Apr 7, 2007

CNN on Ministers' Salaries

"I can't believe it. I am looking after 301 million citizens,
you are earning 3 times more than me,

CNN article below is posted for my future reference:

Singapore ministers set for million-dollar pay hike

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- The salary of the prime minister of Singapore is more than three times that of U.S. President George W. Bush and about four times that of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But that is not enough.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong may soon be getting a hefty pay rise as part of a controversial ministerial salary hike that has infuriated many Singaporeans.

Lee, who is estimated to earn about S$2 million (US$1.32 million) per year, said last month that the salaries of Singapore ministers, top public officials and judges have fallen way below benchmark private sector salaries and may need to be doubled.

"It is critical for us to keep these salaries competitive, so as to be able to bring in a continuing flow of able and successful people," Lee said in a speech in March.

Lee said that Singapore ministers, who currently earn about S$1.2 million (US$800,00) a year, should be earning S$2.2 million (US$1.45 million).

Details of the new ministerial salaries will be announced in parliament on April 9.

Since 1994, the salaries of Singapore ministers have been set at two-thirds the median pay of the 48 best-paid bankers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and executives in multi-nationals and manufacturing firms.

But the latest salary hike, which comes at a time when income disparity in Singapore is wider than ever, has sparked an outpour of unusually blunt criticism from Singaporeans.

Hundreds have signed an online petition and the readers' letter columns of the state-controlled newspapers -- one of the few outlets for dissenting views in the city-state -- have published a series of letters protesting the planned hike.

"Government always wins"

Some Singaporeans argue that the six lucrative professions on which ministers' salaries are based do not reflect the country's economy or the government's performance.

"No matter what happens to the economy, the government always wins because it takes only the best results," Jacob Tan said in a letter to the Straits Times.

And given that a 2 percentage point rise in sales tax from July will further hit the poor, some said the government plan is tactless.

"I am rather disappointed with the government's insensitivity," reader Vanessa Teo said.

But the sharpest criticism was online. The "awesome raise on top of their already obscene pay is completely unjustifiable," read an online petition that has gathered 304 signatures.

Given the rare public outcry, analysts said the government may now hesitate to raise salaries by the full S$1 million.

"I would be surprised if they implemented the full formula that would give them over S$2 million," said Garry Rodan, director of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University.

The government defends the high salaries as necessary to attract the brightest people and to prevent corruption.

"If we don't do that ... corruption will set in and we will become like many other countries," Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean was quoted as saying in the Straits Times last week.

Singapore government officials' salaries are set by different wage formulas, depending on their seniority. The figures are not readily available to the public, but the prime minister earned S$1.94 million in 2000, according to the Straits Times.

Ministers' wages were last raised in 2000, but were cut in 2001 and 2003 during the economic downturn, although the cuts have since been reversed, the Public Service Division said.

"Able generals"

Some argue that Singapore ministers are not overpaid, but that ministers elsewhere are underpaid.

Singapore is an oasis of wealth, peace and law and order in a region rife with poverty, violence and corruption.
The island state is Asia's second-richest country after Japan, with a gross domestic product per capita of about $31,000.

The World Economic Forum ranks Singapore as the fifth-most competitive of 125 economies in 2006, while Transparency International said the city-state was the fifth-most corruption-free nation out of 163. Isn't that worth a price?

"According to a Chinese proverb, an able general is worth more than 10,000 foot soldiers. So too is the worth of our leaders if they have the wisdom to help us weather global competition," reader Yik Keng Yeong said.

But critics say that the prosperity and security enjoyed by Singaporeans are not that different from other Asian first-world economies such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where government ministers do not command such high salaries.

Finland, for instance, beat Singapore in the WEF and Transparency International polls -- as second-most competitive and most corruption-free country -- but its Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen earns about a sixth of Lee's estimated salary.

What irks Singapore's opposition parties is that the million-dollar salaries are only accessible to members of Lee's ruling People's Action Party. Opposition politicians have been crippled by defamation lawsuits brought by government ministers and no opposition party has ever held a ministerial post.

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.


Anonymous said...

Yeah! Bring it on!

Let's hire George Bush to be our PM.

Better still, let's hire Mr Wang to be our PM. :p

Anonymous said...

