Apr 9, 2007

On Maids & Ministers

An excerpt, from the earlier CNN article:

Singapore ministers set for million-dollar pay hike

..... The opposition also argues that a million-dollar pay hike is unwarranted for leaders of a country that has no legal minimum wage and where 20 percent of the population earns an average monthly salary of S$1,500 ($991).

But Lee Kuan Yew -- modern Singapore's first prime minister, who is still the leading voice in his son's cabinet -- will have none of it.

"The cure to all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government," Lee senior told the Straits Times on Thursday, adding that it is "absurd" for Singaporeans to quarrel about ministerial pay and warned that Singapore would suffer it the government could not pay competitive salaries.

"Your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries," he said.

Some very startling leaps in logic there, from Lee Kuan Yew. But let's humour the man. For the sake of discussion, let's assume that we can indeed ascertain the quality of our PAP ministers, by comparing the economic status of maids and Singaporeans.

For starters, we will revisit an
old post of Mr Wang's, from June 2005. Back then, the Straits Times reported that the bottom 20% of wage earners in Singapore earn less than $1,200 a month. Mr Wang had then proceeded to compare the earning power of such Singaporeans, to the earning power of foreign domestic workers in Singapore:

Let's take a moment to think about the earning power of (1) Singapore's poorer citizens and (2) Singapore's foreign maids.

Let's say Madam Jin Pai Mia is a 55-year-old spinster belonging to the Low-Income Singaporean category. She works as a cleaner in a commercial office building and earns $900 a month.

Madam Jin takes the MRT to and from work every day. That's about $1.50 x 2 x 24 days = $72 a month. She pays about $60 for her water and electricity bills at home. She eats three meals a day, each costing an average of $3.00. That's $3.00 x 3 meals x 30 days = $270 a month on food. Let's say Madam Jin falls sick once in a while and needs to see the doctor. We'll put it at $20 a month. She rents a flat from the HDB. Let's say it's $250 a month (I don't know how much it costs - it's just my guesstimate).

That's $672 on basic stuff like transportation, water, electricity, food, medical care and accommodation. After deducting $672 from Madam Jin's monthly salary of $900, she's left with $228.

Now, a foreign domestic maid gets about $300 a month. However, the maid does not need to spend money on public transport to get to work each day. Her employer pays the electricity and water bills and provides three meals a day. The maid's accommodation is essentially free. If the maid falls ill, the employer is, by law, responsible for her medical expenses.

So when the maid gets $300 a month, the maid really earns $300 a month.

However, when Madam Jin gets $900, she's really earning just $228 a month.
The basic idea is quite simple. Although foreign maids get low salaries in Singapore, their employer covers almost all their necessary expenses - food, accommodation, utilities, medical care etc. When you factor all that in, you will see that the average foreign maid's earnings are quite comparable to the earnings of the average Singaporean in the bottom 20% .

Thus, we can say that one in five Singaporeans is no better off than a foreign maid. If we use Lee Kuan Yew's suggested methodology, we would begin to develop strong suspicions that our PAP ministers are not very competent, after all.

However, the relevant statistic - that the bottom 20% of wage earners in Singapore earn less than $1,200 a month - is an old one, from 2005. Perhaps things have improved since then? After all, our PAP ministers can't be that incompetent, can they?

Alas. According to this
Straits Times report in 2007, things seem to have only become worse. Not only has the average income of the bottom 20% of Singaporeans not risen, the average income of the bottom 30% has actually fallen.

Now, if we should once again adopt Mr Lee's methodology, we cannot help but be struck by the aptness of his words. All these years, our ministers have already been receiving the world's highest ministerial salaries. Yet all these years, Singaporeans seem to have indeed been suffering from a "strong dose of incompetent government".

105 comments:

1 + 1 = 3? said...

perhaps an elementary course in math will suffice.

Anonymous said...

Two out of three Singaporeans voted in a government that's only interested in perpetuating their own interests.

No wonder Li Ao said Singaporeans are stupid.

“Taiwanese are scoundrels, but lovable, Hong Kong people are craftier, (Chinese mainlanders are unfathomable) and Singaporeans are stupider,” he said, adding that it is partially due to genetics.

Roger said...

Mr Wang, your simple analysis regarding plight of the lowest income earners is... on the money.

What's the point of stashing all those national reserves - and continually telling everyone about the need to take care of those reserves - when so much public money is already being hijacked before they ever become national reserves?

What about the lowest income group - the cleaner aunties and uncles - many who cannot afford the cost of a newspaper, who cannot read, and who cannot even stand upright after years of hard labor.

If half of this minister pay rise was spent on improving the lot of these true Singaporeans who didn't dabble in politics and built Singapore - with their hands and hard toil under the sun while the country found it's footing - I would be grateful. To assume that we simply wouldn't be here if not for Minister Lee is a gross fallacy.

It certainly doesn't help that our society immortalizes him, as if he was of superhuman ability. In contrast, Singaporean Citizens themselves are in general not credited for building Singapore.

Anyway, I believe he enjoys consistently being placed on a pedestal and being constantly praised for his success by local and international media. If it was me, I know I would enjoy it too.

