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.