Bush could give MM or PM a call to talk about the CNN Report mah> Bush is a champion of Human Rights You know!

Anonymous said...

Attn: Philip Yeo

(I can't find your blog - so, have to resort to this popular medium)

I don’t understand all the recent talk about defamation in the AcidFlask case.

1. When I check the archives, I can’t find any direct references to accusations of bribery by A-Star.

2. This seems to be an issue of “form versus substance”. When a U.S. university accept a scholar from A-Star or PSC, Singapore will pick up the tab for all the tuition fees, living expenses, and health insurance, thus, saving the U.S. professor substantial amount (otherwise, he has to use his research fund).

Financially, isn't this equivalent to the U.S. university accepting the scholar under the normal terms, and then “bribing” the U.S. professor by paying him that same amount.

Am I missing something here?

Anonymous said...

a clarification on post #3.

point #1 is wrong.. though point #2 stands.

in an application to most (if not, all) universities, scholars need to fill in a form indicating whether they need financing. The cost of this financing can easily run into the range of a few hundred thousand dollars (US$).

Hence, A-Star appears incorrect to say that "A*STAR has never offered to pay or actually paid any university ... any other form of incentive to admit our scholars."

(see Fact #1 in http://www.a-star.edu.sg/astar/attach/textlet/0f000a59c0BE/Acidflask_casez.pdf)

Anonymous said...

Click here for pictorial evidence of poverty in Singapore.

Jimmy Mun said...

I wonder if LKY ever worried that his wife or daughter will end up as a maid if he did not take part in what initially was anti-establishment opposition politics. If LKY is a young lawyer in his 30s again, how will he choose to live his life? Would he complain about the crummy pay for the bulk of his career, the risks he put himself and his family in, the loss of privacy etc. and give up on politics? Not a chance! Because politics is in his blood, and he would suffer immeasurably if he was blocked from politics.

How do you pay people who are doing their dream jobs? Not much I suppose. He was convinced he could make a difference, and that was motivation enough. What I suspect now, is that the average minister is no more than a glorified permanent secretary with little real power to make a real difference. If there is a future with Singaporean women working as maids overseas, I suspect joining PAP would not make a difference.

Anonymous said...

I am a Singaporean woman. I ever seriously considered working overseas as live-in maid. In exchange for a few years of slogging, one gets the host country's PR/citizenship and its social support. Compare slogging a few years as a live-in maid with the fate of our old folks who continues to slog in the twilight years, even after contributing their prime to the nation's growth... the choice is clear.

This is not too far-off from the logic of the Singaporean PR's who come here to slog some years to buy their dream life back in their homeland, except that in our case home shall be our host country.

Sorry, I'm not the only Singaporean woman who think of this. Another already volunteered to be my live-in maid if I land overseas first.

Anonymous said...

Whatever they do, they always want the best for THEMSELVES!!!

Anonymous said...

The old man is good, he had once again deflected attention from his son. He had said things that will bring hatred towards him more. I said more because there is still hatred towards the son, but lesser.

The father loves the son, and the son is, well, just living in the shadow.

le radical galoisien said...

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

And thus, Lee shows his spiteful nature towards the country.

You know Solomon who wanted to cut up the baby? Lee has shown himself to be the fake parent.

Anonymous said...

The excuse of paying the ministers high salary is to deter them from corruptions. Anyone buy that kind of story? Imagine if our prisoners in Changi were paid a high salaried jobs, I guess we dont even need prisons in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

buy silence n support

Calvin aka Yamada Shun 山田駿 said...

That Old Wise is a bitch.

Anonymous said...

Asia Times Online

"The shocker was momentarily revealed in June 2004 - though the mainstream media did not highlight it then nor have they since. That was when an opposition MP asked then deputy prime minister Lee Hsien Loong whether it was true that a "serving minister who turns 55 actually receive[s] both salary and pension at the same time". Lee, in answer, said yes. There are currently eight cabinet ministers aged 55 and above, including Lee himself."

Anonymous said...

What? Receiving pension when they are still holding cabinet positions? I thought pension is only for the retired.

