Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Singapore ministerial salaries - 2012

Ministerial Salaries Review

The current debate on ministerial salaries exposes the myth of  PAP's sacrifice when none of the cabinet ministers or MPs offers to return the excess money taken over the past years. Strategically, PAP loses an excellent opportunity to gain the trust of the people and capture the advantage in the next election by failing to return the excess money.  This is a political blunder that could possibly cost the PAP the next election. PAP loses the moral high ground when their leaders talk about values, integrity and working for the good of the people.

The goal of paying obscene salaries to attract talents is lost when the scholar politicians act and speak like amateurs lacking dignity or clarity. How many times do they have to retract their statements and explain at great length that they were "misunderstood or quoted out of context"? Are these scholars the "betterest" that PAP could attract to chart the future of the country?  If they cannot say what they mean, then they do not mean what they say.

Singaporeans are no longer naive or dumb to blindly accept  lame excuses. Besides, the public can review video clips of speeches posted on youtube repeatedly and judge for themselves if these talented politicians are misquoted. Thanks to the new media and modern technology we no longer can be fooled by biased reports from a single government controlled main media.

Using benchmarks and complicated formula to compute ministerial salaries is ridiculous and a conflict of interest. It only encourages ministers to focus on methods of enhancing their salaries rather than working towards the good of the country. For example, the previous formula was based on GDP growth and the government imported more than 1 million FTs to jack up the GDP. This policy resulted in a huge strain on the infrastructures with higher housing cost, traffic congestion, transportation breakdowns, higher cost of living and related social problems.

There should be no complicated formulas, just plain old fashion method of setting salaries compatible with leaders of other developed countries. Allow people with passion to come forward to serve, not mercenaries. Life should be made simple, not more complicated, that
leaves more time for ministers to do their proper jobs.

The entry level of S$1.1 million salary for minister is more than twice the salary of President Obama of USA. In fact the top 30 highest paid politicians in the world are all from Singapore.  In comparison, more than 90% of the working population is earning less than 4% of a minister's salary and most of them do not make a $1 million in their entire working life. The wage gap is so obscenely wild that it defies decency and common sense.

It is reasonable that politicians should be better paid than ordinary working citizens. However,if a politician getting $1.1 Million and yet be concerned shows that person is incapable of managing his/her own finance and a poor mentor for society.

In Canada, there are politicians who literally live on welfare money for at least three months to verify if the welfare money is adequate and also to experience the plight of the ordinary citizens. Is there a Singapore politician who is willing to walk the walk and and take on - " The welfare challenge"? How can we expect a politician who does not wonder out of his/her elite comfort zone to truly understand the plight of a citizen making less than 4% of his/her salary?

This policy of paying obscene salaries for talents is a time bomb that eventually will bring about the demise of the government. How many $1M+ jobs can the government provide for every scholar working for the government and how many new positions can the government create to cater for these scholars when they leave their ministerial posts. Eventually the $1M+ salary would be the standard for all scholars in all government positions, not only as ministers. This top heavy social structure will crumple and create social disorder, dissent and unrest. It is a toxic can of worms that should not be opened in the first place.

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius.

The greed of Wall Street caused the global financial crisis that crippled the economies of many developed countries. The justifications given by Wall Street for their obscene salaries are similar to those reasons given by PAP, i.e. to attract the best people and retain talents. Let us hope that the PAP would not bring the country down a similar disastrous path.

PAP should spend more time inculcating values, integrity and character as part of education. The heavy emphasis on academic excellence with tempting offers of $1M+ salaries will develop a society striving on unrealistic dreams. Quality of life is more important than a materialistic propelled lifestyle.

I live in Vancouver, a city with a higher cost of living than Singapore and yet I can live comfortably on less than $50,000 a year.  I am not a scholar, just a school dropout. Presently retired, I live a decent and respectable lifestyle on less than $24,000 a year. This shows that you do not need to have $1MILLION+ a year to be happy.

View from the house I built for less than the price of a 4 room HDB, less than one hour away from Vancouver.

Wing Lee Cheong


  1. well written. if only more Singaporeans read this post. The part about GDP is especially true. Keep us informed that we may be wise to know between bullshit and the truth.

  2. My articles will not be published by Straits Times and other government papers. The way to overcome this is for people like yourself to forward from to friends to friends. Apparently this method seems to be working quite well.

  3. ;( that picture just made me so sad, and envious.
    I'm a 28 year old single female poly lecturer about to start my application for PR to australia, so worried my skills won't be recognised there.. hoping for the best.

  4. @May14,

    All the best to you but whatever you do, stay positive. It took me a long time to get to where I am.

  5. i agree... the politicians are paid absurd..while the ground ppl are paid real peanuts... i too have left SGP with my family ... but to the US.. due to work... i hope one day to retire in Canada too...

  6. Hi, not sure if your surname is Lee or Cheong, surely its not Wing. anyway Mr .... , I am very glad to see your blog. when i googled Trafalgar School , I came across your blog. then manage to read through many of your comments and experiences. Sadly I am one of those who will regret not migrating. coming to 50 this year, I will just enjoy reading your blog. many of my friends have migrated either to Australia, US , UK or 1 to Canada. I still wished I had gon to Aussie. Sighhhhh