Mar 29, 2007

Sweet Talking

I was on holiday late last week, with no Internet access. When I came back, I learned that the PAP ministers had raised their salaries again.

Well, this was no surprise. Months ago, SM Goh had already dropped hints that the salary increase was on its way. So now, their salaries are not only the world's highest ministerial salaries, but the world's highest ministerial salaries by far.

Eat your heart out, George Bush.

I still haven't caught up with all the details. I've just been quickly browsing articles via the
Intelligent Singaporean on this matter. MM Lee's age is showing - he spouts little bits of strange nonsense like this:
"Low salaries will draw in the hypocrites who sweet talk their way into power in the name of public service, but once in charge will show their true colour, and ruin the country."
This is an illogical statement. One may just as well assert: "High salaries will draw in the hypocrites who sweet talk their way into power in the name of public services ...". Surely high salaries have greater ability than low salaries to attract hypocrites.

In fact, both statements are untrue. In Singapore, most ministers do not need to "sweet-talk their way into power in the name of public service". They just need to be picked by MM Lee, to be minister. That's the tough part. The easy part is getting into Parliament - that's usually done by election walkover.

Anyway, I wonder how the founding fathers of Singapore, like
Goh Keng Swee or S Rajaratnam, would feel about MM Lee's remark. Really insulted, I guess.

Back in those days, ministerial salaries were low, far lower than now. There was no such thing as pegging ministers' salaries to the absolute top earners in the private sector. But were Goh and Rajaratnam really "hypocrites who sweet-talked their way into power in the name of public service"?

I don't think so.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, I'd appreciate some help from motivational experts or HR. I read that money isn't the main thing that motivates people at work. Usually, the pat on the back, a conducive work environment, timely recognition. Maybe the ministers are getting paid more because their boss isn't giving them enough positive reinforcements. ;) Then again, who motivates their boss? :)

Denzuko1 said...

The candidates still need t sweet talk but only to one person, MM Lee in order to get selected.

Anonymous said...

There was an article in The Straits Times, 28 March 07, forum. It asks the Ministers' pay be pegged to the least corrupt Government in the world, since PAP's justification for high pay is low/no corruption. PAP government is currently ranked 4th or 6th. First is NZ.

Now, let's see them draw NZ ministerial pay.

Anonymous said...

so basically what they are sayin that low salary = corruption?

do we see our lowly paid workers rob tha bank, ask for kopi money etc

it is NOT about the money, it is about the principle of the candidates.

unfortunately time had shown that principle is not their strongest suit (rem IR? all the those who jumped out and defended the decision claimed that it is against their religion/ principle/ belief BUT FOR THE GOOD of singapore, they supported it, wtf!)

then again, we deserved, everytime we gave them the mandate to screw us left right center.

look at the GST hikes, fee hikes etc, did they ask for a discussion? nope, basically they tell you what they will be doing and shafted it down your throat.

Anonymous said...

MM has been saying why Singaporeans cannot have "freedom of speech and demonstration" and needs to be "guided" in elections, CPF because "Singaporeans are not matured enough". He says it even in international TV.

If he even thinks properly, does he know wtf he is saying? PAP has been the choice of majority of Singaporeans. And if Singaporeans are immatured, then doesn't that make PAP THE choice of immature people?

Makes me sad listening to him talk nowadays. He is just not the LKY I used to love and respect anymore.

Anonymous said...

Is the intelligent singaporean part of the brotherhood press?

Or is the brotherhood press part of the intelligent singaporean?

Really confused and desperately seeking the truth. Cindy Teo.

Does anyone know them? I am interested to set up and interview.

Anonymous said...

If the income of the poorest segment have not increased, then neither should the leaders right? Morally untouchable wat.

If these people feel they should be paid like what pte sector businessman are paid.. then operate like private sector lor... what would pte sector boss say?

1) You create a XuChou Ind Park, you bloody well resign.
2) Hundred million dollar "honest mistake"? You bloody well pay the company from your own pockets.
3) You work in the media industry and call MrBrown "anonymous"? You live on bloody Mars?
4) You allocate company funds to only the dept heads you like? You bloody father money ah?

You dont bloody deserve a raise.

