Good day to all,

It was uncool to be a PAP supporter in JC. Whenever I declare my support for the ruling party, I get ridiculed, accused of being a bootlicker or cannot think independently from what our textbooks teach us.

Seriously, what is wrong with youths this days? In Mandarin, we have this proverb 饮水思源, translated to mean when you drink water, remember the source. The PAP brought Singapore from nothing to something other people from other countries admire in less than 50 years. I can hear the naysayers saying the PAP did not do that, the people did. I agree that Singaporeans did the hard work but I put it to you, without the PAP leading the way, would you have put in the hard work?

One famous phrase in comments is “I do not hate ____ but ____”. I also hear anti-PAP supporters and pro-opposition supporters say, “I do not hate the PAP but ____”

Fill in the blanks with

  1. High Minister salaries
  2. High foreign worker intake
  3. Detaining and lawsuits against the opposition
  4. GRCs
  5. Low healthcare expenditure
  6. Crowded trains that break down
  7. Discrimination because of NS
  8. High Defense spending

Seriously, Singaporeans are a bunch of complainers who do not appreciate what they have. All the problems above are actually small issues compared to other nations. Look at the corruption in Philippines over the aid issue, starvation and piracy in African nations and threat of war in the Korean peninsular. All are much bigger issues that we as Singaporeans don’t have to face.

Nevertheless, let me blow up the above issues and say why we are actually lucky the PAP government has already made the problem small enough. They could have been much worse.

In part 1 of this series, I will discuss why we need to pay top-dollar for our ministers.

I do not doubt the facts that our PM and his Cabinet are paid many times more than second or third on the leadership pay-scale list. I also acknowledge the fact that many Singaporeans are unhappy with these facts.

Our ministers’ salaries are largely pegged to the top earners in the private sector with a variable bonus scheme. These top-earners are usually top bankers, businessmen, engineers, doctors and lawyers. A “discount” is then applied to reflect the sacrifice of public office.

I argue that we are actually underpaying our ministers and other countries are in fact wrong. If CEOs running multi-million dollar corporations get paid a certain amount, I do not see why our leaders running a multi-billion dollar economy should be paid any less.

I can predict what detractors are going to say. Serving the people is a privilege and sacrifices have to be made to enter public office. What idealism!

You pay for what you get. Ever heard of, “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. You pay peanuts to office-holders, you can bet Singapore will fall down the corruption list. First, high salaries deter corruption. This example is clearly seen in developing countries like some of our neighbors where civil servants and politicians sometimes take bribes to supplement their meager incomes.

I would prefer a businessman, banker, lawyer, doctors or any other highly qualified people to run Singapore then any Tom, Dick and Harry.  These people have managed thousand-employee corporations for years, know our legal system inside out or have the brain capacity to get what they are today. Would you want somebody who wears slippers to register for elections to run the country? Even an opposition politician with a certain PhD was caught lying when he drank glucose water on his hunger strike.

We need to pay to get highly-qualified, honest, capable men and women who have proven their worth in the public, military or private sector to come and lead Singapore. Not people who can only open their mouths to spout human-rights ideas and write fanciful proposals. We need people of action, not paper tigers.

The hidden factor

In my previous article, I wrote about the fact that US President Obama is entitled to use 2 Boeing 747 Air Force One jets at his personal disposal. Let my give further examples, White House maintenance, Camp David, his Secret Service escorts, Marine One helicopters etc. Anyone wanna tabulate how much these benefits costs?

British MPs have hidden housing subsidies. Furthermore, the revolving door system is at work in the US and Europe where politicians enter the private sector after crafting legislation that favours the very companies they will retire in. Google Donald Rumsfeld for a start. US presidents are known to give speeches and write books that net them millions after they leave office.  Do you see that happening in Singapore?

I admit Lee Kuan Yew has wrote a few books but I doubt he gets millions in proceeds from them. Do you see our former leaders entering the private sector working for corporations against the people? Our politicians simply fade away for they well-deserved retirement.

The fact is Western politicians have many hidden benefits in office that make their pay seem lower in comparison. Many get cushy jobs after retirement from public office. Who knows, what corrupted legislation they have crafted? Do we want that system in Singapore?

In my concluding remarks, I have shown why the salary comparison that many anti-high-salary supporters used are in fact flawed for they fail to include all the hidden benefits that western politicians have. 

Singapore is regularly ranked one of the best places for immigrants to work in or stay. We have safety, our banks respect your privacy and we have a stable political system. All because we have qualified people to steer Singapore to this very point where other citizens from other nations admire us. I put it to you, would you prefer to be born in Singapore or in any other ASEAN country? If you do not want Singapore, I’m sure there are millions who will die for a chance to trade places with you. That is the extent of our success that the 40% do not realise. I urge all of you, don’t kill the chicken that lays the golden eggs.

Thus my stand is that our PM and his cabinet deserve every cent they get. My only gripe is that they aren’t paid more. Look out for my next article.

Yours faithfully

Michelle Lee