Hello said...

hmm, perhaps things will be put into better perspective if you consider the fact that the maids have to leave behind their families and home in order to earn the $300 which will never be available to them at home (im guessing here) , whereas for lower income singaporeans, at least they can still find work at their door steps even though they earn less (according to your statistics).

Anonymous said...

Hi wang,

I see the point of your post.

However, I can't help feeling that your example of the low-income family was used to proof your theory.

1.) you are comparing a 20-30 year old foreign maid with a aunty probably past 60 years old.

2.) As a result of using a old aunty, your assumed income of 900 may seems justified. But in the main content, we are talking about $1200 or less. Thus a more appropriate profile may not be an old aunty anymore.

3.) Old aunty do not spend $9 a day on food. They eat on 2 pieces of bread for breakfast.

4.) Old aunty also do not spend $3 a day on transport, I would think about $2 would be a fair assumption.

Of course, your point is that a low income earner has more burden and may not be any better than a foreign maid. This I agreed.

But your example was more to sensationalised your point.

Anonymous said...

Dear countrymen despair not! Come the day whence we all cannot afford to survive anymore they (MIWs) will abandon us and go away to spend their fortunes> From then on we will live more peacefully! Can you imagine more heading for the mrt track< more old folk died in their rental flats until the stench indicates that they are dead for sometime> Can you imagine tens of thousand of household not able to service their mortgages< utilities got cut of> Can you imagine folks fighting over empty cans< karang guni men fighting over turfs> Can you imagine more sleeping in open air< corridors and parks< can you imagine more> Yes it can happen!

Anonymous said...

Are we, the citizens of sgp, so irritating and unworthy that we need huge pay packets to make the elite help us help ourselves?
Only $ can drive the dreams?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Hello said:

"hmm, perhaps things will be put into better perspective if you consider the fact that the maids have to leave behind their families and home in order to earn the $300 which will never be available to them at home (im guessing here) , whereas for lower income singaporeans, at least they can still find work at their door steps even though they earn less (according to your statistics)."

You may be interested to click on the link and read my old article in full. There is a potential happy ending for the foreign worker in Singapore, but not for Madam Jin Pai Mai. A further excerpt from my original article:

"If you think a little further, you'd also wonder about what the future holds for someone like Madam Jin Pai Mia. Because there WILL come a day when she grows too old and weak to be cleaning toilets in an office building. Madam Jin will eventually be replaced by a strong, healthy Bangladeshi male worker. This young man will do the same work for 5 years, then return happily to Dhaka, buy a plot of land and start a rice farm that will support his family's needs for years and years to come.

Meanwhile, what will happen to Madam Jin? How long will her meagre retirement savings last her?"

Angry Voter said...

This old man is willing to give you an incompetent government when you did not pay up. This man wants to make life difficult for you when you did not pay up. He is willing to make you suffer a little when he cannot have his way.

My, my, if this guy can say such things, imagine if he really issue the order to go ahead. No one, no one under him have ever disobeyed his wishes.

WE ALL WILL SUFFER A DOSE OF INCOMPETENT GOVERNMENT.

Anonymous said...

To anon 12.01am "But your example was more to sensationalised your point."

Well Mr Wang's point is to highlight the amazing leap of logic and sensationalistic nature of LKY's outburst.

Anonymous said...

To angry voter, we ARE already suffering a dose of incompetent government.

LKY is so power hungry and fanatical about Singapore being his own kingdom that if ever a time comes for him to abdicate he will drag the country down with him. He would sacrifice anything and any Singaporean to preserve what he sees as rightfully his. In other words he has gone quite mad.

Anonymous said...

More maths? How about this:

Job of President + PM + SM + MM of Singapore = Job of President OR PM in any other country (unless you can find another 4-in-1 country).

Now, compare the total salaries of the 4 big elephants in Singapore to that of a President OR PM of that country.

Then compare the size (physical and economic) of Singapore to that of that country.

Now aren't those ratios ridiculous? How's that for exaggeration and sensationalism?

Anonymous said...

The man is spiteful. If he is not the emperor behind the scene, he'd rather see everybody suffer. Is that the true measure of a man?

Anonymous said...

It's humourous what dumb things our politicians say these days. But don't forget.....their word is final!

Anonymous said...

Speech by LTK in Parliament today and how he challenged the MM:

http://video2.channelnewsasia.com/cnavideos/multiplevideos_watermark.asp?skin=player1.swf&bgskin=playerbackground.swf&filename=Parliament%209%20Apr_Low%20Thia%20Kiang.flv&adfilebefore=cna%20video2.flv

Got the link from Sammyboy's

Anonymous said...

Hahaha!

The last part of LTK's speech is very funny. Even if we pay bananas (bigger than peanuts) we will still get monkeys!

Hahaha!

But hor, the reactions reveal that he has struck many raw nerves.

Anonymous said...

Deut 17:14-18 - The King:-
14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," 15 be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone can actually put Mr Wang's idea into practice. I heard that foreign maids in HK have a minimun wage of HKD 4000/mth, which is about SGD 800/mths. I am sure Singaporean maids will be welcome in HK since most Singaporean can speak a bit of cantonese. If Mr Wang is right, given a net salary of SGD 800 a month, i m sure the recruiters will have a field day here in Singapore. And further, there is a prospect of getting a PR in HK after working there for 7 years and will be able to leave this little red dot for good. I am already thinking of starting a HK maid agency!!!!LOL!