Anonymous said...

A picture is worth a thousand words:

http://tinyurl.com/2vvj98

P.S: I despise greedy people who hide behind absurd logic and justify their own greed with perverse notions of self-entitlement.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article on Today newspaper. The title of the article ' A mandarin's temptation'. It cites examples of some outstanding administrative officers that felt the pull of the private sector. Strangely , almost everyone qualifies their comments with, 'it is not about the money'. I find that article, confusing at best. If people are leaving public service not purely due to monetary rewards, then how is it possible to retain people by raising the salaries of our esteemed ministers and top civil servants?

whybegay said...

Let's face reality, people are not saints but are money-hungry superficial capitalists. And the government is showing full transparency in this fact, as opposed to taking money from the wrong places.

And is it really that rewarding for ministers to face whiners like you and Mr Brown all day long while they are trying to get serious work done? No, ministers are fed up and dragged-down by all the unconstructive immature whiners in Singapore and need money to seek counselling from all the BS immature infantile whiners have been throwing at them all this while.

If you want people who don't want high salaries to work in the government but still are not corrupted, go and find them yourself talking all the BS. Go walk the talk first. Go an volunteer for a paycut in your own job, since it is after all also "serving the people". Continue the BS

Anonymous said...

MM Lee: "Low salaries will draw in the hypocrites who sweet talk their way into power in the name of public service, but once in charge will show their true colour, and ruin the country."

For this piece of wisdom, give that man a RAISE!

Anonymous said...

cindy

dunno leh, no one dare to ask.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"If you want people who don't want high salaries to work in the government but still are not corrupted, go and find them yourself ....."

Sure. They are regularly found in Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland. All these years, the governments of these countries are ranked equal or better than Singapore, for their lower levels of corruption. However, their leaders' salaries are much lower.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to make a man understand something, when his salary depends on him not understanding it.

Anonymous said...

Yawningbread.org - great graphics and obscenity.

Anonymous said...

"Sure. They are regularly found in Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland. All these years, the governments of these countries are ranked equal or better than Singapore, for their lower levels of corruption. However, their leaders' salaries are much lower."

President Bush salary is a fraction of our PM, but guess who picks up the tab for his ranch? Enron. Guess who remodelled the white house, Halliburton. Guess who paid for the interior of Air force one? Boeing Aero grp. Yes if I get corporations lining up to pay for me. I oso dont mind working for food only. I dont even ask for a salary. Can or not?

Anonymous said...

Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland.

Who the hell was talking about the US? You can read or not?

Oh, but then hor, you probably think that the PM who runs a little red dot with 4 million people on it deserves to be piad much, much more than the President who runs the most powerful country in the world.

Anonymous said...

"Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland."

wah can pick and choose country one to fit the argument meh? So convinient one ah?

Answer lah the question. Did you know the pm in New Zealand just signed a book deal that pays out USD$7.5 million and in Switzerland the previous PM now works as a consultant for a defence co and is salary is over USD$5.6 million per year!

Or you mean now we will not talk abt switzerland or NZ?

Crashman said...

Mr Wang,
In case you have not read this interesting blog by a Young PAP Women Vice Chair on the increase. Interesting how the reason avoids the reason.

http://youngpapblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/bill-gatesgeorge-sorosmother-theresa.html

As to the economical exploits of the PM of other nations, it shows they are really worth the money and had chosen to give a portion of their time to National Interest instead. We'll never know that is true for Singapore will we? I can't really imagine MM Lee working for Durex...

Anonymous said...

Then let those ministers in Sg get million dollars book deal or work in million dollars salary job after they finish their services in the ministry department. I wonder whether they are able to do that.

Anonymous said...

John Howard's pay is only AUD 200k plus. Adding the housing and other entitlements, he is only worth around half a million dollar and his job is definitely much more stressful.

I just can't stop thinking about the logic behind SGD2.2 mil salary for the ministers in Sg.

whybegay said...

Mrv Wang said,

"Sure. They are regularly found in Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland. All these years, the governments of these countries are ranked equal or better than Singapore, for their lower levels of corruption. However, their leaders' salaries are much lower."

