Jan 6, 2012

Grace Fu Should Consider Resignation

Singapore has the world's most highly-paid ministers. If I recall correctly, they have held this world record for about the past 20 years. It is a record that has caused a huge amount of public unhappiness. Especially in the past decade, during which the government didn't ever seem to be particularly impressive or outstanding.

Now, finally, ministerial salaries are going to be cut. Mind you, after these cuts (which are quite substantial in percentage terms - about 36%), the ministers will STILL hold their world record. Which must surely suggest to any half-intelligent person how grossly overpaid the ministers have been all along.

But then you get the likes of Grace Fu (who is our Minister of State for something or the other). Writing on her own Facebook wall, Fu says:
“When I made the decision to join politics in 2006, pay was not a key factor. Loss of privacy, public scrutiny on myself and my family and loss of personal time were. The disruption to my career was also an important consideration. I had some ground to believe that my family would not suffer a drastic change in the standard of living even though I experienced a drop in my income. So it is with this recent pay cut. If the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for any one [sic] considering political office.” Grace Fu.
Now, lots of Singaporeans are angry with Grace Fu. The comments have come thick, fast and furious. As of right now, her Facebook post has drawn about 1,300 comments (that's about 650 times the average number of comments on her other Facebook postings). And of course, there is plenty of negative media attention, online and in the newspapers too.

Putting aside the other issues for now, I'm startled at Grace Fu's lack of political sensitivity. It was really, really stupid and unnecessary of her to write such a thing. Fu wasn't even under pressure. It wasn't as if she was at a press conference, and a belligerent journalist had just thrown an unexpected and difficult question at her, and she couldn't think fast enough about what best to say.

Instead - we can imagine it - there she was, relaxing in her living room, playing with her iPad, sipping a nice cup of tea, logging in to check her messages. And then suddenly, Fu decided to write what she wrote. On Facebook. Not in a private journal, not in a personal memo, but on Facebook.

She must have totally failed to foresee what would happen next.

What poor judgment! What a severe lack of foresight. And she's a minister, for goodness sakes. Who knows what other horrible errors she might have spoken or written, on other past occasions.

Now, of course Fu is backpedalling and she has made a statement that she had been "misunderstood". This is damage control .... for completely self-inflicted damage. LOL, that is funny.

Imagine this - you are a minister, and you say something, the public is shocked and angry. And then you say, "Oh, all of you tens of thousands of people, you've misunderstood me. I am the poor, unfortunate, misunderstood one."  Sing me another song, birdie.


"Me talk cock. Also can sing song.
How much you pay me?"


If Grace Fu can be so badly misunderstood, then that surely says something about Grace Fu's  communication skills. It is extremely difficult to get thousands of people to misunderstand you. I am sure that I could not possibly succeed in pulling off such a feat. (But then I am not a PAP minister, I lack such talent).

However - and this will surprise many of my own readers - I am not actually angry about the content, the actual substance, of Grace Fu's statement.

Why am I not angry?

Look - this woman is merely a product of the system. And what is the system that I speak of? It is the PAP recruitment system that Lee Kuan Yew decided to create, 20 years ago. A system that deliberately entices job applicants with world-record-setting amounts of money.

The inevitable result - the PAP attracts many talented political wannabes whose main interest is in the money. (Meanwhile, talented political wannabes who just hope to serve the nation can join the Workers' Party - like Chen Show Mao did).

And when the money gets cut, well, you can naturally expect the PAP ministers (at least, the more money-minded ones) to get upset. Isn't that logical? If you had come for the money, then you WOULD be upset by a pay cut, surely.

My blog post is entitled "Grace Fu Should Consider Resignation". Sounds sensationalist, doesn't it? But it isn't really. (I'm not that kind of blogger, lah). Let me just explain my thinking.

It goes like this - if any minister is really very unhappy with his or her pay, then he or she can always quit. It's not like they are being forced to be ministers.

Unhappy employees don't perform well - we know that from our own experiences in working life. It is better for the company if they quit. It is better for themselves too, for they can go elsewhere and find another job that is more satisfying for them.

Why would we expect things to be any different for our ministers? If they are not happy with their pay, they won't perform well. They should just quit and get a more lucrative job elsewhere (if they can, of course). After they resign as ministers, Singapore can replace them with new ministers who care less about the money, and care more about serving the nation.

So I say this to all the ministers - if you're not happy with your pay, please quit. Now, rather than five years later. Do yourself a favour, and do the country a favour. Just get out.

97 comments:

Sgcynic said...

Yes! Ministers, take the lead

Anonymous said...

If she finds it so to make ends meet, she should go and work in the private sector.

But judging from all of them, I really dont think, they are competitive enough to draw a similar salary.

Stop whinning Grace, lead the way and show your peers how to be a real woman of substance.


Or is complaining all that you are good for? Give us, your peers and most importantly your kiddies hope. go out there in the real world and earn your keep like millions of other hard working Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

Mr wang,

You speak of what we singaporeans all wanting to say, with alittle more details and truth.

Its just utterly disappointing that the current batch of ministers are all just mercenaries for our govt.

Where are the ministers who truly care for us?

Singaporean

SG Girl said...

They must be wondering what's the big deal of they being the highest paid ministers in the world since they are the best of the best who are willing to sacrifice their high paying career and personal time to serve us Singaporeans.

Gilbert, glad to see that you're back in blogging these social & political issues.

Anonymous said...

Please Grace Fu, you have my support and my sympathy. Do not do anything against your will and be miserable.

You and your family must have suffered these last few years. For that, we are sorry.

I am sure you and your family have made enough sacrifices. For that, we thank you.

Now it is time to look after yourself and resume your career in the private sector.

Dont look back.

Anonymous said...

Yes,
Grace Fu should be GraceFul to quit if she is not happy about paycut. She forget that the most unhappy of them all is in fact taxpayers like us who work day and night, and for some 7 days a weeks, paying for her luxury greedy life through taxpayer's money and nation's monies. And how can she still complain when we are so gracious to those ministars who never responsible and accountable of anything but yet we pay millions.