Anonymous said...

sitting in front of my computer, watching this unfurl from another part of the world. Very far removed from "home".
Perhaps I do not regret leaving as much.

amatu said...

"LKY is so power hungry and fanatical about Singapore being his own kingdom that if ever a time comes for him to abdicate he will drag the country down with him. He would sacrifice anything and any Singaporean to preserve what he sees as rightfully his. In other words he has gone quite mad."

LOL! Basically, i think, harry uses a lot of hair to cover his soiled underwear.

family man said...

I am a father of 3, I used to respect MM Lee a lot. As MM Lee makes his case on the pay, the country holds its breathe. Now I have to explain to my sons the meaning of self sacrifice, public duty, Service to the nation, volunteerism, and undo the bull shit MM Lee is serving up to the next generation. It is a sad development for Singapore Psyche. I feel so embarrassed that MMLee has to justify why PM Lee's pay should match Hsien Yang's pay. And what exactly does the President do to deserve $3mil? I scratch my head.

Anonymous said...

If you pay the President $1m, you're telling the people he's NOT an important person. So you must pay him as much as the PM so that people will think he's very IMPORTANT.

Also, by paying him $3M, the ministers can then justify to the people their own salaries.

Anonymous said...

So the facts speak for itself : The 2% GST increase is needed to fund part of the hefty pay increase for the Ministers & the civil servants without due regards for the people's sentiment. Alternatively we can also argue that if the Ministers obscene hike in pay was unnecessary in view of the fact the ordinal folks has suffered, there was no need to increase the GST from 5% to 7%. So what the fuck are the MIM then talking that the increase was to fund the social welfare benefits for the needy when the increase is only from $260 to S$290 per month.

To add insult to injury, the Health Minister is now saying that to prevent those from abusing the subsidy for patients who prolonged their stay in hospital to enjoy the subsidy, means testing will be used. I thought the decision whether to discharge any patient lies with the doctor-in-charge of the patient's overall well being and not up to each individual's fancy as implied by the Health Minister. And this is as if the sick patient likes to prolong his stay in hospital in order to hear fellow patients growling in pain in the middle of night or witness the passing away of fellow patients which is prevalent in Class B & C wards.

And to think of it, we have to thank such "competent" Ministers for making life more miserable especially for the lower income people.

Anonymous said...

bleedy hell! if pinkie clown wants to match his little brother's pay, then he shld simply resign and go join a tlc.

then again, the reason why he doesn't do that is becos he KNOWS he can't last long in a corporate world - albeit a tlc. his incompetencies will be exposed in many levels, dragging down the business performance...

in the civil service, being playing crown prince (since his old man has clearly not abdicated yet), he is also tasked to protect the familee's broad-based interests.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PmAP8GsJjk

Anonymous said...

Now it leaves with one PAP MP to publicly indicate that he / she disagrees with the cabinet's decision on TV and as a matter of principles and honour, he / she will resign as an MP to be one with the masses - because he/she truly represent the views of the masses, not the Cabinet.

I dream on?

Anonymous said...

Not every SOUL can be bought over by cold hard cash. I thank NMP Siew, Mr Chiam and Mr Low for their stand ! I salute you.

Anonymous said...

Not every SOUL can be bought over by cold hard cash. I thank NMP Siew, Mr Chiam and Mr Low for their stand ! I salute you.

No need to salute them. Chiam and Low will obviously oppose, and they will do so in frank, unapologetic language. As for Siew, his speech is way too polite. Then again if he isn't he can forget about being NMP.

Anonymous said...

The absence of choice breeds much stress and discontentment, often manifested through complaints.
We should perhaps focus our energies on widening the choices available on a personal basis as the real problem lies with the absence of choice.

Don't wait till you are left with only one choice.

Complaints can be classified as
The moan - "Why can't someone else make my problems go away".
The groan - "Your service stinks and I'm going to complain but still dine at your restaurant."
The lever - "Your service stinks and if you don't do something about it, I'm taking my business elsewhere"

Complaints used to work in the past as altruism is part of the social fabric. With altruism being classified as a liability, it has ceased to be an effective tool. Leverage has been and always will be effective.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

If the foreign maid is resourceful, she may choose to moonlight at Orchard Towers or ensnare the Missus's husband or son as her future prospective husband or sugar daddy.

Such opportunities will become a reality once the abundant opportunities are available to the foreign maid due to the future influx of foreign talents/immigrants into Singapore. In terms of prospects, I'm sure the foreign maid would definitely be much better off than our typical Singaporean cleaner aunty or uncle.

Anonymous said...

To Anon (April 10, 2007 7:49 AM )

"Maybe someone can actually put Mr Wang's idea into practice. I heard that foreign maids in HK have a minimun wage of HKD 4000/mth, which is about SGD 800/mths. I am sure Singaporean maids will be welcome in HK since most Singaporean can speak a bit of cantonese. If Mr Wang is right, given a net salary of SGD 800 a month, i m sure the recruiters will have a field day here in Singapore. And further, there is a prospect of getting a PR in HK after working there for 7 years and will be able to leave this little red dot for good. I am already thinking of starting a HK maid agency!!!!LOL! "

You might have some problems because unlike our bangladeshi or filipino FTs who will be able to return to their countries to BUY land and live a better life after working in Singapore for a couple of year, will a singaporean be able to return to singapore to do the same thing after earning HK4000/mth for a few years?