You want to request foreign talents to run our government because Singapore lacks their kind of talent and generosity? This sounds like a funky idea. I want John Howard to be our Prime Minister so that we can all liberate up the society.

geriatric_eunuch said...

Here we go yet again. Same old dog, same old rabbit, same old message. Just as bogus this time around as it was the first time when delivered in tedious rambling avuncular style in Parliament all those years ago. Yep, why not push the same old greed and fear buttons since they've always worked before? Personally I've no particular beef with whatever the dinosaur reckons he's worth despite the well-documented gross errors of judgement because for better or worse, he earned his spurs in the run-up to nationhood. However, the jury is still out for his successors since 1990, particularly the current cohort of 'droids who look in Parliamentary broadcasts to bear a worrying likeness to the serried ranks of factory robots in the early scenes of 'I, Robot'.

The man himself is way, way, past his sell-by date and should have genuinely retired gracefully instead of clinging implacably to power to enforce questionable rigid nostrums whose efficacy grows ever more in doubt with each passing year. Even great leaders of their time like Churchill and Roosevelt made way for new blood. Finger stabbing at skull, mouthing 'Database' like a voodoo incantation; really, someone ought to enlighten him that a database is no more than a random store of information. It's the database retrieval engine that matters most and his has clearly begun to ossify and show its age.

Thanks to his patented formula, instead of a vibrant, thrusting, innovative populace, we now enjoy a fearful, risk-averse, dependent hive mind that knows the price of everything but not its value. A grim legacy of decades of GDP-worship and the dead-hand of repression. How would you describe the triumphalism over Sars or the '97 mini-recession? A true test of nationhood, a baptism of fire as was claimed, proof-positive of the priceless worth of the leadership? Or no more than the minimum service to be required, indeed demanded, of an administration already extremely well-paid by ANY standard? It always struck me as rather odd that these people continue to remain tenaciously attached to their dreadfully underpaid posts when by implication they could all easily stroll off into private sector jobs paying vastly more. Perhaps the fear of possibly being ruthlessly fired when the going gets tough might have something to do with it, do you think?

Anonymous said...

Singalore offers jobs and residency to foreign talents(workers) Have our most talented top dogs been headhunted or invited by foreign sovereigns< especially the talents needy Middle East? Many of our so called talents have been to that region recently> Were they offered consultant and adviser roles worth billions of dollars? Why not?

Anonymous said...

whichever way you look at this, it simply looks bad on the leadership, their 40+ years of nation building and the people of this country.
put it this way, the unquenchable demand for more money by the elites is saying that our elites are so full of themsleves and absorded in their 'good living', when the country comes calling for their service, they still resisted despite offering a kingly sum and royal perks. yes, they are too superficial to want the job at an even more superficial offer!and as for those who do, the current payout, extremely generous considering it is a slate of aunties and uncles hip hopping so i am not at all impress with them especially most are paid to toll the party's line and kowtow to their paymaster( at the people's expense) at the end of the day.
sorry to have to say this: they have failed miserably in building a nation of people of substance and depth. instead, they have built a nation of expendable and highly exploitable factory workers to shamelessly form the grass roots foundation to support the rich elitist class. they are saying, please, we have come to a stage where we have exhausted all means and ideas to keep you alive and now, we need to open the floodgate to foreigners and create questionable employment relating to gaming and you mass of menial workers, we have made sure you have no life here unless you work beyond your expiry date and continue to be the camel backs for the rich elites to fulfil all their wildest dreams that money can buy them!and not that these elites are in anyway particularly exceptional but perhaps luckier than the rest, treated like gods and care for nothing except their own indulgences are playing coy when the calling come for them to return what they had taken from society. oh what a bloody shame and failure! do they see it, do they even care at all? no.the hollowness of life here is shouting loud and clear.... JUST SHOW ME THE MONEY AND SHUT THE FART UP!
now are you saying if we dont 'show them the money' and give in to their want and demands, the current crop of leadership will resign?
if they quit, which the current crop of leadership won't obviously, because they are not happy with the kind of pay most peasants can only dream of making, it shows them up to be shallow again. so whichever way you look at it, we have a group of very shallow people running the place and the best you can say about them is: yes, they have created a condusive environment to make lots of money for a few. in the process, some of this prosperity has trickled down to the masses. but, the high social costs,at the expense of the ordinary people, has been too costly especially during the financial crisis and sars period. can they quarantee that that will not repeat and bring bankruptsies to the masses again? can they quarantee that the value of your homes will not lose more than 40 to 50% in value again and the mass market... after ten years is still at a major loss?
when that happens again...does that make a difference to their MULTIMILLIONAIRE STATUS at all?Nope and why?
BECAUSE THEY DID NOT BUILD A FIRST CLASS OF QUALITY PEOPLE BUT RATHER A FIRST CLASS PLACE TO RAKE IN BIG BUCKS FOR THE ELITES AND ENSURE, THAT THE SYSTEM WILL NOT FAIL FOR THEM!AND THESE DONT WANT TO SERVE YOU UNLESS YOU CAN MAKE THEM EVEN RICHER!
this kind of spirit now permeates the whole of society and the mighty leader can go round boasting of his great success and achievements?
sorry, nation building is more than just jobs and massive consumption to keep the whole machinery working so as to churn out more money for the rich to be richer. a successful nation is when the people truly care for each other and unitedly, MODERATE their material excesses for the greater good of the soul of your neighbours. what they have achieved is a nation of self serving bigots with crappy values pass off as the genuine article! shame on you for asking for more and more money!

