the US and China, that is why the salary has to compensate for the lack of superpower our prime minister has. Our ministers have to be paid to buy themselves their own superpower.

George Bush has Air Force One and White House but what does Lee Hsien Loong have?

Human Battery, do you know how much an anti-missile plane and its maintenence can cost? Tens of millions a year is the answer. Do you honestly think private institutions like SIA will donate one of its planes to be Lee Hsien Loong's Air Force One?

We must pay him more so he can buy his own plane rather than upgrade the Istana to include features the White House has.

Do you know how much maintaining Air Force One, security, secret service, and the White House already costs? Hundreds of US millions. What LHL receive as compared to this is peanuts.

Whispers from the heart said...

Why do I have this feeling whybegay and Lucky Tan is the one and same?

Since we are at it, we should also pay another 2-3% more for LHL to bomb the middle east as well.

Why bother to cut deals with them? Just invade them and make them one of Harry's island (or hinterland, whatever).

How to be superpower if we don't show off our military might in some oil-rich countries?

Anonymous said...

By their implication, the PAP is suggesting that regimes around the world that isn't paying like they do are attracting corrupt politicians.

It just does not make sense; I would rather those whom are attracted to office only by the salary to go to the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Maybe both the establishment and its critics are missing the point by concentrating on salaries as a recruitment instrument for the public service?

Perhaps we could look at how non-monetary incentives can be applied to recruit and retain talent.

I've written an article on this; feedback is welcome, as always: :)

Public Service Salaries: Expanding the Discussion

Anonymous said...

Ah, now we know why they want to raise GST.

I find it troubling that the "decision rests with PM" as though we're treating him like a god.

Here's a good idea, my good comrades. The secret police are given far too little powers to combat threats to national security. Of course, the decision rests with Comrade Stalin.

Other countries have constitutional terms for this, e.g. the US Constitution's 27th amendment:

"No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened."

That is, any pay raises are for the *next* assembly, although of course in Singapore (and some long-running legislators in the US) most politicians have confidence in being the next one.

But here in Singapore, wow! The entire salary structure can be set by one man! I don't think even CEOs in corporations have such power.

I would say "peg it to 4x to 5x the minimum wage" .... if we had a minimum wage.

Whybegay, well, that's part of the budget to protect the leader of the nation .... Congressmen don't get the same protection. Besides, unlike a salary, the president of the US can't decide to buy a post-presidential mansion with the funds for his personal security.

zHuAz said...

Sigh, ok guys, try this:

http://lemondroplets.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!26F399664A850E81!266.entry

Cry Freedom said...

"how many of our ministers had salaries like this" -
FYI, Wong Kan Seng was drawing $3000 a month as personnel manager at HP when he joined the PAP.

JoE said...

as Mrs Goh would say, what's the fuss about, the money's only peanuts...

Mike Takena said...

I hope those who have commented didn't have a chance to vote in the past election, or voted for WP.

If you have voted for PAP, you shouldn't really complain.

A lesson learnt and everyone should move on.... next election, vote in some NON PAP people. What we need is change... We do not have enough people to challenge the govt and kick a fuss.... Even if we cannot avoid GST,at least opposition will give them a hard time to justify....

Now SG is like America under Bush's rule... every damn policy get passed very easily.... Americans are pissed about their president... so are we about our leaders... So VOTE FOR CHANGE!!

Anonymous said...

It's not just about the voting: we need a more participatory and involved democracy.

I dislike the sentiment of "well you voted for the PAP, you don't have the right to complain". Rather it should not be "now you know your mistake. Don't vote for them next time". It's almost as bad as the "if you don't have any solutions to offer, don't criticise" argument. (Which is fallacious.)

JoE said...

john, if we are not allowed to go on strike or go on a protest demonstration, and our complaints fall on deaf ears, what else is there to do? in a perfect world, the government we voted for should listen to the voice of the people and work with them - that's what democracy is about. if all else fail, our only weapon is our voting ticket. that's why we have elections.

Anonymous said...

Ooops, major typo ... I meant "rather it should be", not "rather it should not be".

Yes, voting is a weapon of course. Now I hope you concur with me.

And if the government refuses to allow participation - organise economically. If the government refuses to upgrade opposition ward lifts, pool money among the residents and do it ourselves.

Then we know that the government has lost its mandate and does not represent ourselves: we can truly say it's "taxation without representation", for we are paying for our own services, and use that to justify the suspension of tax payments.

Anonymous said...

*we can use that, pardon

Paladin said...

cannot lah...lau lee said already...

no other party except lightning party can rule sg...if not we will go to Hell and singapore will sink into the south china see...sian loh...

i is singaporean. but must talk carefully. changi prison got no internet.

JoE said...

i realised singaporeans in general like to complain and whine (and that including myself). i hear it at work, at home, at the coffeeshop, in a taxi, in the straits times forum, in internet forums, and even right here.

my question is, can we actually do something constructive instead? i'm not talking about taking to the streets in protest or going on a mass hunger strike like our dear Mr Chee. i'm thinking more like actually getting our voice heard and bringing our message across to the relevant Party.

can we not start a petition, for example, against the rising pay of our ministers if we feel justified? i'm aware that as individuals, we're powerless, but collectively, it might be a different story. if the pen is really mightier than a sword, imagine how mighty a thousand pens could be.

Anonymous said...

The PAP does little to listen. There are more powerful ways of democracy than starting a petition. A petition is only useful if it initiates a referendum, or is required for some other citizen-based initiative (e.g. Switzerland).

Rather then, we must reject the PAP as our government and move to create our own. A government after all, is based on the consent of its governed.

Has the majority of Singapore consented to its mandate? One cannot exclude a valid voter from the voting pool just because of a walkover; under this condition, the PAP has never in fact, won the majority of votes of eligible voters. In 1959 the PAP won 281,000 votes out of an electorate of 580,000 - short of a majority. On 1963 it was 272,000 out of 617,000. From then on it was relying on walkover votes.

The majority of Singaporeans have never in fact formally consented to the PAP government!

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