Please step down so we the citizens can be graceful.

Anonymous said...

MR WANG,
I HAVE ONLY ONE WORD TO ADD TO YOUR ARTICLE: "EXACTLY". :)

Based on what Grace Fu has said, Gerard Ee's recommendation has not gone far enough for if he has done so, we could actually be treated to the spectacle of watching the mercenary members of PM Lee's cabinet jumping ship!

Anonymous said...

"Slip of the tongue , no fault of the mind."
Now, will the 60.1% do the right thing the next time round?
How many more evidence do you really need?The 39.9% has been suffering for more than 5 years now.

Sgcynic said...

Lacking political acumen and sensitivity. From the ministers who lament that Singaporeans are choosy and unwilling to work in ulu parts of Singapore at world class salary levels depressed by foreign talents to extent that one's salary is barely sufficient for oneself let alone support a family. Thus understand why people are quick to "misunderstand" you. Also reflect on your communication and ask why it is fault thousands instead of one.

Anonymous said...

Can someone verify if these million-dollars ministers pay tax for their millions in the past ? Last I heard that they exempted from paying tax unlike lesser mortals. I like to find out if these ministars still have conscience.

And I heard some senile useless old man abolish estate duty once his wife is dying ? Can someone confirm it ? extraordinary coincidence always follow PAP, don't it ?

KAM said...

Singaporeans (many of them and us) are simply too money minded. The L family has long identified this carroty approach as the best way to "get talents".
Unfortunately, it is true many people in public office are just doing their job for the money.
Many of them are also "appointed" because they are benefactors of open and hidden nepotism. If names are mentioned, I will be sued and made bankrupt. Worse, they will dig up dirty laundry from my HDD.

The great mightly rising Dragon of Asia is now reduced to a pee sai (nose shit) and also broken MRT systems. The focus is on economic growth and so on, that simple things like basic maintenance (of MRT and normal citizens' lives) are no longer the focus of the ministers.
The star of the PAP was Mah who invented COE and ERP. He made so much money then and then he is transferred to HDB to reinvent the system to MAKE MORE MONEY.
Money which normal singaporeans cannot use, but this money can surely be used to pay the ...you know who.
Sad la.

Anonymous said...

Any reason why Singaporeans should not push for a national REFERENDUM to tell the govt whether we approve of what Gerard Ee's review.

It is a no brainer that PM Lee agreed to accept what Ee and his committee finally came up with. How is the public to know it wasn't thrown back to Ee by the cabinet behind the scene before the cabinet and Lee finally accepted what Ee finally came up with? We are entitled to speculate since there is ABSOLUTELY NO TRANSPARENCY IN THE PROCESS!!!

Anonymous said...

We are seeing my brainless, insensitive pappies speaking truthfully of what they really think..
I believe that this is not new - just that, previously, they were just not reported..
In an era of new media where every pappie minister, MP & their dog has a FB acct - hell break loose..
I still remember post 2011 GE, all pappies MPs seemed to be given PR training to include "how HUMBLED" they were to be elected blah blah blah in their victory speech.. Less than a year later, we are seeing the true colours..
Anyways, I agree that she should resign.. I mean, she's in yuhua smc.. So a bi-election would not affect any other pappies MPs right?

Anonymous said...

It is time they wake up and feel how Singaporean felt to be forced to be CHEAPER, BETTER and FASTER. All these years they told Singaporeans to be realistic and swallow a huge depressed and stagnant wages. Now they try to think otherwise for themselves. How contradictory and out of touch. I seconded the idea that all these money-faced ministers should quit. Singapore has not lack of opposition members to take on their role.

RalliartSG said...

No Mr Wang, I want you to know that you do not reflect what majority of Singaporean feels.

Grace is just warning us that if this continue, we will not attract the best talent. Why read so much in between the lines??

If she does not have a passion, she would have left without a word.

And to one of the anonymous, Grace is telling you she suffers a drop in salary when she joined politics. So yes, she is definitely capable of earning more. If I were her, I would have left. But she is braving the storm so that other less capable ones do not take the opportunity to make a mess of the country.

Anonymous said...

"Grace is just warning us that if this continue, we will not attract the best talent. Why read so much in between the lines??"

You still don't get what Mr Wang is implying. You should view it under the context of million-dollars ministers. The PAP ministers are grossly overpaid and the last thing you need is such a minister that warn us of such consequence because it show political insensitivity.
We don't need a minister without moral authority to peach us that, do we ? It is like the minister just trying to save face by lecturing us in turn.

Anonymous said...

On top of that,
for a affected minister to comment like that seem to bring the message that she is trying to protect her own salary from further deduction.

Perception is reality, nevermind what she thinks, it is what the public think that is of most important. She could be just AYA minister with IQ but lack EQ, and worst she probably there due to nepotism.

Anonymous said...

Minister Grace Fu lacks grace is a damn fool to say what she did.

Me told her in her Facebook, when she exhorted the ladyfolks to join the workforce, that there WILL BE COMPROMISE. I even suggested that she look at herself, though me for a moment was thinking that she make personal sacrifices with that of her family for a patriotic calling. Now, it seems my view then was absolutely mistaken.

Yes, Mdm Fu should just do the people a favour now, resign and free the people(electorates) from the distaste of people like her and some of her Cabinet colleagues.

May I say that Singapore will be in good shape even if half the Cabinet resign. There are sweet talkers, sour and spiteful Members and boasters that Singaporeans feel shameful to be led by such leaders.
In any case, a tiny dot does not require such a HUGE CABINET.

patriot

Jeffrey said...

Mr Wang....we really miss you mastery of accurate political commentary...I can only thank DisGRACEFU for having the this "Mis-Understanding" for drawing you back to the political social blogging arena...welcome back!!! I am not startled at all!..The BEAST.

RalliartSG said...

I would say Singapore is going to be in disaster should even a quarter of the ministers resign.

Don't you get it? It is so simple to be a populist. The government can simply remove all the ERP, take away half of the work permits and stop foreigners from coming in overnight. You think their salary will be at stake if they do that? Not at all. Will that win the votes? Absolutely. Why then aren't they doing that? Any of you have the answer? Perhaps one of you anonymous can think about it before answering, or Mr Wang?