You might want to reconsider your business venture.

From Chonghan

Anonymous said...

Apropo:To anon 12.01am "But your example was more to sensationalised your point."


I agree absolutely. For example: Aunty Jin PM won't need to pay $250 to rent an HDB flat, lah! Where u got yr numbers from! She'd need to pay just $26 pm for a one-room flat but being single, she'd need to SHARE. So her rent is just $13pm. Geddit?

YCK said...

It seems that people on both sides of the debate have appealed too much to emotions. I know which side my symapthy lies with for the moment.

But if both sides could not agree on the reasonableness of the pay rise, maybe some method agreeable to both could be used to determine what the salaries should be pegged to.

The first thought that came to my mind was to run to the statisticians.

Ask them to concieve a model to account for the relationship between importatant attributes like age, education level, professional skills and experience, height, ethnicity, nationality etc. and pay in the private sector (mean, mode, nth percentile depending on the peg).

Fed the relevant variables from the Ministers into the model. Then we can agree on the peg, keeping in mind the statistical uncertainty. It is that simple.

I am willing to bet that not all the Ministers would be valued equally and to go out on a limb, the peg would not be the one currently accepted.

Hello. Any statistician out there?

ted said...

There are many kinds of statistician, whose statistician are you looking for?

Anonymous said...

well. perhaps, this is the beginning of the end. hang in there guys.

wilson said...

Hi,
http://app.sprinter.gov.sg/data/pr/20070409992.htm

73. The President, Prime Minister, Judiciary and Statutory Appointment Holders currently receive a fixed Service Bonus of 5 months instead of Performance bonus. The Service Bonus will be increased to 7 months which is in line with the 2 month increase in Performance Bonus quantum that those in grades MR4 and above could qualify for. About 20% of their salaries will be predicated on the GDP bonus.



Just want to comfirm, so does this means no matter what happen they will get 7 months bonus per year?

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but what have MM Lee and the rest of the Singapore cabinet been smoking? Ooops, they don't smoke, so maybe it's in some of the health supplements they have been taking.

Their intoxicating salaries and exalted status has removed them from reality.

And what is this about a dose of incompetent government?

Anonymous said...

To anon 2:35pm

almost correct, but you forgot PM Jin (i prefer this way of calling her... heh) earns $900, thus she has to pay between 90 to 123 if she's a first timer, or 150 to 205 if she's a repeat.

http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10202p.nsf/WPDis/Renting%20A%20Flat%20Directly%20From%20HDBPolicies%20-%20Public%20Rental%20Scheme?OpenDocument&SubMenu=Policies

YCK said...

ted:

What kinds are there? Any that is worth his salt should do. Probably one well-versed in economics. Maybe you could "volunteer" one?

Whose? One from the Stats Department would be great. The access to all the relevant data is a plus.

But seriously any statistician... out there? :b

Looking for some help said...

regardless of everything that's said, the government will do what the government wants to do

perhaps, given the huge amount of intelligent readers of this blog, you could share some ideas of how to get the better over them?

that would be truly useful

LOL*loser-quits-winner-stays*LOL said...

do your family and yourself a favour. emigrate. just do it.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see such shameless greedy men fleece the country with their perverse logics of 'meritocracy' and entitlement.

It may boggle the mind, but do realise that docile as Singaporeans may seem to be, they can be pretty desperate when cornered. Desperation makes them dangerous. Tyrants beware.

PAP... better watch your ass henceforth. Heed my solemn warning.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_domestic_product

"The components of GDP
...
G is the sum of government expenditures on final goods and services. It includes salaries of public servants, purchase of weapons for the military, and any investment expenditure by a government. It does not include any transfer payments, such as social security or unemployment benefits."

See how the policies of Singapore are influenced here?

Anonymous said...

maybe it is wise and timely to diversify yr assets into other countries..for maybe the singapore dollar may fall in such turbulent times ahead

Anonymous said...

errrr......isn't the doomsday msges a tad bit too much? lol..its just a pay raise for the ministers/civil servants. not like we are going to war or the stock market is going to crash. or anything.

Anonymous said...

well done Mr Wang!
thorough analyis supported with numerical examples!

But you forgot to deduct the 20% CPF contribution (that she will never get to touch because she will never hit the 80K or is it 120K ceiling?). Meaning her disposable income is effectively only sgd 720?

I hope a well-known & respectable media publishes this post of yours. (Not SPH of course)

Not forgetting when the maids go back to their hometown, they build houses bigger than a regular 5-room HDB flat, complete with a porch - loan free

it's dreadful to know that while we see 60,70yr-old aunties and uncles cleaning dishes in food courts, selling tissue paper or collecting soft drink cans just to stay alive for one more day, our dear govt is making themselves richer by the millions, dangling scholarship carrots in front of foreigners to lure them here, steal our jobs only to disappear for better prospects in the U.S. or back home to build their own country after several years of exploitings the money and resources here.