It is like receiving unemployment benefits when you are actually working in Australia. They actually charge you in court for fraud here.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a sad episode to our history< for some extra handsome monetary rewards (much more than they ever need for an opulent living) our ministers are swore< cursed and chided liked vermins> Wonder what are their worths!

Anonymous said...

should you like to spoil your sunday, trying reading the article on zaobao today (p13,8 april) where pap bootlicker lin yi ming tries to justify the the case for ministerial salary hike. this is the state of chinese journalism for you in singapore. pathetic and in bad taste.
ps: listen up singapore media, keep the masses INFORMED and stop sucking up just to protect your ricebowl. watch the film'good night and good luck' if you are truly confused.

Anonymous said...

The argument that people won't join govt unless the pay is good when applied AFTER the people have joined govt knowing that the pay wasn't going to be good, doesn't make sense.

The argument can only be used to justify a pay raise for the NEXT cabinet.

As for Monday, any attempt at asking for one's own pay not to be raised can only come across as being disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

hey singapore media, why havent you guys:

1. report on ministers receiving pensions and collecting salary at the same time. there is so much talk in blogsphere the past week!

2. give a rundown on the names of ministers sitting on various boards as consultant/advisers, instead of constantly telling us how much individuals in the private sectors earn. btw are they also being paid?

3. tell us about the businesses that family members of the ministers own/co-own? singaporeans would dead curious.

4. calculate the monetary worth of power gained especially to those pathethic few who had suffered pay cut since entering politics. they likely a nobody to the masses prior to that.

5.last but not least, tell us how much these politicians/civil servants earn before joining public service.

nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Also please ask our Ministers how leaders like Mr Nelson Mandela and Mr Gusmao of Timor Leste are to be benchmarked for remunerations> They risked their lives to liberate their people and are revered internationally

Anonymous said...

really, let's take a step back and look at the whole situation. Are our ministers really that 'hot' in market. Will GS, MS etc pay million dollar salaries to poach them? I..don't..think so. The ones that are really valuable are those admin officers that just completed their bonds and maybe a few years short. For those who served more than 20 years in the Government, other their Singapore GLCs, I would argue that their skills are really that transferable. Hands up, who wants to hire Wang Kang Sang, Mah Bow Tan?

Anonymous said...

'Not really that ...'. sorry to add the important word, NOT.

Anonymous said...

送早報林明德 & sumiko tan

薩依德 (edward said) 對知識分子的定義:
對權力說真話 不受權勢擁有者支配 收編

Anonymous said...


How can the gahmen compare private sector with public service ministerial pay.

A private sector lawyer making $10M a year would still not be able to enjoy the special privilege of having a "private" company's Boeing jet converted into a flying ICU in a matter of hours complete with a team of the best surgeons and medical personnel of the land on standby, to attend to his WIFE's (!) medical condition half-a-globe away.

Anonymous said...

my earlier post is to lianhe zaobao's 林義明 not 林明德.

Anonymous said...

So it has now been revealed that the method of calculating the Ministers' salaries based on benchmarking the top salary earners in the selected fields was flawed in the first place!!! Doesn't this mean the Gahmen has hookwinked the Singaporeans and therefore should apologise for their mistake?

Instead of requesting a pay increase now based on the same absurd formula, shouldn't the Gahmen first review & revamp on the ambiguous formula to make it more convincing & acceptable to the taxpayers?

Anonymous said...

Interesting debate that questions the logic of "You pay peanuts you get monkeys."


Also a wake-up call of those obssessed with using logic to make "rational" decisions.

Anonymous said...

The best is they now want to impose means testing for class C wards when they promise not to do it b4 May 2008 during.

They are blatantly breaking their election promises!


Anonymous said...

"impose means testing for class C wards when they promise not to do it b4 May 2008" proves that Khaw is getting just as corrupted as the rest of the gang since he doesn't want to lose out on the $1 million pay increase.

Anonymous said...

My brother is darn upset with MM's farts!

MM is implying that all singaporean man can't keeep their wives and daughters in good shape ..

For MM's information, even before him, my mother and grandmother need not work as maids overseas. They may work as maids locally but there's no difference to those aged tissue sellers at hawker centres right now.

What has PAP done?