kenneth said...

the way i see it, they can still try to justify paying the high post ministers like the pm since they really do contribute to the country. It really makes no sense however, paying some of the other ministers that much. what do they do anyhow? they barely contribute as far as we can see.

as far as brain drain is concerned, i think that people who genuinely want to help build the country will stay in govt even with the current pay or lower. they are dedicated and genuinely want to help. paying higher salaries may keep the another group of "talented" individuals but wouldn't they be better off contributing to the economy by going to the private sector? that is of course, assuming they stay in Singapore to contribute to the local economy.

Kenneth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kenneth said...

one more thing. when people screw up in the private sector they will definitely be severely punished for it. in our govt, it is not true. i remember one of the ministers who said we were a bunch of complainers. why do we bother to pay him so much? one would expect that he do his job without making such audacious comments. then there was the case of the minister who defended his daughter's elitist comments. if it were in another country, chances are he would be booted out of the government

Anonymous said...

http://www.petitiononline.com
/paypap1/petition.html

Anonymous said...

I've read more rants than i care to count. Either we are a vocal minority or just the minority brave enough to question what is happening around us. If it is the former, we are just complainers. If it is the latter, we can only try to wake the others from their slumber and hope enough people wake up.

Anonymous said...

$2.2 million is the price of suppressing one's soul and conscience to the work for the devil for one year.

Anonymous said...

I will only say one thing.

66.6%.

Lau Min-tsek said...

Whybegay said,

"I want John Howard to be our Prime Minister so that we can all liberate up the society."

er..... you obviously know very little about aussie politics. Not many aussies would call JH a liberal, nor would most of his policies be considered liberal.

If you are referring to Australia being a more liberal society than Singapore, then yes. But this is the outcome of the collective wisdom of the Australian people, and not the social engineering of some selected elite mandarins.

lau min-tsek said...

To the anon who said,

"Answer lah the question. Did you know the pm in New Zealand just signed a book deal that pays out USD$7.5 million and in Switzerland the previous PM now works as a consultant for a defence co and is salary is over USD$5.6 million per year!"

Firstly, it is unclear what is the point you are trying to make.

If you are trying to say that politicians overseas gets paid millions too, then your egs are not valid.

Those people made millions by doing something else, such as writing a book (NZ) and working as a consultant AFTER he left office (Switzerland). They were not paid millions for holding office. Nor were tax dollars paid for the book deals and the consultant fees.

(*** sidebar *** I didn't know that Helen Clark has a book deal and couldn't find any info for it. Perhaps you are referring to an ex-PM? David Lange rose from the dead? Prominant ex politicians often write autobiographies and give lectures which may be quite lucrative -- remember the Clintons? Both of them? It is a bit sensitive for a politician to write an autobiography when he/she is still in office. With the notable exception of MM Lee, who incidentally did cause a stir with Malaysia with his autobiography while still holding office.)