Reason why they are not doing them is because they are responsible for the long term, not just doing whatever it takes to win votes. They do not implement policies that work well a few years yet in the long run we will suffer. And by suffering I mean drop in standard of living, many jobs lost because MNCs lost confidence in Singapore and relocate operations, tourist arrivals dwindling because self centered Singapore is no longer attractive, etc. I can go on and on. The downward spiral is real and can occur quickly. Hope you guys realize.

Mr Wang said...

Ralliart, goodness, your standards are so high. I wouldn't expect the ministers to meet them.

I just hope for a Singapore where the public trains don't break down for seven hours; where terrorists don't succeed in escaping from supposedly high-security prisons; where the Gini coefficient measuring the rich-poor income gap isn't the highest in the world; where there isn't a chronic flooding problem even in prime areas and tourist attractions; and where wage growth has been stagnant for more than a decade.

Anonymous said...

Poor communications skills and political acumen sorely missing, hallmarks of our so call elected leaders. Perhaps it is time for them to show results, which have been very poor lately. Wonder how can the old man accept this 1st world standard, massive train breakdowns, floods, bank fraud,littering etc. Sounds very much like the Philipines, cause we have so many Pinoys nowadays.

The said...

/// RalliartSG said...
And to one of the anonymous, Grace is telling you she suffers a drop in salary when she joined politics. So yes, she is definitely capable of earning more. ///

You think so? You think she would have gotten her sinecure at NOL if she were not James Fu's daughter? You think NOL is a truly private sector company? Where do the PAP put all their failed politicians? GLCs, of course. And where do the PAP parked their potential candidates for high office just before elections so that they appear to be from the private sector? Again, GLCs.

Anonymous said...

Our ministers are actually enjoying a monthly salary increase of 23.8%!

This is because in 2010, our ministers received a total of 34.5 months but only 20 months in 2011.

e.g. for ministers with grade MR2:

2010 monthly salary: $62,194 ($2,145,700 divided by 34.5 months)

2011 monthly salary: $77,000 ($1,540,000 divided by 20 months)

77,000 / 62,194 = 123.8%

Anonymous said...

Don’t understand how the committee derive the figure (37% cut).

Q1: By pegging to the top earners’ pay, ministerial pay will rise and fall in tandem with the top earners’ pay for that year. Then how does the committee know that it will be a cut of 37%?

Q2 : If ministerial pay are pegged to the median of top 1,000 earners, then why there are a total of another 12 months variable pay for the ministers?

Anonymous said...

The garment always quote loss of income of a select few to emphasise how much sarcifice these people made.

In fact, more of them had substantial salary increase after they were appointed to offices. Some of the younger ones were earing below 10K or even jobless before the elections and yet they were promoted so rapidly alongside a big fat pay check.

Anonymous said...

"So yes, she is definitely capable of earning more."

If she capable of earning more, for heaven sake, then she should quit and join private corporation or GLC rather than show her displease over salary cut.


Sure she maybe definitely capable of earning more but the same could be said of many Singaporeans who are willing to take her place with genuine passion to serve the people with lower pay and be more competent than her :)


Mr Wang has said that what she done so far is not outstanding at all and I concur, and we affirm that we can all NOT miss her as minister.

Anonymous said...

“Ministerial pay pegged to the median income of top 1,000 Singaporean earners less 40 per cent”

Then the widening of income gap will benefit the ministers, i.e. the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand why our ministers’ performances are NOT based on the well-being of the majority 99.95% Singaporeans but the top 0.05% Singaporeans.

Mr Wang said...

This probably deserves a separate blog post in itself - but I think that it's also disturbing to note the number of ministers we need to run a small country.

IIRC, long ago, we basically had one Prime Minister, a Deputy Prime Minister, and a Minister for each ministry.

Nowadays? We have all of the above, plus "minister mentor", "senior minister", "minister of state", "minister without portfolio", "2nd minister of state", "acting minister" etc etc.

Who knows what will happen in the next 10 years? Will we get someone like a 3rd Senior Minister of State for Defence, or a 4th Minister Mentor for Education? With a little ingenuity, the PAP could engineer many ministers for each ministry, eg

Minister of Health
Second Minister of Health
Deputy Minister of Health
Minister of State for Health
Senior Minister of State for Health
2nd Minister of State for Health
Senior Minister of Health

Multiply this across 11 or 12 ministries, and it looks like almost every PAP MP could be a minister and collect something at least close to a million dollars.

Anonymous said...

Then we may even have .... Tin Pei Ling for Minister!

Of course she will probably get a lowly title like 5th Acting Deputy Junior Minister of State on Probation without Portfolio .... But she could still collect $900,000+ .... excluding bonuses.

Anonymous said...

//Our ministers are actually enjoying a monthly salary increase of 23.8%!//

Yes, the 37% cut is calculated based on the exception year 2010, for that year, our ministers received a whopping 18.5 months performance, GDP and other bonuses on top of the fixed pay of 16 months.

Amused said...

"Q2 : If ministerial pay are pegged to the median of top 1,000 earners, then why there are a total of another 12 months variable pay for the ministers?"

Good question. I assume the income of the top 1,000 earners already include bonus etc. So with the additional bonus, the minister pay is probably pegged to the median of top 500 earners. This is beyond obscene.

With such a big group of top talents (at least they seem to think so), where are the Singapore version of Apple, Facebook, or Berkshire Hathaway?

Anonymous said...

"it's also disturbing to note the number of ministers we need to run a small country."

Agree. Not only their salary is obscene, the size of the cabinets are just as obscene. To them, it just like the more the merrier.

RalliartSG said...

Oh no Mr Wang. Now I get why you are so way off on your take of the govt. Singapore is not the worst in gini coefficient. It is ahead of Hong Kong and Thailand. But the most important thing to note on reading indicators, is to know its limitation. Please spend more time understanding the index. And please do not just look at one indicator. There are others like top 10 vs bottom 10, etc. Take more time to study them all then share with the rest of your followers here your findings of where Singapore stand.

