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1/30/2012

A jaw dropping act

The big salary cut for ministers and politicians is a jaw dropping act of sort. It is a very significant admission that the salary paid to politicians was way way excessive in all counts and that finally it came to the open, and no one in his right mind would dare to defend it. It is also a confirmation that it was wrong in the private thoughts of many people, maybe even among the recipients of the huge salaries, but all just buat bodoh and makes hay while the sun shines.

And now that the genie is out of the bottle, it is pointless and helpless to put it back. The ugliness of the high pay cannot face the light of moral justice, not even political correctness. It is just indefensible. It has to be dumped into the darkness and be forgotten.

The troublesome part is that, how could something that is so wrong be upheld and perpetuated for so long as something that is right? It can only happen in a country with unthinking people or absolute power.

So what is the new mantra? Greed is good, greed is normal, greed is the way to go, unstoppable. It has to be that way if we are to progress. Feed the greed and the greedy will be more motivated and will excel in what they are doing.

Actually one can be damn greedy without being productive at all. And one can spend all his energy trying to grab the money by all kinds of schemes instead of working for it.

I wrote the above before the Parliamentary debate. And I was completely wrong. There were still people staunchly believing in it and defending it with tooth and nail. We know who they are now. We also know who kept quiet throughout the debate, either they were against it or too embarrass to defend it, or wanting to enjoy it without being caught defending it.

The biggest sin in this issue is that the people who are benefitting from it are defending and justifying it. And the people who are against it have no avenue to fight it except for 6 opposition members. And if my poll is anything to go by, the majority of the people are against it.

Can the ministers walk around with heads held high, that the people approved their high salary? Did they ask the people about it. Or there is no need to ask at all? And some were very angry at those who spoke against it. They have decided how much they want to pay themselves and they will vote for it in a Parliament where they have absolute majority, with the Whip in force. They will have their way, all 81 of them, not the majority of the people who did not agree with them.

This is democracy at its peak. The rule of the majority in Parliament, by the people, of the people, and for the people. Maybe this definition of democracy needs a little tweaking.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Subject: Comments by Dr. Tan Cheng Bock

Annual Reporting of Ministerial Salaries.
When I was in parliament (1980-2006) I was under the impression that Ministers did not get any Pension because all office holders were required to switch from pension to CPF in 1998. Imagine my surprise when I read in the newspaper (5 Jan 2012,ST) that in 2008,two years after l left parliament ,the Pension component was re- introduced and this resulted in a further increase in salaries for Ministers. This Pension component, which caused a lot of anger, is now removed. I am glad that this is being done. However, such a trend of changing policies mid-stream is not good. Singaporeans want more transparency. To be transparent, an annual report of ministerial salaries must be published.

A Win Win Formula for Ministerial Pay.
While using the bench mark of the median income of the top 1000 Singapore earners is better than 48 high earners in the past -the formula has not changed, only the numbers. Every year, the median income of the top 1000 earners will be used to calculate Minister’s pay. Some of those 1000 would have fallen off the list the next year. But, because the current formula only takes in the best 1000 in the high earners cohort each year, those fallen ones in the first year will not be considered in the second year. They will be replaced by better performing ones. Thus it is a win win formula. Consider this; if we were to use the SAME 1000 cohort over the term of office of the Ministers in our calculations each year, we may have a clearer and truer reflection of the fortunes of our top earners. It will be a case of comparing apples to apples. This will be reflected in our minister’s pay.

Revised Ministerial Pay in Singapore

To Serve or Not to Serve. A consistent theme in the revised Ministerial Pay review is Pay high or loose Talent. We can buy administrative talent but political talent I am not sure. They are two different skill sets. One is working for Salary, one is working for a Cause.
One has obedience and self, the other is about passion and public service. In schools, we were taught Service before Self. This is an important ethos of character building. However this over emphasis on using money as an incentive goes against all that.
We must bring back the public spirit of serving as our First Call and not be constantly swayed that Money in Politics will attract talent. The review committee was tasked to review the former committee’s rational for the level of salaries for the President and office holders.
The fact that the committee has not deviated from using the top private sector earners as a reference tells me the formula was only tweaked. Lets follow the debate in Parliament and I will share more comments.

By Dr. Tan Cheng Bock.