Secondly, you are unaware that the situation concerning politicians holding private sector jobs in many other countries is different from that in Singapore.

Many countries actually has restrictions on politicians, especially high ranking politicians, from holding private sector jobs, being too closely associated with private companies or even holding shares in companies that may have a conflict of interest with their positions.

And if there are no official restrictions, there are voters and public pressure against such practices (think Dick Cheney and Halliburton).

In Singapore, there are little restrictions or pressure on MPs from having multiple private sector jobs and joining multiple companies as directors. We only have one full time MP who does not have another job -- Chiam See Tong.

One reason given for this situation in Singapore is that an MP's pay (a lowly $10,000+ per month) is not attractive to get people to leave their private sector job. Hence, this situation is created by the PAP to attract MPs who would otherwise not accept a "lowly" paid MP's job.

Now, isn't this consistent with the debate on ministerial salaries?

I was under the impression that ministers are not allowed to hold private sector jobs. However, it may interest you that MM Lee himself is a special advisor to Citicorp. He also writes a regular column with Forbes. Not sure if he gets paid (I think the column with Forbes is a freebie for PR purposes), but if he does get paid, no one in Singapore will bat an eyebrow or wonder if there is a conflict of interest.

If you still don't get my point and think it is ok for MM Lee to be an advisor to Citicorp and perhaps be paid a high salary for his job, try to imagine George Bush being on the payroll for Microsoft, or being a special advisor (even if unpaid) for Exxon. I wonder what the American public would say.

Anonymous said...

You can debate, go on and on....
Does it make an inch of difference what will happen?

Many of us wish for a more equitable society... possibly a consequence of years of reciting the national pledge.

That is but a wish and unless your 'fair'y appears and grants your wish, time spent wishing is time wasted.

Focus on things that are within your circle of influence. This will hopefully expand the range of choices available.

whybegay said...

Lau Min-tsek said,

"If you are referring to Australia being a more liberal society than Singapore, then yes. But this is the outcome of the collective wisdom of the Australian people, and not the social engineering of some selected elite mandarins."

Exactly, this is why our elite Supernanny ministers have to be paid more for their supervision and baby-feeding services to uncontrollable infantiles who can't think maturely on their own.

Yau-ming's blog!! said...

Whilst I don't necessarily agree with the extremely high packages paid to Govt ministers... I do agree that if you tend to pay industry low salaries you might not necessarily attract the right sort of talent. The best brains would invariably go for commercial jobs because they pay better and have more perks. Anyhow, check out the quality of the politicians in Australia, esp. the ones in the Labor Party, and you might understand.

Anonymous said...

"Low salaries will draw in the hypocrites who sweet talk their way into power in the name of public service, but once in charge will show their true colour, and ruin the country."

Eh, I was thinking, didn't MM Lee come into power when the salary was very low, and then cemented his position by winning over Singaporeans in 1965?

And now he has been in government for the last 42 years, his son is also in government, and both father and son have been asking for 7-figure salaries for their Cabinet.

Not open for debate, of course.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we know that risk is present. Low salaries may attract the wrong talent. In fact, I can similarly say high salaries may attract the wrong talent. The point is, one has to really go deeper than that as a reason.

Wouldn't you think that the government is incapable of attracting the right talent, without giving higher salaries?

Also, is the solution relevant to the problem? Are people leaving/not joining because the pay is too low?

Well I'd love to see great people at the top, but how sure am I of this solution that our government prescribes?

Does anyone remember peanuts?

Our MM proposes solutions to two problems here (let's ignore for now how ability is gauged, and by who):

1) To guard against weak moral fibre from infecting our country, we use money. As long as the candidate gets the money he/she desires, he/she will naturally be imbued with strong moral fibre and will resist corruption.

2) To obtain people of great ability, and to ensure that that ability is applied for the benefit of the country, we use money.
As long as the candidate with the ability gets the money, he/she will definitely apply his ability well enough for the benefit of our country.

Does that sound right at all?

I don't personally find it particularly convincing.

F.S. said...

A high salary for ministers, per se, is actually ok with me.. there are two major issues though.