And let's be fair. Do talk about the good side of things as well.

I do totally agree that the flooding issue in Orchard is really bad and needs complete overhaul. Please also understand why it happened. Some things are difficult to avoid but it is when happened, how we deal with them.

Mas Selamat incident is also very regretful. But on the terrorist topic, we haven't been bombed, have we? Don't you feel fortunate that our country is safe? Do you think it's only by luck or you can be fair and give the govt some credit?

On the train issue, I think having the first breakdown after so many years is no mean feat. But Mr Wang, like you mention, I have high expectation and so have you. I think SMRT CEO step down is a good indication on how bad this is, whether its the breakdown or how SMRT poorly handled the situation when the breakdown happened. But again, let's look at public transport holistically. Many European countries have their trains and planes and airports on standstill when there is a strike. I always boast that in Singapore, we won't have this issue.

And I would like to address "The", who is obviously not please with GLC. Don't be jealous even if your dad didn't land you a good job. I got my current job on my own as well. If you are working in a company, you should know everything is about relations. A good example is family business like UOB. Or are you more familiar with Prada family? Don't they also have their children take over the business? It does have an unfair advantage if you were to ask me. But ultimately whether a company survive and thrive under the new leadership is key. And as a shareholder of GLCs as we all are, I really don't care who is running the company or how he/she gets there. I am only interested in whether he/she does a good job in taking the company forward.

Anonymous said...

Ms Grace Fu should consider her old job in PSA,but better if she can join truly multi-national company.

Good luck to her.

Mr Wang said...

Railart, you're right. Singapore's income gap, depending on how the methodology, is not always the highest in the world. Sometimes it is the 2nd highest or 3rd highest.

Errr, your point is? Therefore the ministers deserve the world's highest ministerial standards?

I don't intend to quibble with you over the details. Basically, you should be intelligent enough to understand the point.
Singaporeans wouldn't be so angry with the ministers' amazingly high pay, if they actually felt that the government was actually doing an amazingly good job. This may be why there was relatively little dissatisfaction with the ministers salaries through the 1990s.

Unfortunately - for all of us - through the past decade, the government has fumbled on housing, public transport, national security, income growth, healthcare.

Anonymous said...

Dear RalliartSG,

Do not ever forget the following horrible possibility:

“Your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is,” LKY warned, “your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people’s countries.”

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember that infamous remark.

How terrible. We need to pay our ministers THE WORLD'S HIGHEST MINISTERIAL SALARIES just to save our women from being maids in other countries.

Seems like we are paying a very high price to achieve a very low standard.

Anonymous said...

Gilbert,

A wonderful post. Glad you're back writing about politics. Woe when we only have clueless reporters in the MSM writing one-sided stories. "if the balance is tilted further.... fill in the blanks."

You are spot-on about how the comments were unsolicited. Is she like dumb? Goes to show how pampered these princesses are and simply lack political experience. This is the problem in Singapore. Very few of our so-called political talents have political experience including the PM.

I agree with one of your readers. Have a REFERENDUM. This issue should not be allowed to die. They will find red herrings and continue to gag the media which is why bloggers must keep at it.

Second, since its our money, we should push for their wealth to be declared once-and-for-all.

I cannot fathom how people can spend over 70k a month. What do they spend their money on? Riches beyond the imagination of people everywhere. Singaporean greed is getting out of control and embarrassing. Shameful that they are our leaders and setting a terrible example for society! Most Singaporeans are cash-strapped and can't even take out their CPF money. So immoral.

Has the PAP and the PM lost their moral credibility and political legitimacy to rule? That is the question.

Amused said...

@RalliartSG,

I'm sure you are pretty comfortable having the Lee (and extended) family taking up key posts in the public enterprise called SG. There is a banned word for it, called "nep****." I could not care less if it were a private enterprise.

Anonymous said...

Today's story about TPL and her allowance got me fuming. She speaks so casually about 10k as if it is free air. Like Mrs Goh's infamous peanuts comment. And her parents were hawkers?

These people have absolutely no sense of proportion and this girl is such an air-head, I'm still in shock she takes home 16k per month. Not bad for a ditz.

Anonymous said...

海燕, 你这么快把南洋女中『勤朴端慎』的校训抛到九霄云外?
下台回去PSA或那些要你的大公司领取你的百万薪水吧,不要丢人现眼!

Haven’t you remembered that every Nanyang girl should live out the virtues embodied in the NYGH’s motto, “Diligence, Prudence, Respectability, Simplicity”, Grace?
Resign NOW since you have been so unhappy with the revised pay! Go get your million dollars pay check with PSA or any big company out there!

Anonymous said...

“Ministerial pay pegged to the median income of top 1,000 Singaporean earners less 40 per cent”

Median of 1,000 is 500th i.e. ministerial pay pegged to the top 500th earner’s pay.

I don’t understand why our ministers’ performances are NOT based on the well-being of the majority 99.95% Singaporeans but the top 0.05% Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

"Pay cut of 37%”
We should compare the new ministers’ salaries with year 2009 salaries instead of year 2010 because year 2010 is exceptionally good year, our ministers received a whopping 34.5 months (16 months fixed pay + 9 months performance bonus + 8 months GDP bonus + 1.5 months annual variable bonus).

Don’t be surprised if we discover that it is an increase from year 2009 salaries!

Anonymous said...

Ms Fu after you resign try to find a job in the private sector doing a real job without daddy or govt intervention for exampleyou can work for me I need an accounts manager but sorry la I can only pay you as much as the foreign talents are asking for.

Anonymous said...

"Now, lots of Singaporeans are angry with Grace Fu. The comments have come thick, fast and furious. As of right now, her Facebook post has drawn about 1,300 comments..."
Mr Wang

My gut feeling is that the angry people are most likely the 40% who did not vote PAP last election, and which includes Mr Wang, although he is not angry.

So does it matter what Grace Fu said or not said, resign or not, or what critics say?

Anonymous said...

