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1/30/2012

Obama - A contented man

In his latest State of the Union Address, Obama Barack came across as a happy, balanced and contented man. In his Presidential speech it was all about nation and people, nothing about self. He was not there to defend his pay or asking for more pay. The only time he did mention about his pay was to say that he was very satisfied with his meagre official pay and was more than willing to pay more taxes on top of what he was paying under the current tax laws.

Some may squirm and privately mumble to themselves that Obama could be paid more under the table. But no one has any evidence to say so. Given the American liberal and open system, any such wrongdoings would not hide pass muster. It is not so easy to be corrupt or be paid under the table without being discovered as the President of the USA. This is unlike Asian systems of opagueness, non transparency and non disclosure when many things could be hidden or undisclosed and plenty can be hidden under the sun.

The closest Asian system that is as transparent as the American, and clean, must be our very own system. The slight difference is that Obama is a happy and contented politician who is happy with his lesser pay than our politicians who are still feeling quite sore of the hair cut. A contented man, some say silly man, is a wise man. Of course this is very subjective and many in paradise will be laughing themselves silly at Obama for such a big job and responsibility and afraid to fight for more pay. He could simply use our model to justify his $600k pay upwards many times.

Whether he is wise or silly is a matter of opinion, a judgement call really.

5 comments:

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.

Anonymous said...

Redbean, between Lucky of Diary of a Singaporean Mind and Fish from Feed Me to the Fish, three of you share almost similar world view of things in this little country.

You are the three pillars of the cyberspace on Singaporean affairs.

Anonymous said...

We have a perverted system where Teo Ser Luck is paid more than Obama. Just watch TSL's speech and Obama's to see the grave injustice being inflicted on the singaporeans' taxpayers!

Anonymous said...

Why shldnt he be contented? He is arguably the most powerful man on earth. Can money buy such a position?

Anonymous said...

"Teo Ser Luck is paid more than Obama."

Teo Ser Luck
Teo Sure Lucky
Teo Ser Laku

It's not the man.
It's the political party.

One belongs to a party with a conscience.
The other belongs to an unconscionable party.