(1) the benchmarking process creates perverse incentives for our government to create an economy with huge income disparity. Cos when there is greater dispersion in income, the ministers gain as the top income earners earn more (even when holding the mean income level constant).


(2) process of election must be fair. If it is fair, we attract the best people that will serve for that (whatever obscene) sum of money.

unfortunately, elections are far from being fair in singapore. In effect, rewarding them with higher pay is merely encouraging the incumbent govt to "build empires" (analogy is the syndrome of "CEO entrenchment" and poison pills in the corporate world to prevent any take-over, which is determintal to shareholders' interests).

Norma said...

"ministers are fed up and dragged-down"
Hey, PM Lee says Middle East is headhunting "talented civil servants"; the whole PAP cabinet should be shipped out to do Singapore a favour.

Anonymous said...

Well said lau min-tsek

And to the anon who said,

"Answer lah the question. Did you know the pm in New Zealand just signed a book deal that pays out USD$7.5 million and in Switzerland the previous PM now works as a consultant for a defence co and is salary is over USD$5.6 million per year!"

I think you should go and play with yourself.

Anonymous said...

Who doesn't want more money?

i love PAP said...

Have anyone read this classic post?

I have a lot of empathy for our Ministers. They do a job that very few people can do and they deserve to be paid accordingly. The question to be asked by the critics of their proposed pay increase is this- are you criticizing because you honestly do not believe that the Ministers are entitled to a pay increase or is it because you are simply envious?

http://youngpapblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/green-eyed-monster.html

Anonymous said...

Hi Anon Mar Thirtieth Two Thirty Two< those were the words of a supremacist extremist elite! We are afflicted with a small minority group of extremist elites who want to cut down the forest to preserve a few exclusive trees!

Anonymous said...

The way LHL puts it is really warped. The rational goes that to attract people and to do their job well is to give a handsome amount of money. Passion, sense of duty, devotion, honor, doesn't figure as a noble calling in the service to the nation anymore.

If one day S'pore is to be attacked. (This must be a threat of concern probability 'cos why else would we budget $10.6 billion for defence) I wonder if the Govt will really pay me handsomely enough to defend Singapore. To fight well and not easily swayed by the enemies various form of "persuasions" to put down my arms(corruption?)

Or should I do it (risk losing my life and putting my love ones thru' hardship) in the name of duty, honor, country. Do so as a truly noble calling that one puts foremost in the service of the nation regardless whether it's during peace time or war.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I've just realised that MM Lee is trying to put a spin on this. The old justificiation for sky-high ministerial salaries is two-pronged:

(1) the need to attract talented people; and

(2) the need to stop them from becoming corrupt.

Over the years, MM Lee has come to realise just how ugly the 2nd prong sounds. It actually means this -

"Hey, I am a PAP minister. You'd better pay me more, otherwise I may become like Tay Cheang Wan, abuse my position and become corrupt."

It just is not pretty. A justification like that reflects very badly on the character of PAP ministers.

Therefore LKY is now attempting to melt (1) and (2) together. What he's trying to do is trick you into believing that:

- people of low talent tend to be corrupt & hypocritical

- people of high talent tend to be honest and good

If you believe that, you may well agree that the ministers should get extremely high salaries.

But of course that is fallacious. A lowly-talented / qualified person may, for example, be honest & have high integrity (eg an honest taxi driver or maid or road sweeper).

A highly-talented / qualified person may, for example, be very dishonest (eg Enron accountants).

And extremely talented individuals may nevertheless choose to work for low salaries (eg Warren Buffett, or Goh Keng Swee or, in the past, Lee Kuan Yew).

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr Wang, that was what I raised to let people think about.

If our MM addresses the two issues, they must still be issues which he cannot find a solution for.

How can you really know a man's heart?

Suffice to also assume, it's not really a problem because he hasn't been able to solve it anyway. So, what's the real purpose in raising the salaries? Is it really to feed 'poor' ministers? Or to reinforce the illusion that the civil service will pay better to anyone who joins it; the thought "Hey if ministers get a pay raise, I don't think I'll get a pay cut if I join the civil service. Sounds like a safe bowl to me."

