Not for love of money, but of Humanity. "Greater is he who works for the good of all, then he who works for the good of himself only" ~ Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"- (NIV). I live in Singapore where the Emperor must not be disturbed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rethinking Formula for Singapore Ministerial Salaries

So long as our Ministers remain paid proportional to the highest 8 earners in the 6 best paid professions, the life of Singaporeans can never be expected to be too good.
This is because then Ministers would be much too pro business, sharing the same mercenary (profit at all costs- i.e. Profit Above Principle/ 'PAP') ideals as CEOs are oft accused of.
We all know that for most part, a CEO's key KPIs are that of company profitability- which is what essentially determines their salaries.
Thus said, it would be better if PAP could find a better way of pegging ministerial salaries factoring in the median of all Singaporean's salaries (possibly including those overseas)- whilst making these calculations transparent.
Though such a new calculation would result in relatively lower salaries then the currently overheated PAP determined ones, a new scheme would go far in convincing all Singaporeans that their leaders are not like any other exploitative CEO (recall many an irresponsible banker CEOs, BP CEO Hayward etc- whose profit minded objectives oft compromise the integrity of society at large, are accused of overworking and under paying workers, polluting the env. etc) but are citizen's true chosen leaders, not exploiters of Singaporean labour but leaders trusted by all to maintain social stability and economic progress, especially for our future generations; - unlike notorious CEOs whose companies are not just bankrupt but also require government bailouts to avoid 'spillover effects'.
What better election show of a good character is there but but frugality on part of a leader, as our nation weathers crisis after crisis.

Whilst SG is unique in many ways, we are not immune to natural limits e.g: "Whatever we do when we get extraordinary rains like we had recently, no amount of engineering can prevent flooding... unless you want to lose half the roads and have canals." ~ MM Lee, ST 22July 2010 [link].
Novel as our Ministerial salary schemes may be, nature and logic dictates that Corrupt officials would be corrupt, no matter how much they are paid, how sustainable is it for SG to pay our Ministers not to be corrupt?

The most true and talented Singaporeans, especially those not out to earn a quick buck would then feel comfortable either in civil service or in government and Singaporeans wouldn't be unreasonable in their expectations of their leaders so long as they feel that all are in it together and for the long term.
For most, an excessive pay doesn't confer much quality-of-life improvement. In anycase, for the really talented, surely they would be able to earn a comfortable living post retirement having done well in government service, as public speech requests and book sales would only be one too many. Without the title of 'Minister Mentor/ Senior Minister' the impact of their opinions about society would be equally resounding, no matter what appointment prefix they have.
As for those whose esteem is so dependent on the size of their salary, let them foray into the focused world of business. In the midst of a committed government elected by a wise and knowledgeable populace, they would find politicians then hard to bribe. May that be the national future we can proudly all look forward to.

- [AFP22Jul2010]: 'Flood response not sufficient: Lee Kuan Yew': "Whatever we do when we get extraordinary rains like we had recently, no amount of engineering can prevent flooding... unless you want to lose half the roads and have canals." [link].
- [Reuters5Apr2007]: "'If we don't do that ... corruption will set in and we will become like many other countries,' Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean was quoted as saying in the Straits Times last week."- 'Singapore ministers set for million-dollar pay hike' [link]
- [CNA:03May2006] 'Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says Singapore is at the top of its game because of a strong political system and quality leadership' [YouTube/@1m10s]

This/ similar post is reflected at the folowing forums:
30July2010: Rethinking Singapore Ministerial Salaries
23Nov2010: SM Goh: Why should I be working for people who don’t feel they belong over here?
20Dec2010: 51% of Singaporeans do not have minimum sum
18Jan2012: Ministers' exits must be handled with care, says PM
18Jan2012: Foreign workers made to queue up for bak kwa
30July2010: Workers can expect better pay rise: labour chief
30Oct2009: The TOP 30 highest paid politicians in the world
30July2010: Rethinking Formula for Singapore Ministerial Salaries
14Oct2010: Ministers’ salaries set to be raised with Singapore’s economy expected to grow next year
30July2010: Rethinking Formula for Singapore Ministerial Salaries
SG club:
30July2010: Rethinking formula for Singapore Ministerial Salaries
28Oct2009: Top 30 highest paid politicians in the world ...

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