AND WE ARE PAYING FOR IT

I wish to get out of here before the locals become the ostracised community.

Ostracised by our own govt, what a joke!

Thanks to those fools who continue to support them.

I'm not going to have a child because I definitely can't see a future for him/her here.

And who's to say that if you fetch a high salary, it means you won't be corrupted? When you wield so much power and control, anything is possible.

POWER CORRUPTS

With just a snap of your fingers

What if they are highly paid and corrupted as well? that's scary

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is that the salary is pegged to top earners in Singapore.

Let's say, we adopted the other way round like what Low Thia Kiang mentioned during the rallies, to peg at the lower end of the band and give a multiplier of say 2000.

PM's pay will be $2,400,000.

Maybe that way, no one might complain.

Anonymous said...

I think you're leaving out the fact that a domestic worker here has to take money out of that $300 to pay for bills at home. You might also have left out the fact that the old aunty has other alternatives of employment or means to upgrade her skills.

Anonymous said...

we should always learn from history. to put it simply:

"power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely"

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, dynasties rise and dynasties fall. And then they become history.

Singaporean maid said...

Maid agency thingie may still work... if going to a REAL 1st world country with social security. Then maid will permanently exit shitapore, no longer to be fleeched by the PAPs. I've seriously considered this option.

Anyways, LTK's speech is really good. Hope the opposition parties will turn up in full force in next election. Afterall, crown prince had a lower winning margin than the national average. I agree with LTK's point about [PAP] claims that Singaporeans gave them the mandate, but Singaporeans did NOT write them a blank cheque. Our PAP govt is a huge international embarassment, uniquely Singapore!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous April 10, 2007 11:20 PM

Look beyond the issue of pay rise and think of the underlying motives and mentality of those leaders who support the pay rise. Observe their attitudes, performance and cover-ups/humongous mistakes that are glossed over, treatment of the ordinary citizens/poor and trends in their policies.

What you see is not all you will get. See the big picture and envision the future. May just start to pee in your pants.

Exodus said...

For quick recap on what our world's best-paid, efficient and effective PAP govt achieved in recent years. Before we short-term memory folks forget, anyone can chip in to the list below?

1. Haggled over $20-$30 handout for the elderly poor while increasing their own pay beyond international range

...

Anonymous said...

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5547.html

"Excerpt from "Conclusion: Trajectories of Globalization" in How Countries Compete: Strategy, Structure, and Government in the Global Economy by Richard H. K. Vietor.

So let's think a bit about the near-term future using scenarios that spring from the trajectories we've so carefully developed. We should start with Singapore, the most developed state in Southeast Asia. Here we saw how hard work, incredibly efficient institutions, and great leadership have made Singapore rich. But today, and for the foreseeable future, Singapore is being increasingly pressed by China and India on the low end, and more competitively by Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and Europe on the high end. Either its strategy of low taxes and networked clusters, particularly biotechnology, will work—or it won't. If it works, we can expect Singapore to become a services powerhouse in Southeast Asia, quickly catching up with the income levels of Europe. But if not, what would happen to Singapore's growth as it loses lower-end jobs and investments to China?"

Anonymous said...

Well, in the The Great Hall Debate, one Dr Chandra was asserting(not through his AI, i hope) that most of us would not balk an eyelid if some guy who does't shave or bother to wear a tie manages to earn billions belting out mind dumbing music, but when it comes to the serious business of running a country paying the right fee suddenly run counter to our logic and smack on our sensibilities. I am one totally flabbergsated by Chandra' sensibility and logic. Fans and audiences pay to attend their idols performances willingly or may i even say willfully. Though prices of the tickets maybe dictated by the performers and or their agents, it is beyond doubt that no one will be coerce to attend their (idols) performances. Respects have to be earned and won, a man's worth is to be assesed by others no matter who he is. To demand to be respected and or paid a quantum is unbecoming of anyone. I do no know what is happening and becoming of our society, where are the virtues and propriety? Respects seem to be a worthless virtue and value, money is prized and coveted so unshamefully and openly that one can't help feeling that DOOM IS INEVITABLE!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chonghan,

Thanks for you advice. Wouldn't it be better for them to go to HK than heading down to the MRT track!!! LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

"The cure to all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government,"

Ya hor. See what total allegiance to a self-proclaimed outstanding competent government can do for its people. They are always working together for the people. That's why it is critical to ensure it's continuity of government:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhzmQCHVa9o

Anonymous said...

There is no calamity greater than lavish desires.
There is no greater guilt than discontentment.
And there is no greater disaster than greed.
Lao-tzu (604 BC - 531 BC), The Way of Lao-tzu

Mr Wang Says So said...

"I think you're leaving out the fact that a domestic worker here has to take money out of that $300 to pay for bills at home."

Yes, I have left out the fact that the foreign domestic worker may have a family to support back in Indonesia or hilippines.

I think that my doing so is entirely valid, for in the case of Madam Jin Pai Mia, I have also left out the fact that the lady may also have a family to support here in Singapore (where the cost of living, I may as well add) is much higher than in Indonesia or Philippines.

Anonymous said...

I think PAP is driving all our womenfolk to become maids elsewhere.

I have a cousin who was retrenched from the finance industry a few years ago. Couldn't get a job because she was deemed too qualified and old (about 35).

