Since the 1970s. Lee Kuan Yew has manufactured one excuse after another to increase political salary into the stratosphere. Meanwhile, the cost of living has gone up in tandem with engineered salary increases without the required productivity increase, leading to a lower standard of living for ordinary citizens.
Lee Kuan Yew is also the creator of the pay system in 1994 which pegs the pay of politicians and civil servants to top earners in the private sector. In 2007, he supported another huge increase in salary.
According to Lee, if we did not increase the salary by 60%: “Your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is, your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people’s countries.” With a Parliament dominated by PAP MPs, Lee’s demand was of course met.
However, after heavy election losses in 2011, the PAP was forced to make a U-turn on paying ministers sky-high salary and their pay was reduced by more than 30%.
– 3 years after the pay cut, has the price of our apartments collapsed?
– are our jobs in peril?
– is our security at risk?
– has any Singaporean woman become a maid in other countries? (why did the father of the most powerful man stoop so low as to insult FDWs who had contributed to Singapore’s growth?)
Lee’s hard truth or half truth?
Lee said Singapore could “well afford to pay its leaders top dollar”. He said the salary before the increase amounted to $46 million which was a mere “0.022% of GDP”. What he conveniently left out was the salary of leaders did not increase in isolation; any increase will eventually trickle down to all other public servants.
The cost of our bloated, top heavy PAP government** is not only $46 million; there are thousands of civil servants holding leadership positions in the ministries, statutory boards, organs of state, etc. All these guys are more than generously paid with tax dollars. Obviously they would also want a piece of the pie and the PAP, in return, needed their support.
Lee’s insistence on not listening to citizens made political salaries very volatile. Is this the way to run a government? Why would any citizen become a politician knowing there would be uncertainty in remuneration?
It is misleading to use the figure “$46 million” to justify an astronomical pay increase of a few politicians because there were more than 100,000 public servants. So if everyone had contributed to our economy, why were only PAP politicians singled out for a 60% pay rise?
When we look at the total manpower cost, it was $3.3 billion in 2003 and this doubled to $6.8 billion in 2013. A 60% increase in political salary would eventually have resulted in all salaries increasing, albeit at a lower quantum.
Lee’s other justifications for increase:
– “not fair” (is Lee implying it is fair for low wages to be stagnant since he has never spoken up on this issue?)
– “out of all proportion to what they were earning outside the Government..” (As Tin Pei Lin was probably earning only half her MP allowance, this must be certainly “out of all proportion”)
Fortunately, Singaporeans have sent a clear message to the PAP that a system which inculcates greed has no place in our society.
Our bloated government
In Minister Yaacob’s MCI, there is a Second Minister (what for?), Minister of State (for ?), Perm Sec, Deputy Sec, Chief of Government Communications (propaganda?), Press Sec to PM, Press Sec to Minister, 2 Directors. Every additional position created is a cost to taxpayers.
Some ministries have 2 Perm Sec (for ?), a Senior MOS (for ?) on top of an MOS, a Parliamentary Sec/Senior Parliamentary Sec. Every ministry has a QSM. There are many other different titles but all are not paid peanuts. A PA is assigned to every political office holder.
Other highly-paid positions include directors, consultants, Chief Defence Scientist, Group Chief Mindef Comms, Senior Advisor, Senior Management Adviser, Managers, Special Assistants in the PMO, President, Speaker, MPs, etc. What about the CEOs of 66 statutory boards (some without CEO), 9 Organs of State and other organisations?
So why is the PAP creating highly-paid positions to run one of the smallest country in the world?
A bloated government, excludes the cabinet
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The total salary of all civil servants listed under the 16 ministries already amounted to hundreds of millions. After increasing political salary, increase in the salary of all civil servants would have follow suit or PAP would lose the support of the civil service. When Lee mentioned “$46 million”, he was clearly trying to downplay the eventual total cost increase.