I am not singaporean anymore but feels equally insulted. The only government in the world to insult its citizens day in day out. And singaporeans a bunch of cowards to take all this swallowing every day.

Anonymous said...

The Ministers are a confused lot. First they warn employers AGAINST hefty pay hikes for us. They also warned that we should be "cautious" about the economic upswing, hence delayed the CPF restroation. Now they say there is no good or bad time for Minister pay hike.

Sounds like a forked tongue at work. I am so happy to have such capable Ministers dealing with labour relations.

J D TOH said...

Reuters decision to include that last sentence really made me laugh. Will we see a book on MMism soon?

Anonymous said...

I want to know when MM, SM, PM travel on official trips, and their wives tag along, who paid for their wives' airfare, accommodation, etc etc?

Anonymous said...

I think the old man's words put the final nail in the coffin (for ministerial pay hike) more than anything else. He should just retire.

Anonymous said...

The journalist is obviously having fun when he wrote that the MM "will have none of it".

Imagine the self-proclaimed "father" wagging his finger saying, "Now you little monkeys, I'll have none of it! You'd better stop talking back or you won't be having anymore peanuts, you hear?!"

The Human Battery said...

To the few of you here who talked abt LianHe ZaoBao's supposed "state of chinese journalism", I want to point out that while Lin Yi Ming (a senior editor of the newspaper) is a real bootlicker, zaobao on the whole is much more investigative and probing than Straits Times and can easily put the latter to shame everyday.

For example, initially Straits Times has grossly distorted the organ robbery case. It was zaobao which first blew the cover that lead to the eventual mass opting out. And this has happened numerous times in the past - zaobao reporting much more truth than straits times. But yah, once a week, that bootlicker Lim will come out to do some "damage control".

yh said...

mr wang,

now may be a good time to bring out your post on how the maids in singapore are actually doing better than many singaporeans...

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Thank you for reminding me. I will repost that article tonight - the one that shows that in real terms, the average foreign maid in S'pore earns more than many poor Singaporeans.

(In brief, this is because the maid's food, accommodation, utilities and medical expenses are fully borne by her employer; and the maid incurs little or no transport expenses).

Anonymous said...

Will the maids overseas get spiffy French maid costumes?

Anonymous said...

Just saw the latest newsflash. Ministars pay will be increased to $1.6m by end of Yr2007 and will be further raised to $1.94m by end of 2008.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

to anon 4.30pm, this is so expected. once the old man farts, the stink will come to pass.

the only thing they can do to "appease" the masses will be to schedule the raise. that way, they can claim they are a gabramen that listens to their pple...

lol... i wonder how the 66.6% sleep tonight

Anonymous said...

"i wonder how the 66.6% sleep tonight"

Haven't they been sleeping all this while? Hopefully, they will wake up in time before our coffers are emptied against our will.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it folks, Lee Senior is right about the hike. You need the money to attract the best brains these days.

But my gripe is this.

Is the post of PM (Prime Minister), with a per annum salary of 3.1 million, openly accessible to everyday folks? Or is it another case of nepotism where after the father steps down, the son takes over?

Okay, in between you get a few "elected" jokers to fill in the space just so it doesn't look that obvious. I'm sorry. You can explain all you like but this is really a case of George Bush and Bush Junior and look at all the "good "it did.

Heh, guess that's politics for you.

Anonymous said...

I'm a degree holder but if only I had been a member of the LEE family or the PAP elite, I think most probably I would not be currently unemployed. And maybe I would be given one of those GLC jobs where regular pay increases are almost a guarantee, similar to what the Ministers are getting, although on a much smaller scale. But at least they come with iron rice bowls.

IMHO, the Gahmen should be not be entitled to any pay increases unless they have solve the unemployment problem faces by those retrenched or jobless citizens.

Anonymous said...

the chinese press (zaobao) has not even published any articles from the people on ministerial rise. shameless.

Anonymous said...

George Bush earn US$400k.

That is probably also lower than the top 5% of Singaporean.

So it's not that our Ministers are highly paid. It's George Bush that is lowly paid.

Also, While Bush earns peanuts. He make up the difference by controlling Oil in the middle East so that his texas oil business can benefit.

He send his army to war so that he can benefit from it.

Anonymous said...