She took up a childcare diploma and worked as a nanny in another country. Finally got her PR last year.

Says she is not coming back.

Her experience encouraged all of us. My children are seriously thinking of becoming tradespeople in other countries so we get some decent treatment.

No point studying so much just to be retrenched at 40. If you are not cut out to be elite, then find a better place to lead a peasant life.

I regret having my kids in Singapore. Citizenship is a liability. So I tell them to quit while they can.

At least they may start off as maids but go on to bigger things. In singapore, we end up as maids and tissue sellers in our twilight years, serving the foreign talents.

Anonymous said...

Without the ministers, singapore will still survive. Without the people, the Ministers including LKY are nothing.

Why glorified the Ministers and penalise the people?

Lau Min-tsek said...

A few points to note:

(1) I believe that the data cited are for average household income. Meaning the household may have more than 1 income provider. The actual salary per person who falls in the income bracket, from a statistical point of view, is therefore actually lower than the survey figures, since dual income is a common reality here. To that add some families have siblings or relatives living together who contribute to the household income. The picture is actually worse off.

I admit my treatment of the survey data may be flawed as I did not read the whole document (hence do not have concrete data on how the household income is calculated). Anyone who thinks I am wrong please comment.

(2) Low income jobs has a different CPF contribution scheme.

Below 55 yo, for salary $50-500, CPF Employer = 13%, Employee = NIL

Below 55 yo, for salary $501-750, CPF Employer = 13%, Employee calculated as below:

(Salary - $500) * 60%

So for a $700 worker, the employee CPF contribution is $120, employer CPF contribution is $91 and the actual take home pay is $580.

When your salary is as low as %580 take home pay, it is obviously going to be a challenge to feed a family. To feed one person I can still image, but not a family. You need to work your daily expenses from there.

(3) For low income earners, the actual take home cash is more critical than CPF savings, even taking account of employer contribution. It is the "now" that is more urgent than the "retirement", which is likely never to happen since you can't retire with so little CPF saving.

CPF liability in reality increases the "now" hardship of low income earners.

Of course, there is another side to it, as in using CPF for HDB payments, and a little retirement fund is better than no retirement fund.

(4) If you are young, earn less than $1000, wants to get married and to pay for a HDB flat..... well.....

Let's say you buy a 3 room HDB flat in the open market for $150,000. You pay 20% (assuming you have savings for the downpayment) and get a loan for the balance $120k. Spread over 30 years and assume NO INTEREST for simplicity, the monthly repayment is $333.33.

Obviously, if the $700 salary worker cited above is the sole bread winner, the CPF (total $211) is not enough.

If your household income is $1000, your CPF is $330. Still not enough....... if you take into account of medisave and special account contributions.

You will then have to dig into your take home pay to pay for the flat. Less for daily expenses.

(5) Anyone who is involved in hiring (such as me) will know that when hiring people for low paying jobs, it is critical to hire people who live nearby and who can either walk to work or the most just take a shuttle. Transportation cost eats into the salary significantly once you have to take public transport like MRT etc and very few people will even come for a job interview if the job is not nearby.

Such consideration is less for higher paying jobs for obvious reasons.

So if you only qualify for a low paying job, the reality and PRACTICE is to limit yourselves to jobs near your home in order to save a few bucks. This then have the consequence of lowering your job options and further depress your prospects.

Anonymous said...

To anon April 10, 2007 10:14 PM

So does that means that with the pays of Ministers and Civil Servants salaries increases, the GDP will also goes up? If true, then the Ministers pays will also goes up next years as the GDP had increases? Cyclical increment as "attached" to GDP?

Anonymous said...

To annon atApril 10, 2007 11:56 PM

You must be out of your mind or you must be young. Don't you know that there are age and nationality discrimination around. Tell us, what can the old Uncle and Aunty be retrain in?

Don't you know that there are many unemployed PMETs in our forties, many have been laid off since 1997, still trying to survive. Not that we don't want to be retrain. It just that Gov and private sector prefer to employ and train FT rather than given us an opportunity.

Anonymous said...

When sg falls, those ministers will take their money and flee the country. Perhaps, they probably have significant amount stashed in other countries and exempted from tax.

The key word is: flee.

They, the ministers flee when sg falls. With such intent,how can they be trusted.

Anonymous said...

anon apr 11 2007 1139, i believe you are right, it is a matter of time when we will see MIWs resign with health reason and all kinds of other sickening reasons. It will be good if there are laws to forbid cabinet members from migrating and leaving sg permanently. They should be acccountable for the consequences of their policies having been paid a sum they remunerate themselves while in office. For their claims of loyalty alone, they should enjoy lives together or die together with their subjects and citizens1

Anonymous said...

Indonesian family is looking for a governess to look after two young children. No need to cook or do housekeeping, as they already have 5 Indonesian maids to look after the mansion with swimming pool in Jakarta. Objective? To teach the kids t speak English. Salary $2000+ Any takers?

Siu said...

The only person who's trying to immortalize MM Lee is the Lee himself and his 'elite' group of ministers that needs 'mentoring' even at the ministerial level. So much for 'able generals'. Maybe next time he'll give himself the Minister Saint title shortly before he leaves us. haha

a simple singaporean said...

