Singaporeans are a gullible and naive lot. Despite 90% of households having internet access and a highly educated population, adults keep voting for an opaque government whose MPs we don’t really know.
Transparency is paramount in a real democracy but PM Lee has insisted on opacity. PM Lee: “For your own protection, every MP should disclose to me, in confidence, your business and professional interests, your present employment and monthly pay, all retainers and fees that you are receiving ..”. (pt. 35) In short, only PM Lee, not the people, has the right to know the financial background of MPs. Are MPs serving the people or PM Lee?
Ordinary Singaporeans would unlikely have voted for an MP who earns, say, $3.65 million a year or $10,000 per day. He may be a book smart military scholar who was groomed for success in his career but an increasingly not-so-daft Singaporeans would know for certain he is a dud. And, to borrow our Great Leeder’s words, “we don’t want duds”. A person who earns $10,000 per day in money-matters-most Singapore does not have the time to serve.
Take for example, super high income earner and PAP MP Alvin Yeo who, together with another lawyer, charged $1.33 million by representing the SMC in a simple overcharging case. Does he even have any time to serve his constituents when he did not even have the time to look at the $1.33 million peanuts bill prepared by his clerk? So who suffers despite taxpayers not paying peanuts?
When it comes to ministers, the information on the PMO’s website is even more selectively disclosed. In an email to the PMO in 2012, I suggested that the “government should reorganise the cabinet” because the information provided was more like ‘rojak’. The chronological disorder is unbelievable but true. See for yourself at link to PMO website here. After the reply from PMO, I had expected my suggestion to be taken seriously. Instead, nothing has changed.
Basic information of ministers such as their family background seems to have been withheld from the public. Are they public figures? For example, it is a fact that Minister Yaacob Ibrahim married an American citizen and has 2 children with dual citizenship. But why did the public need to find out through Wikileaks instead of PAP? If Minister Iswaran could state he is married to Kay Mary Taylor and Tharman to Jane Yumiko Ittogi, why did the PAP withhold the facts on Yaacob’s marriage? If this fact was not important, why respond to a Wikileaks cable? If PAP did not trust Singaporeans with facts, should Singaporeans trust the PAP with our lives?
This begs the question – what other information has been concealed from the public by PAP MPs and ministers?
Because of non-disclosure to the public, most Singaporeans mistakenly believe a minister is paid only a salary plus an MP allowance. Although ministers hardly have any time after conducting MPS, gracing events, handling town council issues, family commitments, etc some still find the time to hold directorships. Do ministers have 25 hours a day? No wonder all the screw ups!
Take for example SMOS Heng Chee How. It is not disclosed on the Parliament website that Heng is a director of NTUC Income which earned him $36,450 in 2013 (pg 18). Are million-dollar salaries still insufficient?
PAP must disclose all the paid directorships held by ministers because we do not need part-time ministers.
In addition to their salary, MP allowance and director’s fee, ministers are also paid a town councilor’s allowance. Below shows a table of allowances paid by residents to the chairman, vice-chairman and members of a town council.
As taxpayers, HDB residents not only pay the salaries of ministers and MPs but also a town councilor allowance.
Hmm… why is everybody smiling?
Is PAP afraid disclosure will cause citizens to label them ‘$ face’.
PAP’s survival hinges on the non disclosure of ‘material’ information and it’s about time voters demand our right to such information. Will Singaporeans vote for a PAP MP whose annual pay package or business earns him million$?
Those who agree a minister should be paid a salary with a generous bonus despite epic screw ups, an MP allowance (top decile income), director’s fee and town councilor allowance, keechiu, hands up! Hmm.. the no show of hands is heartening.
The selective disclosure of information of PAP MPs is to mask their true objectives ie to further self interests and not to serve. The status of an MP is beneficial for one’s business, that’s the reality. And to be generously paid for a part time job without accountability, what more could one ask for?
After 50 years, why is the PAP afraid to disclose ministers’ TOTAL remuneration to the public?
Citizens have the right to basic information of our MPs who are our servants. It is wrong for PM Lee to claim that MPs are protected by merely disclosing such information only to him. It’s about time citizens demand the PAP ceases concealing information if they really want our support.