"Now, lots of Singaporeans are angry with Grace Fu. The comments have come thick, fast and furious. As of right now, her Facebook post has drawn about 1,300 comments..."
Mr Wang

My gut feeling is that the angry people are most likely the 40% who did not vote PAP last election, and which includes Mr Wang, although he is not angry.

So does it matter what Grace Fu said or not said, resign or not, or what critics say?

Anonymous said...

Now when I see PM on TV, I think:

There goes the richest politician on the planet!

Anonymous said...

Gilbert,

I thought it interesting that the AG urged lawyers to work pro bono at a time when the ministerial salary issue was exploding...

Will you give us your thoughts? Is his timing pure coincidence or is he sending a message to the greedy and irresponsible and reckless establishment?

Anonymous said...

How do the politicians' total pay, i.e. salary plus bonus, compare to the top 1000's median total pay? Do politicians in other countries get bonuses?

What about the perks, such as income tax paid for by employers, cars, housing, etc?

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Not only that, did you see the article in TODAY? I think it was yesterday or two days ago.

It talked about how studies have shown that high pay does not produce high performance; how it is important to hire people who are intrinsically interested in the job and not just the money; and how using high pay as a carrot can induce individuals to adopt undesirable behavior which isn't good in the long run.

The article was NOT about the ministers. It was actually about CEOs pay. It also pointed out that CEOs' pay had been rising very fast, at a time when corporate earnings were poorer than ever before.

My guess is that the fact that TODAY chose this particular time to publish this article was not a coincidence. The article is intended to provoke readers to thinking more clearly and intelligently about ministerial salaries in Singapore. The parallels are obvious.

The article was also strategically placed quite close to another article about Grace Fu herself .... Such that if you had just finished reading about Grace Fu, almost the very next thing you'd read is this article about CEOs pay.

Anonymous said...

Dear RalliartSG,

I don't know why after reading your postings, I thought I was reading the State's Times.

The PAP tells the world that they are the best and hence they pay themselves the best salary in the world. Therefore is it any wonder that Singaporeans would expect nothing but the best from them? When they screw up things is it not logical to expect Singaporeans to ask them for accountability?

Throughout history, we know that no dynasty lasts forever no matter how strong it was - Roman empire? Tang dynasty? More often than not, the downfall of every dynasty are due to weak leadership, agreed, corruption.

Every dynasty falls. The question is when. There will be periods of instability, chaos and it will be painful for the people when a dynasty starts falling. That is to be expected. However, what the people can do and should do to minimise the painful transition period is to start having an alternative system on standby way before it happens.

Regards,
Julius Caesar

Anonymous said...

Why don't they declare their wealth if they have nothing to hide?

How many properties they own?

Our diplomats are also rich beyond imagination. Their kids go to the most exclusive schools; they brag about their diplomatic passports (no need to queue at immigration like the rest of us when we travel), they import the finest goodies from abroad and brag about it. No. Class.

And then Singaporeans being the meek followers that we are try to copy their lifestyles. My property agent used to live in landed home, drives a merc until the downturn forced him to move to HDB flat. And he downgraded his car but still drives in style. Whereas I have all the degrees in the world and still struggling to pay mortgage.

This is not about envy or material goods. It is whether our society has lost our bearings.

Anonymous said...

PM Lee should be a banker, not politician.

Anonymous said...

Well said Mr Wang. Couldn't agree with you more!!!

Anonymous said...

"PM Lee should be a banker, not politician."

From time to time, Sissy Lee has proven himself as a genius comedian more than any other job. How can someone who is born a comedian and natural affinity for comedy endup as PM ? Your guess is as good as mine.

His father is even better as comedian. His remark on To Adjunied residents to repent has to be best joke line that Chris Rock can learn from.

Chris Rock may even want to read the Old Fart's biography to get inspiration for his jokes.

Anonymous said...

Have we forgotten about working for a living? Some Singaporeans play the markets, flip property, gamble, earn money from property rentals. Tai tais who sit at home playing with Ipad, drinking tea, barking orders to maids, blogging about the most frivolous things like their shopping extravaganzas, travels, and other such inanities while most people are struggling to simply get by. They mahjong, go for high tea, you get the picture. Is this the Singapore we want? Oh, lets not forget neighbours fighting over the pettiest things. Homes are no longer homes. It is about en bloc or not. When to sell, rent, buy. And oh, which mall to hang out. WHAT TO EAT EAT EAT. That's all Singaporeans seem to do.

For once, we are politically awakened. And we should never again let these self-interested leaders take us for a ride again. Ever. Mr Wang, you can start by being a good neighbour. Plan a CNY open house. Bring people together at a time when our social fabric is being so tested by the winds of change.

Anonymous said...

Oh and tai tais and their pampered pooches while fellow Singaporeans in the suburbs are borrowing money to pay for exorbitant taxi fares, just to take their elderly to the hospital. Yes, I'm outraged.

Thanks for the vent, Mr Wang.

Anonymous said...

Grace Fu was the CEO for PSA International before entering politics. She was an auditor for a bank, correct me if I am wrong, it's OUB.

If she is really unhappy with her Ministerial post, she can resign as Mr. Wang says.

If she goes back to PSA, she may not earn as much as she is getting as a Minister even though her pay is cut

Anonymous said...

Interesting! Actually, the amount of money Singaporean women spend on pooches, spas and haircuts can fund an old age home and the like. But as Mr Wang says, we are product of the system. What kind of a country is this? But this is not about us. It is up to the ministers to volunteer cuts, show transparency and accountability.

Anonymous said...

If Grace Fu thinks she deserve or worth more if she were in be in private sector then go ahead. The door is always open for her unless otherwise.

Like that botch up transportation CEO, at least she still gets my 2 cents respect for taking responsibility.

Anonymous said...

There is a post running around facebook that Grace Fu is the daughter of James Fu, formerly the press secretary of Lee Kuan Yew. Can anyone verify this?

The said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Is this top dollar for top talent?

Khaw Boon Wan - bragged about $8 bypass; insulted Bhutan

Vivian - is he eating three meals at five star hotels, gourmet restaurants abroad and perhaps have his own personal michelin star chef?

