For Self-interest or People’s Interest?

After announcing the ministerial’s salaries hike for MPs and administrative officers – the elite of the civil service- last week, Senior Minister Goh Chong Tong was reported saying that “the latest civil service pay hike is aimed at retaining and attracting younger officers.”

Ministerial Pay Rise This is despite the fact that Ministers at the starting grade will take home $1.94 million next year – an increase of 21 per cent over this year’s $1.6 million under the revised salary package.

SM Goh further explained that the increase was necessary and emphasised that the Ministers were less concerned about their own salaries because their salaries were actually quite attractive.

“But we are concerned about the civil servants now and the next generation of people whom we are trying to target to become Ministers,” he said. 

Read the report here>>>

For Money or for people

Personally, I am flabbergasted over SM Goh’s comments and reasons for proceeding with the hike.

Notwithstanding that the retaining of Ministers is a valid reason for expediting the hike despite the increasing inflation, but it seems to send out a very wrong signal to the public.

For once, I am concern and question the agenda of any Minister taking up his/her role in our public service by using money as a “carrot” to retain and lure young officers.

Would he/she be in a ministerial role for the money or is he/she truly passionate about serving fellow Singaporeans?

The answer, I believe makes a lot of difference in how Singapore will be led. This would eventually affect the livelihood of us Singaporeans with the kind of policies rolled out for “nation-building”.

Nevetheless, I believe there are more others reasons to leave the public service apart from not having a high salary package. The other possible reasons surely cannot be any much different from us non-elites which should include having a lousy boss, not having opportunities for personal development or a dislike of the working culture.

So would increasing the salary package really solve the problem? Or is the increment really meant to solve that problem?

The sort of leaders we need

Ideally speaking, we need more leaders that will lead with their heart and soul especially if one who is in a role of a Minister.

If one steps up to become a Minister, it should be a calling rather than a career.

The reason why they serve makes a difference because in the face of great adversity, we can be sure that those who serve with passion will stick to the end of their duties even if it costs them their lives.

For those who are in for the money, we can expect them to leech on the people’s resources and lives. And like a hired hand, we can expect them to elope at the sight of danger.

Therefore, it is up to us to decide which one of these two types of leaders would we rather have lead us.

I really dread to think how Singapore will be run with the young and new Ministers in office who are in for self-interest rather than the people’s initerest.

But probably it is not too hard to imagine when we just have to look at our present state.

Read related TOC article here>>>

9 thoughts on “For Self-interest or People’s Interest?

  1. dear Andrew,
    i agree but didnt u just took a picture with one of them? 🙂

    American Heritage Dictionary –
    hire·ling n. One who works solely for compensation, especially a person willing to perform for a fee tasks considered menial or offensive.

    btw are pastors as employees, hirlings too?
    Should they be better cultivated through the giving of gifts(like NT)
    as needed rather than the provision of a regular salary?

    “But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.” John10

  2. Ministers’ Salaries – is the government losing touch?

    Posted by theonlinecitizen on April 9, 2007

    By Leong Sze Hian

    I refer to the increase in ministerial pay.

    Before the increase, political appointment holders take home $ 46 million in total a year, which is only 0.13 per cent of total Government expenditure, or 0.022 per cent of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product.

    As to not having a sense of proportion in quarreling about $74 million, after the 60 per cent increase by the end of next year after the 3-step salary revision announced in Parliament on April 9, from a proportional perspective, it is 151 per cent of the total amount of donations received by the Community Chest in 2006.

    For the 1st to 10th decile of non-retiree households surviving on only $160 average monthly income from work per household member (Department of Statistics’ “Key Household Income Trends 2006), which I estimate to be about 324,000 Singaporeans living in about 90,000 households, this sum can increase their income of $ 160 by 143 per cent to $ 388.

    If we take 0.13 per cent of total Government expenditure as a benchmark, the United States and Malaysia would be paying political appointment holders about US $ 3.5 billion (S$ 5.3 billion) and RM 160 million (S$ 70 million) respectively.

    As to private sector achievers sacrificing their lucratic salaries to join politics, with no guarantee of success and took a chance, I would like to ask in the history of Singapore, how many political appointees have ever failed so that we may get a sense of the proportion of the guarantee of success and the chances they are taking ?

    What is the proportion of political appointees who sacrificed higher paying jobs in the private sector, versus the proportion who may end up with perpetually risk-free higher salaries and pensions in public service ?

    “It’s a competitive world in which we live, and if we can’t compete we are not going to live well” – If political appointees live well earning about $ 5,300 a day, I think the 324,000 Singaporeans living on $ 160 a month may need a lift in their living too.

    Describing political leaders who should be ready to sacrifice for the good of the people as an admirable sentiment, – may I suggest that a poll be conducted among all political appointees to gauge the proportion that needs more pay in order to sacrifice for the good of the people ?

    The eyes of the world may be on Singapore, as we debate whether a person who earns $ 5,300 a day, may in a sense, be losing touch with those who may be at the other end of the spectrum of Singapore’s 105th ranking in the world for income equality, and 130th out of 178 countries for Happiness.

    Our daughters and mothers may not be maids in other countries, but some of our elderly fathers and mothers are working as cleaners in food courts or collecting empty drink cans, earning about $ 600 a month.

    I know of some Singaporeans who have worked as maids, By the way, what’s wrong with being a maid as they provide a valuable service, doing an honest job for a decent living?

    A maid in Canada is paid about C$ 2,000 (S$ 2,600) and Hong Kong’s minimum wage for maids is HK $ 3,400 (S$ 660), which may be more than what some Singaporeans earn.

