Friday, January 6, 2012


Figures in S$. (Source: Straits Times)
Figures in USD
Based on their salaries alone, Singapore's top civil servants are millionaires. The ministers are among the highest paid in the world. Even with the 36% cut, Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong's paycheck is four times more than that of US President Obama.

The pay review was announced last May shortly after the General Elections that saw the governing PAP party retaining power but with the lowest majority since independence in 1965.

An 8-member committee was appointed to review ministerial salaries. After seven months of deliberation, committee chairman Gerald Ee revealed the recommendations at a press conference. According to the Straits Times report, and I quote here, "The committee kept three principles in mind in determining political salaries: competitive salaries to attract people of good calibre; the ethos of public service which entails sacrifice; and a clean wage with no hidden perks."

It recommended that political salaries still be pegged to top private-sector pay, but that there be a new benchmark based on a larger pool of top earners who are Singapore citizens.

Source: Straits Times
The new salary scale will be backdated from 21 May 2011 when the new government took office. There is no official comment yet from former PM Goh Chock Tong who had called for a ministerial pay rise in 1993.

These are massive pay cuts. Would it mean a drastic drop in the lifestyle of Singapore's ministers? But aren't civil servants supposed to live frugally as a good example to the people they serve? Shouldn't they be in politics in the first place because of a desire to serve the country, and not because of high salaries and perks?

It would be interesting to see whether the new salary scale would see a smaller pool of talented leaders who are prepared to make personal and financial sacrifices for the good of the nation.

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