Chan Chun Sing - generally off-key

Shanmugam - where to even begin?

Tuck Yew - as above

MPs so many burnt already: TPL - dont know what to say

S H T - rest my case

Irene Ng - created her own FB storm

Sim Ann - another blur elitist

Janil - no NS

honestly ???!!!

Anonymous said...

funny, grace fu is SENIOR minister for COMMUNICATIONS - epic fail

Lim sway sway - offended sporeans with cpf comments

eng hen - not v stellar during campaign

how many of so-called top talents ran on their own merits and not on GRC coat-tails?

as for rest of cabinet - how many of us can remember who they are ???

theonion said...

Mr Wang Says so

Sir et al, well considering that the banking industry is skewing the GINI coefficeint, should we than as good socialists than ensure that finance indsutry executives should be remunerated be in line with the median income of Singaporeans and should be legislated.

Since, politicians can be, why not finance industry which utilises public monies held in trust.
further, maybe a further TOBIN tax should be initiated.

Further, since, the ideas is so great all executives should only be remunerated as certain multiples of median income.

Anyone thinks that this is a good idea

Anonymous said...

Grace Fu got her position today because of her father James Fu.

James Fu was the press secretary for LKY.

Anonymous said...

Khaw Boon Wan is better known for portfolio fiascos before he insulted Bhutan. Hospital bed crunch?

Lim Sway Sway engrish no speak good. His Chinese is probably no better. What talent?

Better check if TCH and Ng Eng Hen's children get preferential NS treatment.

Lawrence (whats his name?) Lawrence something looks fresh from pubescent RI

The said...

/// I agree with one of your readers. Have a REFERENDUM. This issue should not be allowed to die.
January 7, 2012 11:52 PM ///

A referendum would be a complete waste of time and money if the PAP sets the term of reference. This was what happened in the referendum for merger with Malaysia in 1963. The 3 choices for the merger were:
a) Merge with Malaya under set of conditions 1, 2, 3 etc.
b) Merge with Malaya under set of conditions 4, 5, 6 etc.
c) Merge with Malaya under set of conditions 7, 8, 9 etc.

There was simply no options for not merging.

Likewise, if there were to be a referendum on ministerial salary, the options might be:
a) Benchmark to top 48 earners in Singapore
b) Benchmark to top 1000 earners in Singapore
c) Bonuses of up to 26 months on top of the 13 months.
d) Bonuses of up to 18 months on top of the 13 months.
e) Bonuses of up to 12 months on top of the 13 months.

The outcome of any committee review or referendum will be constrained by the terms of reference. As it is, we already see it in the work of Gerard Ee's committee. They were told in no uncertain terms to:
a) link it to the private sector
b) link it to the top earners
c) apply a discount.

By linking it to the top earners, they would look good with the discount. It is just like a department store jacking up an item which cost $10 to $100, then offering you a 40% discount - wow - cheaper, faster and betterer.

The same $1million salary can be achieved by benchmarking it to the 10th percentile of wage earners. For example, if the bottom 10% only earns $10000 per year, then the minister is benchmarked at 100 times of the 10th percentile salary. This option has the advantage of leveling up society (a term the PAP has stopped using). The current and proposed method, on the other hand, has the disadvantage of widening the income gap further.

Anonymous said...

@ A referendum complete waste of time

Point well taken.

See? We have many talents. Only our government thinks lowly of us.

Anonymous said...

Why this obsession with top earners?

It began when LKY couldn't retain E W Barker who had trouble paying for his mortgage on a politician's salary when he had already bought his home on a lawyer's salary (my chronology might not be accurate but I think that was the genesis).

And then things got out of control.

Top earners don't have political power which is more impactful than money if one is able to transform society like LKY did. Why is that not enough for them?

As Chiam once pointed out, once you distort system, you always want more. Be better (in every measurement) than everybody else or so they thought. The LKY perfection mindset. Chiam rightly pointed out that Teh Cheang Wan still took bribes despite money and power he had.

Anonymous said...

LKY's perfection mindset goes something like this:

If I'm going to be a kept man doing dirty political work, like cleaning up the filthy Singapore river, and my wife, my brother, my lawyer friends, my doctor friends, the entire Chinese clan are earning more money than me and laughing behind my back, then I'm going to be the best kept-man around. I'll show them! Who. Is. Boss.

Don't think he likes being number 2.

Anonymous said...

And so it is with the pay cuts.

Singaporeans are now paying the price for Mr Lee's kiasuism and small-mindedness back then.

Well done, Mr Lee!

Anonymous said...

It is still not clear to me what is what.

There's a lot of smokescreen and obfuscation going on.

Singaporeans have a right to know the following:

How much does the lowest grade minister earn per month?

And highest grade - presumably PM.

What bonuses do they get? Please explain.

What is the quantum of each bonus and when is this paid out?

In sum, lowest grade minister's pay + bonuses equal to how much per month?

Of this X sum, how much do they have to donate to party?

Do they fork out their money for other state things?

Or do they get reimbursed if they pay out of their own pockets for whatever.

What other perks and allowances do they get? Travel? Transport? Housing?

Spell it out for us.

PM Lee loves his power-point presentations at rally speeches.

This is one power-point presentation crying out to be seen.

Let's see if he can tell Singaporeans about his own pay with a straight face and look us in the eye.

Of course breakdown GLCs as comparison or private sector or other countries.

And tell us why our pay structure is so unique? If this cabinet is all he can attract.

We are not dumb.

Anonymous said...

On surface, the figure (37% cut) appears to be quite substantial.

But on second thought, year of 2010 is exceptional. Our ministers received a whopping of 34.5 months pay (16 months fixed pay + 9 months performance bonus + 8 months GDP bonus + 1.5 months annual variable bonus).

So it is more appropriate to compare the new ministers’ pay with year 2009 or 2008.
Don’t be surprised if the new salaries are an increase from year 2009 salaries!

e.g. if ministers received only 20(the same as 2011)months pay for year 2009, then the new ministers’ pay will be an increase of 23.8% from 2009!

