I must say that we have an auspicious start for year 2012 with a more stable foundation for an agreeable year. The two political parties in Parliament have came to many common view points and policies. For a start, and the most important point to note, is that the PAP has commented and is happy that the WP has accepted the Salary Review Committee’s recommendation for ministerial salary. Though the WP had voted nay, the fact that they have agreed to the principle of a high and competitive pay for ministers, to attract top talents and the final sum of money which was very similar to the Salary Review Committee’s number is cause for celebration. The WP should play along and stop trying to say that it is the principle and methodology that are important and theirs were different.
The sum is something that PAP is comfortable with and with WP’s concurrence, there is no more fear that WP would in the future dare to cut it down further or they would have a hard time for changing their position. A warning shot has been fired (figuratively of course) that they must stick to the position and cannot change or it could be seen as hypocrisy or political opportunism. That is why PAP has never changed its policies and has been very consistent in defending all their policies. Or else they will be explaining and explaining every time there is a change of policies.
This style of not changing policies or not seen as having changed its policies is the trademark of PAP. And it may be the reasons why so many things were changed without an explanation for the PAP because there was no change in the first place.
It is implicit, without many words spoken, that both parties also agreed that the current pay was too much and needed to be cut. It is also explicit that some of the allowances were, well, needed to be thrown away as well. It is also implicit that pension is something that is not right to start with for politicians and definitely unbearable at that kind of numbers and for a life time.
It is politically unacceptable to pay ministers pension when they reached 55 years, which means taking two salaries at the same time, while the people’s CPF withdrawal date is becoming an elusive appointment date with the maker.
It is also not right to peg the minister’s salary to the top 48 income earners (something like that, I don’t have the resources to get me the exact formula), so pegging it to the top 1000 would be less elitist. Someone please do some work to see whether the final outcome of the change will lead to a different result ie the minister’s salary vis a vis the top income earners, would it still be in the same band of top income earners, plus or minus 100.
It is agreeable that pegging to the top 1000 is the same or better than pegging to MX9. The latter is bad because it is not the median or income of average Singaporeans. I think it is reported in the media that this is the income level of the 94 percentile of income earners. Wonder, just wondering, what percentile will be the median of the top 1000, or what percentile will be the minister’s salary if it has not been cut at all.
The PAP is happy, the WP is also happy, that the salary of ministers will henceforth be unlikely to go lower. There are also many ordinary people who are happy as well. One taxi driver told me that he aga aga the right amount will be about 50k or 60k and he was so happy that he guessed it right too. In the kopitiams every Ah Peh is also happy because they also computed the amount correctly with some winning big time in their bets using their abacus.
Confidentially, I too was happy as I dreamt of the number $55k also. And this is the same as the number the little bird at Serangoon Road picked.
It is a big coincidence that $55k is the number that everyone picked. For the superstitious or believers of supernatural forces, this must be a sign that the gods also agreed.
We now have many happy people in an agreeable mood to start the new year with a happy salary. I don’t think anyone needs to explain anything about this happy coincidence. Nothing really changed and it is after all a judgement call or an act of god. Let’s be happy and keep everyone in the happy mood instead of bitching around like a dog in heat. Otherwise many people will have many explanations to do when policies changed.
And a happy lunar new year to every one. Be happy. With the GDP out of the formula, hopefully this distraction will no longer be a preoccupation of those who are counting their bonuses and time can be well spent on improving the lot of the people. And there is no more guilt of being paid too much as it is done by an independent body with the approval of a compensation specialist agency and the Parliament.