What's really going on?

Not a sycophant said...

Just told my NZ colleague that Cabinet Ministers in SG are making $1.2m and want another $1m cos they are underpaid as they peg their pay to high salaries in top professions. She said "What ? That's corruption !" Interesting that we might already have "legalised" corruption and aren't aware of it! lol!

Anonymous said...

I had expressed the following comments on 'Diary of a Singaporean Mind', a well-known local blogger who has perfected sarcasm and irony to a fine art. I reprint my comments below:

"Hasn't anyone realised that the the PAP government is fully exploiting the political cycle in Singapore?

Get the most unpopular measures like GST increase and ministerial pay increase quickly approved by parliament in the first year after the elections. The Singapore electorate can whinge all they want but come election time 5 years later in 2011, the majority (the 60%) would have forgotten about the ministerial pay increase in 2007. Selective amnesia as always can be induced with one or two well-timed electoral goodies during election year.

In the meantime, the minister who got his pay increased to 2.2 million in 2007 would have collected at least 8.8 million when the next elections arrive. At that time, the minister could decide whether the 8.8 million has been enough and whether he should continue to stand for election or quit and join the cut-throat world of the private sector.

We guess the answer is most likely to stay on as a minister."

Anonymous said...

Whybegay said:
((((supervision and baby-feeding services to uncontrollable infantiles who can't think maturely on their own. ))))

Totally agree with that.

And these uncontrollable infantiles who can't think maturely on their own have been consistently voting the PAP since Day 1.

Obviousy a bad choice but only the minority can see it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous on March 30th said:

((((Suffice to also assume, it's not really a problem because he hasn't been able to solve it anyway. So, what's the real purpose in raising the salaries? Is it really to feed 'poor' ministers? Or to reinforce the illusion that the civil service will pay better to anyone who joins it; the thought "Hey if ministers get a pay raise, I don't think I'll get a pay cut if I join the civil service. Sounds like a safe bowl to me."

What's really going on? ))))

It's not difficult to see through the old man's schemes.

The top tier talents simply refuse to join him after all those tea sessions. They have a different approach to nation building and problem solving that do not agree with the old man's doctrine. To be polite and not get on his wrong side, the just give the excuse "oh, private sector pays more"!

Being a vengeful man that he is, he decides that the second and third tier ones who do decide to join his ranks and become ministers should be paid almost equal to private sector. If anything, it's to spite those who turned him down. And of course, to keep his robots at bay and on a tight leash. Nobody paid that well is going to step out of line and lose their golden bowls.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,
you do not understand Singapore policy very well, don't you ?

In Singapore, the policy is very different from rest of the world where money is concerned. The inverse logic is used.

The logic is :
The smaller the country, the harder it is to manage the country. The richer the country, the harder to manage. The smaller the country, the higher the pay of gahment. The more the pay, the lesser the corruption because corruption money already included in the increment.
The higher the pay, the more loyal is the dog.

mdm wong said...

can't agree more...there should be clear functional distinctions between public and private sector.

the role of the government is ,in my humble opinion, not to compete with the private sector, but to regulate and facilitate the private sector growth.

a civil servant's primary role is probably to serve the public, ensure well beings of people are equitably ensured in a civilised society and business are fairly regulated.

in order to achieve these goals, public/ government linked companies should ideally be privatised in order for fair competition, if not the private companies are competing against the government linked companies,and this fundamentally conflicts the regulatory and facilitatory roles of the government.

likewise, pegging ministerial pays to private sectors' top performers is akin to killing entreprenuerial spirits in the economy as rational qualified people might incline towards relatively "iron-rice bowls" public sector, and yet unjustiably able to enjoy private sectors' pay-scale tagged to top private performers.

civil servants who wanna enjoy private sectors' high risk high returns benefits should, step out of comfort zone and compete fairly to show their private worth.

Anonymous said...

"Get the most unpopular measures like GST increase and ministerial pay increase quickly approved by parliament in the first year after the elections. The Singapore electorate can whinge all they want but come election time 5 years later in 2011, the majority (the 60%) would have forgotten about the ministerial pay increase in 2007. Selective amnesia as always can be induced with one or two well-timed electoral goodies during election year."