Here the mathematics:
for ministers with grade MR2:
2010 salary: $2,145,700 (34.5 months pay)
2009 salary: $1,243,884 (2,145,700 ÷ 34.5 x 20)
2011 salary: $1,540,000
1,540,000 ÷ 1,243,884 = 123.8%

Anonymous said...

Who is this Calvin Cheng writing in ST today and spouting more elitist nonsense?

Nobody elected him. Worse, if we keep insulting other countries like China's leader who earns 11k, wow, this country has a future!

If ministers are whining about downgrading cars and houses, well, they should not have lived such lavish lifestyles in the first place as CIVIL SERVANTS living off income from hardworking and overworked Singaporeans, and hiding information from us

Eaststopper said...

Talking to my colleagues from France, U.S., Lebanon, China, Vietnam, they agreed that our ministerial pay is indeed high. But, they added, they would willingly support all of that if they can just get the Singapore cabinet to run their country. I just find that amusing - we seem to be taking quite a few things for granted.
@ Mr Wang, regarding public transport breakdowns, yes, I understand the pain. But I think my years in taking the london tube, braving the downtown Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur traffic jams have trained my tolerance levels. Singapore is still a breeze.
Relax Mr Wang. You live longer.

Anonymous said...

Talking to my friends from other countries, they do not want a cabinet that hangs people, tell people what to do with their own hard-earned savings while they pocket millions, charge COEs for a car, deny people basic freedoms...

the cabinet seems to have taken a lot for granted like the people who made singapore happen. without our collective sacrifices, singapore would not be a success. lets not forget that.

thailand, jakarta are huge. singapore's town planning is nothing like the complexities in these other countries.

many sporeans would like to live longer which is why we're creating a ruckus. at this rate of overwork, stress, the big crush wherever we go in the island, it is entirely fair to get this A team as they claim they are to give us some basic answers

Anonymous said...

"There is a post running around facebook that Grace Fu is the daughter of James Fu, formerly the press secretary of Lee Kuan Yew. Can anyone verify this? "

What not ask her in Grace Fu's facebook ? I'm sure many people will want to know that directly from the horse's mouth. Hopefully she don't make a blunder answering you that.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of reading letters in the forum page by foreigners from here and there telling us we should be lucky and proud of our government.

I have lived here and there and I say: our government is lucky to have us. We have tolerated them all this time out of respect for the old man who lifted our forbears from poverty. Other countries have to deal with real elections, not rigged ones with shifting boundaries and an election department that comes under PMO. Overseas voters in neighbouring countries are disenfranchised. For the longest time, so many of us were denied our basic suffrage rights until 2011. The GRC and NMP schemes are fraud at best. Our minorities are increasingly being left behind as the elites count their dollars and Chanel handbags.

I could go on. Whatever we have in Singapore has to be placed in this context. I mean we didn't even agree to a lot of the policies implemented like the casinos which the PM shoved down our throats. Not to mention the immigration policy. Teo Chee Hean revealed in parliament that we lost many good Singaporeans who gave up citizenship. We must ask WHY. There are some Singaporeans we can never keep because they might have married foreigners but each citizen lost is a big blow to our society. Something this government is too flippant about. Oh, 1,000 citizens left. To them, people are just statistics. That's Hsien Loong's mathematician mindset. If we had made every effort to value each citizen, tolerated dissent, I'm sure our immigration policy would not be the big mess it is today.

Anonymous said...

'I mean we didn't even agree to a lot of the policies implemented like the casinos which the PM shoved down our throats.'

First, please refrain from using the word 'we'. Your opinion is yours only. It doesn't reflect what each and every Singaporean thinks.

Second, PAP's election tactics are not illegal. But the polls aren't rigged, are they? If Singaporeans don't like the dirty tricks, they can always vote the PAP out. Obviously, there aren't enough Singaporeans who feel that way, for the time being.

PAP doesn't play fair. It has the winner's advantage, and it plays to win. Do you expect any politician to do otherwise?

Anonymous said...

Singapore work visa applications from foreigners increased between 2010 and 2011

Singapore company registration specialist, Rikvin, which also provides work visa and immigration services for foreign professionals, has observed a 25.7% increase in the number of Singapore work visa applications between 2010 and 2011, in spite of higher Ministry of Manpower (MOM) requirements effected in July 2011.

Although higher Singapore Employment Pass (EP) requirements have been in effect since 1 July 2011, Rikvin saw the number of Singapore EP applications between Jul to Dec 2010 and the corresponding period in 2011 increase by 22.5%.

Inclusive of renewals, the EP application numbers actually increased by 25.7% year-on-year (y-o-y) between 2010 and 2011. Over the same period, the number of fresh EP applications alone increased by 13.7%. On the other hand, the number of EP applications increased by only 5.2% between the first half year of 2010 and the corresponding period in 2011.

Commenting on the uptrend, Mr Satish Bakhda, Rikvin’s Head of Operations said, “It seems counter-intuitive to see an increase in the number of Singapore EP applications after the higher requirements have come into effect. However, the higher educational, experiential and salary bars have not deterred highly-qualified professionals, especially those from ailing European and US economies, from going after a chance to work or set up a company in Singapore.”

.....remaining part of the news is found in this link......

http://www.tremeritus.com/2012/01/14/singapore-work-visa-applications-from-foreigners-increased-between-2010-and-2011/

Anonymous said...

Talking to my friends from other countries, they all disbelieve that our ministers may receive up to 39.5 months pay under the old pay formula (16 months fixed pay + 14 months performance bonus + 8 months GDP bonus + 1.5 months annual variable bonus).
They all got a shock when were told that our minsters received about 34.5 months pay in 2010.

Anonymous said...

I think our PM should also consider resignation, after hearing his parliamentary speech this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Grace Fu is a minister without grace and is very ungracious to the city which wrongly and illegally pay her and her fellow ministers so much for doing so little that is worthy to Singapore. She has openly shown her disssatisfaction from her heart and if we are not mistaken she is symbolic of most of the ministers and PAP MPs in mind and spirit in their real colours to serve the country for the sake of money and not for anything else. In the meantime her colleague Tony Tan who ran aground GIC and caused Singapore to lose more than 42 billion dollars can still be a President collecting millions of dollars in obscene salary for the next six years.