Why don't Singaporeans stop paying for such things like COEs, and use public transport instead?

That'll mean less money flowing into the coffers of the govt (COE, road tax, ERP, petrol duty, GST) to do such things.

James said...

The real purpose of govt is not to screw up the country and screw up its people. Nobody owes Singapore a living. A defiant and self righteous govt capable of rationalising its own policies without engaging the people is basically a govt tat will lead the country down the toilet. No wonder there are talent leaks.

Meng Chong said...

To Anon April 9, 2007 11:17 PM.

"Two out of three Singaporeans voted in a government that's only interested in perpetuating their own interests."

To be specific it is 2 out 3 Singaporeans who got to vote during the last election that voted a government ..... well you know the rest.

Fact this due to the massive workovers MORE THAN HALF of the Singapore voters DIDN'T get to vote.

Meng Chong said...

As for the many ministers who came out in defence of their pay rise. Thing is, they are the elected representatives of Singaporeans. From a layman prospective, the government is an employee of the people!

Well anyone tried walking into the boss's office and make a stirring defence as to why they ought to be paid more? You probably get fired in a flash!

Anonymous said...

Aiya! why get so jealous with his pay rise? You must think of places we go like Geylang or Ochard Tower, he cannot go. As and when we like to go Batam or JB, we just go as long as we have a valid passport but our highest paid ministers have to get special permit from the host country and need bodyguards to accompany him. When you are being threatened by loan shark (Ah long) he send his people to protect you. You dont even need to thanks him for that. What else you want? Think he should be paid higher than $3.1 mil

Here is my new pledge for Singapore. :- "We the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as One DICTATED people. Regardless of race, language or religion based on justice and equalitiy so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our LEADERS."

Anonymous said...

ministers forgot tat they r also MPs representing e ppl who voted them in.

Anonymous said...

So the PM will be donating his salary increase -- to charity, for double tax deduction? Previously, we thought we'd be paying for his raise (but at least we'd get 20% of that back through his income tax); now we'll not only pay for his raise, but pay his income tax too (no more 20% rebate). Ingenius!

Anonymous said...

Try reading LKY name in mandarin backwards. Yao Kuan Lee , " Dry You Up" lol

Naomi said...

"PM will be donating his salary increase" - what he said is that he will be paid the full increased sum, and he will donate the increased amount i.e. the taxpayers will still be robbed in broad daylight, and none the wiser what "charity" he is parking the money in. Note also his "generosity" is limited to 5 years. From then on till 65 when he claims a new prime minister will be installed, he will grab all the goodies, adjusted obscenely highly again by the crooked formula, of course. Then it's SM pay, and after that, MM pay, all the way to his father's precedent of 84 and still counting. Some generosity indeed.

Anonymous said...

simple singaporean April 11, 2007 4:03 PM

You can dream on. Our government is extremely capable of getting money out of us through various ways and means. Even if we reduce their revenue from road tax, they will find another ingenious way of helping us to help them pay for their expenditure.

This is an outstanding government you know.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous April 11, 2007 2:06 PM

That must be a cheapskate Indonesian. Governess is full time. It is baby-sitter+teacher. A full time teacher alone can easily get above 2000+ and the MOE is desperate.

Worse still, they are unreliable paymasters. There are teachers who went to Indonesia to teach but got played out. Integrity? Look at the sand fiasco.

Anonymous said...

sorry, can somebody help me with maths; i am not as talented as the elite.

Base pay from 2 million to 3 mill, 30%? if 2.5 million including bonus, then what is 3 mill? base pay? if 3 mill includes bonus, how come he knows is going to have that amount? or how much of the 3 mil is variable? i thot easier to compare base on the basic pay.

smoke screen....

Anonymous said...

Here is my new pledge for Singapore. :- "We the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as One DICTATED people. Regardless of race, language or religion based on justice and equalitiy so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our LEE EMPIRE."

Anonymous said...

Maybe LHL thinks he will live to a ripe age of 120, so he doesn't mind the short-term pain of forgoing five years of increments.

Anonymous said...

a long term solution might be for singapore to merge with hinterland malaysia..possibly in order for people to enjoy a higher quality of life with more personal space, more green, more natural resources, less costly governance, and yet still able to enjoy top-ranking airport.

Anonymous said...

Where is the conscience< the virtue< the propriety? This question remains valid until salaries of Ministers are down by twenty five percent or more> Of course they can move to private sectors anytime they wish!

your loyal reader said...

Wang,

1st, you clearly stated that opposition said that bottom 20% earns 1500 per month, which I believe this is credible.

2nd, then... you refer to your old post of 2005 where it was stated from ST that bottom 20% earns less than $1200. This I think may be credible eventhough you have often criticise ST for selective reporting.

3rd, then... you refer to another ST article in 2007 where it says the bottom 30% earn less. But no average pay was mentioned.

You are legally trained. While you are not twisting any facts here, you are influencing your readers by inferring that since income has dropped for the bottom 30%, income for the 20% could not have been risen, and thus government is incompetent.

But in the beginning of the para, it has stated that bottom 20% has improved from "less than $1200" to $1500.

To borrow another commenter's comment, I think you are sensationalising your post.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are so easily conned. Donating salary increment = no pay increase.