Anon April 10, 2007 12:17 AM:

I suggest you not irriate Mr Wang with stupid comments like that. PAP ministers are already the most highly-paid ministers in the WORLD. So even if you do not like the George Bush example, Mr Wang can hit you with examples from ... practically ... every ... other ... country .... on ... the ... PLANET.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous April 10, 2007 12:17 AM

"So it's not that our Ministers are highly paid. It's George Bush that is lowly paid."

Oh yeah? Who knows better how much is a reasonable pay for their President? The Americans or you?

Which scenario is a better reflection of market demand for talents and commensurate pay? One where leaders' pay is determined by a people free to vote or one that is manipulated, controlled and forcefully fixed by an elite few who entered politics for the sake of money?

Anonymous said...

Ok, George Bush has an oil business.

PM Lee and MM Lee and Lim Hng Kiang are on the board of directors of GIC.

Want to guess how much money they collect each year, in directors' fees?

PM Lee's wife is the CEO of Temasek Holdings, which owns Singtel, SPH, SIA, Singapore Technologies, SingPower, NOL etc etc etc.

And how much do you think she earns as CEO of Temasek? Would you like to guess?

In your honest opinion, do you think she would be there, if she was not PM's wife?

Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry. Of course Temasek has nothing to do with Singapore government. Not connected at all.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous April 9, 2007 9:28 AM

"And singaporeans a bunch of cowards to take all this swallowing every day."

Please hor, it's 66.6% Singaporeans who are cowards/$$$-faced/whatever. Maybe they have a weird kind of swallowing fetish that is difficult to kick.

Anonymous said...

History is not measured in a couple of elections. Thus far, MM is the only one of the bunch who has a track record and is worthy of having his salary pegged to, among others, Wee Cho Yaw (who built up the family business) and others.

Unless this is a Lee family business, why do the newer kids on the block with no stake except their salaries and landed properties earn such outrageous sums?

If they had gone into the real world, would they have done as well as those to whom their pay packets have been pegged?

Anonymous said...

Let's outsource our government to the Finland.. theirs seems more efficient and cost-effective.

I wonder if they traumatised their citizens like ours

Anonymous said...

salary based on performance? well...

goh chok tong should step down since our bilateral relations with malaysia and indonesia has been further deterioriated.

note: goh was appointed by lee hsien loong to oversee the foreign affairs of our 2 neighours.

yaccob ibrahim should resign due to the surge in dengue cases, and our ever worsening air pollution.

george yeo should be held responsible for the ill management of our relations with thailand, indonesia and malaysia. and for the first time in recent singapore history, flags and pictures of our leaders are being burnt by foreigners.

our dear vet, dr lee boon yang...what achievement has he made in mica? this is one world class city without any breakout hit from our film, tv, theatre or literature scene.

khaw boon wan. didnt we just expose his lie about mean testing during our last election. competent, good and HONEST government?

philip yeo. simply google his name and find out for yourself in the blogsphere ok.

oh, one more minister. swore in barely 2 years ago, but has never failed to amuse us with his blunders: not bowing/paying respect to our national flag and that of the host country during an inspection parade in germany...mentioning that he would need more time to 'fix' his political opponents during a rally, and more recently told us that 'hum' can be found in mee siam too.
no wonder daddy needs to be around to baby-sit.

nuff said. feel free to create your own list guys...

Anonymous said...

It sickening to read from the ST that Papaya Sellers are self-praising that their papayas are better than those from Finland, Sweden... to justify their price increment.

Anonymous said...

Just remember to wear red and flood the town with beers, wines, dines(foods) and gaities when the day for joys arrive!!

Anonymous said...

In a monopolistic environment, one can price his wares many times above what they are realistically worth. It is crystal clear in the mind of many how this monopoly was created.

Anonymous said...

Check out the scathing attach on LHL's act of donation in the article title "Modern day Robin Hood" at http://mindbloggingstuff.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Have a say on what are the measurements of good government.

Anonymous said...

Hey, all of us got it wrong! When they did their pay increment, they didn't compare their salaries to the world leaders. They were comparing their salaries to the likes of Wayne Rooney and David Beckam... or Tiger Wood. So still peanuts if we put them in this league.