Paying themselves obscene high salaries is bad enough but what is worse is that they burden the people with all sorts of unreasonable tax via high PUB charges, high transport fees in SBS and SMRT, high medical cost, high property tax, high cost of COEs and ERPs and a myriad of other hidden charges as in GST.

To top their sin they have ignored the welfare of the people causing untold suffering to hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans who are suffering in silence. Every year thousands of Singaporeans have died unnecessarily from cancer, heart disease, kidney trouble and diabetes because they cannot afford the high cost of medical treatment. For many who survive the diseases they are greatly impoverished as they have to sell their house to repay huge loans from friends and relatives and from loan sharks.

If the PAP government has any conscience it should sincerely lighten the people's burden and suffering by reducing taxes, abolish GST for medical and hospital charges, reduce medical
cost and help the poor and middle class in other ways.

PAP ministers and MPs should wake up and stop being self serving and hypocrital in claiming that they want to serve the people when it is actually the Money God they are serving and that's the reason their obscene high salary is never high enough. They must sincerely change or the people will change them in 2016.

Southernglory1

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

our dear PM has defended greedy Grace. Unsurprising conceit from the 2.2 million dollar man.

Chen Show Mao received a scolding from him for showing interest in public service only when he reached 50. How cavalier. Catherine Lim is right. The PAP is incapable of reinventing himself. And the Lees do not know how not to talk down to people.

Here's my rejoinder to lousy Loong: at least Chen has the humility to know he needs to gain experience before parachuting into office on daddy's coat-tails and robbing Singaporeans of their monies in broad daylight.

When is the CPIB going to investigate them all?

theonion said...

Following up to my post.

since, financial industry wages are skewing the GINI coeffience, lets levy or propose national wage scales for senior executives and above or special taxes ala UK.

Further, lets have a rule that all politicians must be self-made millionaires first which means that practically only 50 to 60 something poliitical wannabes would be available.

objective said...

Gilbert

I was amused when I saw what Grace Fu posted. But not completely surprised. After all, she is a product of the system. They are chosen based on good book smarts and OBEDIENCE (i.e. willingness to tow the line irrespective of whether they agree or not, that is, no strong personal convictions or backbone). Since they don't fight their own elections (they come in via GRCs), then they are not answerable to the people. They are only answerable to their BOSS. So, say yes, tell boss nice things and have a good life. Sounds about right?

But what really surprised me was how PM came out to defend her so strongly in parliament a few days ago. PM is not tone deaf. He can't be. He needs to win elections. Why would he spend so much political capital to defend Grace Fu, when she obviously made a mistake? He loses a lot of credibliity in the process. Yes, he has a lot of credibility but as a long time politician, he should know that credibility can disappear quickly in the court of public opinion. I'm still baffled - any guesses?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Gilbert. You can't deny it, socio-political blogging is your calling.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those Singaporeans who have left...I left because I can no longer tolerate the immense CORRUPTION that permeates the society, trickled down from the very top. I could have contributed in my area of expertise, I participated and won competitions, even in one held by the Singaporean government. However, only "connected" Singaporeans land the plum projects even though I would have asked for much less and worked more because I was born in Singapore and I care for my fellow Singaporeans. There is a saying, 上梁不正下梁歪. This crookedness, nepotism, legitimized corruption, permeate society insidiously at many levels. Of course those at the very top will not repent or reform the system - they set it up themselves and are its beneficiaries.

Anonymous said...

If our national median income is $48,000 per year, then to an ordinary Singaporean,

$96,000 (2 x 48,000) is good pay
$144,000 (3 x ) is very good pay
$240,000 (5 x ) is high pay
$480,000 (10 x ) is very high
$720,000 (15 x ) is sky high
$960,000 (20 x ) is extremely high
$1.2 million (25 x ) is exorbitant
$1.44 million (30 x ) is outrageous
$1.68 million (35 x ) is #%&$@!

If we wish to pay our ministers between sky high to exorbitant pay, then our ministers’ pay should be about 15 to 25 times the median income (those who demand more than 25 times are not suitable to be a minister). This would be about $720,000 to $1.2 million annually.

The new ministers’ pay of $1.1 million to $1.76 million (grade MR4 to MR1) is about 23 to 37 times the national median income. They are overpaid by more than 50% if we compare the entry pay of $720,000 and $1.1million (1,100,000/720,000 = 152.8%).

Anonymous said...

//Eaststopper said...Talking to my colleagues from France, U.S., Lebanon, China, Vietnam, they agreed that our ministerial pay is indeed high. But, they added, they would willingly support all of that if they can just get the Singapore cabinet to run their country.//

Even assuming that our ministers can run their country, I doubt the people there collectively will allow them such high pay.

Maybe your friends in France, U.S., Lebanon, China, Vietnam can shortcut their willing support & turn it into reality by migrating here and convert to citizen if they have not already done so.

Xianlong said...

Is good that she wrote it. How else would the peasants know the truth if is not out of the horse's mouth?

George Washington led the continental army for no pay. Why volunteer for such a role when he have everything to lose when he's already well-off? Likewise he resigned after 2 terms in office as president instead of clinging on to power. People with George Washington's noble qualities exist among s'poreans. Such person/s will not serve/join the pap enticing high pay to attract them.

In 3 kingdoms period, talented people like Zhuge Liang, Pang Tong, Zhao Yun, Huang Zhong did not join Liu Bei because of riches since Liu Bei was struggling & almost wiped out at 1 point. If $$ is enough to entice then those talents would have joined other warlords with $$ & land already.

Anonymous said...

After taking a 40% cut off the top 1,000 Singaporean earners, we arrived at a 36% cut off the original pay.

Sigh.

Also, are these top 1,000 inherited rich or work themselves rich?

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of another time another princess said when told the masses were starving because they didn't have bread. She said, "No bread? Eat cake then."

Anonymous said...

The blog is going to the dogs. No more updates.