I would like to add that the opposition, with the exception of SDP, does not help the situation as they choose to keep silent over such important issues. It is almost like they are so scared to be sued and therefore will only bring up what they think are safer issues.

whybegay said...

anonymous said,

"And these uncontrollable infantiles who can't think maturely on their own have been consistently voting the PAP since Day 1.

Obviousy a bad choice but only the minority can see it."

I don't see another party good enough for the majority to vote for, not yet anyway.

geriatric_eunuch said...

Heh. Keep the trough well topped-up with swill. Build a mighty wall high and wide to enclose it. Eject any swine curious enough to raise their snouts to wonder about their surroundings. From the ramparts, continue to smirk, show the finger and moon with impunity the impotent raging protestors without. Do as you will with the docile fattened pigs within, they'll not recognise an abattoir even as they're led to one.

I don't see another party good enough for the majority to vote for, not yet anyway.

And likely you never, ever, will.

40-odd years ago, a few outraged good men wrested control of Singapore from its colonial masters. It's bitterly ironic that 40 years on, once again, the nation needs a few good men to prise apart the death-grip of a Paranoid Anal Party.

Amazing stuff, swill.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add that the opposition, with the exception of SDP, does not help the situation as they choose to keep silent over such important issues. It is almost like they are so scared to be sued and therefore will only bring up what they think are safer issues.

We got opposition members in the parliament meh? Like never see or hear them before...

Anonymous said...

People, Say so much now no use... REMEMBER what is happening today. DO NOT FORGET.... show it to them in 4/5 years time...

Anonymous said...

Please refer to the Yawning Bread Sampler blogsite to see the logic (or more like illogic) of our ministers' pay benchmarking model. Below were my comments (with some errors corrected):

"Yawning Bread, thank you so much for the in-depth research. I have always thought there was something innately wrong with the benchmarking model but what you have explained convinces me even more that whoever dreamt up this model in the first place must be either very self-serving or think the Singapore population is very stupid.

First, when you peg your salary to the top 25 earners, there will always be an upward bias. Year in, year out, boom year or recession, the top 25 earners will make more money compared to the rest of the population. If the top earners in industry were to go down one year, the slack would be compensated by the top lawyers or the top doctors. Is it any wonder that with this model, ministers' salaries will always lag behind. In fact, this feature is purposely built in.

Second, the whole thing about raising Admin Service officers' pay is a red herring. It is only by saying that they need to raise Admin service pay that ministers can with a straight face say their salaries also need to be jacked up.

Third, Singapore ministers don't change very often, unlike American CEOs, who if they last 5 years on the job, can be considered very good or very lucky. That's why if you look at lifetime earnings (permanent income hypothesis), a Singapore minister (some have been ministers for 15 years or more) would probably earn much more than your American CEO. What's more, their pension I believe is pegged to 2/3 of their last drawn pay.

Fourth, I suspect it's also a 'jealousy' thing for the Singapore ministers i.e they probably just can't stand the thought that the medical specialist they're seeing is earning more than them. They're probably thinking: I'm a minister, so I should earn as much as or more than you.

Five, last comment, I don't see why our President should be paid as much as our PM. The position is basically non-executive (bar 'guarding' the reserves). If you say that he needs to be paid that much because he is higher in terms of protocol, then I think something is very wrong somewhere."

simplesandra said...

whybegay wrote: "Exactly, this is why our elite Supernanny ministers have to be paid more for their supervision and baby-feeding services to uncontrollable infantiles who can't think maturely on their own.

And when it comes to the welfare of the less fortunate, the reply becomes "you're socially responsible enough to look after yourself", non? ;-)

I don't see another party good enough for the majority to vote for, not yet anyway.

A government is only as good as one that looks after its own citizens.

You can have the most qualified people (on paper, that is) running a country, but if the prosperity and progress only trickles down to its people, then what good are they? Average pay have stagnated--even fallen--against rising cost of living. Meanwhile, ministerial pay continues to increase regardless of the economy or performance in office.

If you ask me, an aloof, nonchalant government is as bad as a corrupt one--or worse, since they're supposedly on moral high grounds.