    Pegging pay to two-thirds of the median income of the top 48 earners in the professions may in a way, be an inherent bias, which may tend to contribute to policies in the future that may continue to widen the income gap. The underlying principle that people need to be paid more to be motivated to perform is not flawed. However, some element of pay should also be pegged to the ability to raise the income of lower-income Singaporeans.

    For example, the pay after the increases is about 135 times the $ 1,180 average monthly income of the 11th to 20th decile of households in Singapore, or 78 times the $2,040 median monthly income of Singaporeans. Perhaps this could also be considered as part of the benchmark for pay increases in the future.

    The above calculations already reflect that by the end of 2008, the salary will increase further to 88 per cent of the benchmark.

    For other ranks of the civil service, the highest increase this year is 16 per cent.

  3. Joe:

    Ha ha… Firstly, just in case…. I do not take any political side whether it is PAP, WP, SDP or whatever P…. =P

    My political views are Pro-Singapore.

    In this entry, I was just pointing out how having this approach of increment to retain young officers would have its pitfalls and the wrong signal it sends to the public.

    However, in regards to Mr Teo Ser Luck, he is truly a leader that serves with passion and not for his personal advancement.

    He said in his own words, that he does what he does because he believes in making a difference in the lives of Singaporeans. That’s y he came on board despite needing to disrupt his already illustrious career and give up his prestigious positon with an MNC (you can find his CV and profile when you google).

    It was his call to serve, and not a career move. He came into the political scene at a young age, so that’s another sacrifice he made.

    Btw, he said all those when I asked him why he chose to come into the political scene. So it was not him who talked about it in a “boasting” manner.

    I believe him in what he shared to me cos I saw for myself his actions and passion for us over the years. He is a very “ground” person and a hands-on leader, unlike many others.

    Others may talk alot, but we see almost nothing or no action.

    We need more leaders like Mr Teo who are for the people’s interest. That is why I took a picture with him.

    Hope this clarifies 🙂

  4. Thanks for clarifying. Among the new MPs who gave up illustrious careers, Mr Teo is one of the more hands-on & efficient leader. It could be due to his background in accounting & logistics.

    Let’s hope that he’s not a mere yes man, & continue to be a Pro-Singapore patriot when he gets promoted to minister/minister-of-state level & involve in policy formations on heavy weight issues like labour, finance etc.



    Prov 29.4 By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.

  5. How much longer must the over seventy GCT(SM) and over eighties MM Lee and President Nathan be retained with the ‘unbelievable’ increases in their remunerations.

    ‘To attract and retain younger talents’, I see old fags staying in the cabinet whereas citizens over forties face problem getting employments.

  6. And to add, I despise people who proselytise, preach but do not follow their own teachings.

    Btw, if anyone claims to be of utmost patriotic, people loving and benevolent; then after earning multi-millions from politicals offices, it is high time for the long serving old(very old in fact) to volunteer their services to the country and to guide aspiring politicians.

    Asking to be paid just show how MERCENARY these preachers of virtues are, shame, shame, SHAME!

  7. Once I also hated hypocrites, but now no more. If anyone is hypocrites, he is not cheated others. On the reflection, he is cheated himself. For a man who is not true to even himself, how can he be true to the living God. On our part, we must see the wrong of others, to refine ourselves. We can learn the lesson without paying the school fees, let the unrighteousness pay for their school fees – who know he who pay their school fees, maybe paying their salvation for something no worth well. One thing, don’t be react to situation – which mean you are not in control. Control your inner being and play a part in change your circumstance and other’s as well.

  8. actually, with the current high salary, there would already be people who become ministers for self-interest and money. So, making it higher would not necessarily attract the wrong persons (who are already attracted). But there are two sides to a coin.

    I believe that an attractive salary is needed to attract the good ones who are not only passionate but also capable to run the country wisely. Passion is not enough. Capability is also needed. And if they are capable, there are likely to be many private companies wooing them with salaries much higher than the government can offer.

    With the loss of family privacy and hard work that being a real minister entails, I think they do deserve sufficiently high salaries. Let’s not begrudge their pay if they really serve the country well and the benefits they bring to the country are more than what the country gives them. I am talking about the deserving ministers.

  9. just to add on to what i wrote just now …. While I think , objectively , ministers DO deserve competitive salaries
    IF they are really adding value to the ordinary citizens’ lives (and not merely padding their own Work Review with things that look good on paper but not in practice) …….

    1) my uncle is fifty and has almost nothing in his CPF . He is taking whatever jobs he can whenever there are jobs (like security guard , labourer , carrying things ). And sometimes there are no jobs . His savings are low and his CPF almost nothing. And he’s already fifty.

    It is not that he is lazy (like what a certain minister’s sheltered & obviously unexposed-to-the-world daughter said about such people some months ago.) It is simply that foreign workers take up most of the jobs that he IS able to do . He wants a job but doesn’t always have.

    My uncle had left school at a young age due to my grandparents being poor (that was 30 to 40 years ago ) and so had only PSLE qualifications. After that, he worked to earn money.

    Then he got into an accident and his eyesight became limited ( tunnel vision ), so obviously the jobs he can take are limited.

    2) I have another relative, an aunt. My aunt is different from this uncle. She is a few years younger than him. She earned a university degree and had a civil engineering job. About five years ago, she was retrenched. She is still unemployed. And every year, every month, every day, her savings and CPF (for housing instalments) are eroded.

    ==> 3) With such people in Singapore, I am wondering if the amount of $ given to the top people in Singapore can be used in some other way to help such persons? not asking for charity or welfare state, but the luxury does seem to contrast very starkly with the harsh survival worries of people like my uncle/aunt.

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