Think again hor. LHL will and must still be paid the revised higher pay because "that is how the system works".

Anonymous said...

I got a monthly gross pay of about one thousand three hundred dollar in the year two thousand and five AD but earned nothing from May last year due to burnout!

Anonymous said...

To: Your loyal reader

When is the govt competent? Care to elaborate and maybe we can have a better view of competency you are refering to.

Anonymous said...

please dun anyhow change the pledge. it is not the work of the lee family but of the late DPM Rajaratnam. show some respect to the man. and to your country. please.

ZhuKoLiang said...

great post Mr Wang.

Marilyn said...

"Your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries," he said.

Can I just ask.. What's wrong with being a maid?!

Anonymous said...

Pls dont complain about their salary increment. It is the majority of Singaporean voted for the ruling party and gave them the mandate to do so. If I am the ruling party, I will do the same. Increase as and when I like, what can u do?

Anonymous said...

To Anon (April 11, 2007 1:36 AM):

"Hi Chonghan,

Thanks for you advice. Wouldn't it be better for them to go to HK than heading down to the MRT track!!! LOL!!! "

haha, Brilliant suggestion!! But I can't help but wonder that if they had money to go HK, stay there to look for a job while sustaining themselves for the first month before the first paycheck, would they need to jump down MRT tracks?

The end result might be that they would have to now beg, borrow or steal money to go HK and finally jump down MTR tracks instead.

Don't ya think?

From Chonghan

Anonymous said...

Donation to a worthy cause? Could one be more vague than that? Not as if we don't know where the money in charity goes to.
On the other hand I must commend MP Lily Neo, for bringing up the Public Assistance issue and donating her pay rise to help the poor. That's concrete action - not some ambiguous charity which will eventually channel taxpayer's hard-earned money elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

LL...nothing much anyone can do about it. Not happy.. migrate and be labeled quitters.

your loyal reader said...

to Anon 12/4, 12.37am

I think you misinterpret my statement.

I was saying that Wang uses stats to show that our government was incompetent, but I feel that the stats used was misleading.

I did not make a stance on the competency issue.

Anonymous said...

"Your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries,"

interesting,y not also say we will return to the times of fishing village and everyone has to dig a hole on the ground to shit as there is no toilet.

Anonymous said...

Watch Zahari's 17 years to understand why S'pore needs such a huge army. The old vindictive man lives in fear and denial for his past deeds.

The Oriental Express said...

No wonder the President and his wife are getting fatter and fatter... both monetarily and physically? Exactly what does he do? Going around in motorcade on National Day and entertaining foreign guests and dignitaries and getting his cholestoral higher and higher!

Mary said...

"The old vindictive man lives in fear and denial"
Even his son admits to runnning a "paranoic government" (his own choice of words). Always the epitome of kiasui and kiasi, spending his waking hours trying to "fx the opposition." That's why the "kan si tui" gave his "pa si tui" a blackeye in the last election.

Anonymous said...

I am just a cab driver. 20 yrs ago I bought an 4 HDB flat at 60K and the flag up fee for a taxi is $1.60. Now if u buy a similar HDB flat at the same location, it cost u about 240K and the flag up fee for a taxi is $2.50. Hence The cost of an HDB flat has shot up by 4 fold and my income as a cab driver does not even increase by 1 fold.

Moreover the lower income group like us pay at least $2 when our bank account is less than $500 and those with high income group pay nothing. How do u expect normal citizens like us manage with such high cost of living standard? The trend seems to widen the gap between the rich and poor.

If T.T Durai pay package of $600k is peanuts, how do u classify our income. I assume is less than the value of a peanut. Singapore is a place for the rich and famous.

Anonymous said...

The six hundred thousand dollars that T T Durai was paid annually equals the six hundred thousand dollars LHL wants to donate away for the next five years annually. View in this context it could be implied that six hundred thousand sindollars could indeed be peanut. BUT...it is about the amount i earn in my lifetime!

Anonymous said...

It is the value of the peanut skin! which is usually throw away by peanut eaters. And maybe to evaluate and compare< we are no better than maids in our own country!

Anonymous said...

This and other new policies show there is a disconnect between goverment and people; even if anyone of them could see this, they will place blame for the fault with the people.

If we do not voice our concerns, we will get more of the same.

When we voice our concerns, we are told off.

Maybe we needed a dose of incompetent government to appreciate this one, and we'll never know if we don't try.

Other countries don't have our brilliant government and system, but they have done just fine.

Our problem has always been a top down way of doing things - if we are lucky we will slowly move towards a truly more consultative way.

And one in which people will have a chance to rise to the top without going through the 'normal' channels where they are talent spotted.

I'd prefer to choose our leaders than have them chosen for us.

Anonymous said...

yin & yew

A tourist was visiting a temple in Singapore when he noticed a statue, with two faces, a man and a woman, back to back, by the altar.

He asked the monk what was the significance of the two.

The monk explained that in the Chinese belief of yin and yang, positives must always be balanced by negatives, and having the statue with two sides ensures that the universal balance is maintained.

"This statue of the woman is the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan-Yin."

"What about the other one?" asked the tourist.

"The one with the man's face is the God of No Mercy, Kuan-Yew.."