Where Ee and PAP Failed

In the US, it is common to talk about “forging a bipartisan approach” whenever any contentious issues have to be debated in Congress. Gerard Ee apparently forgot about that, and a result, did the PAP a disfavour. But the PAP is to be blamed as well.

One week after the release of the Ee report, the majority of Singaporeans polled apparently still find the revised salaries too high.

How did that happen?

First, the Ee committee seemed to have carried out its work in secret. Ee gave no public progress updates, no interim findings, he held no public hearings, nobody even knew when he was going to complete his work. It was so bad the press had to query him, whereupon he said he would complete it by 30 Dec but refused to give any details, saying it’s up to the Prime Minister to release whatever recommendations he has made.

Meaning a matter of top public interest is totally confidential, and he doesn’t want to share anything with the public.

One has to wonder– why all this secrecy? Yes, pay is a sensitive matter, but this is a matter of great public interest, and there should be full transparency about the process.

In the US, when the Congress appoints a committee to investigate a matter, there will be full public hearings, and everything is placed on the public record.

Why didn’t Ee do that?

Of course, Ee does not have the power to subpoena witnesses to appear before his committee, unlike US Congressional committees. But don’t you think that, if he had held public hearings, anyone he invited would have come unhesitatingly?

If all feedback and views from the invitees are published in full in the public record, then there would be no grand surprise when the final report is released, no unexpected complaints that the amounts are still too high.

While Ee consulted a variety of “experts”, disappointingly Ee did not specifically solicit feedback from opposition political parties or even their elected MP’s and NCMP’s.

Think about it: this is an election issue, this is one reason why 40% of voters turned against you, this is the very reason you called for a review committee, yet you fail to consult the key constituents and their elected representatives who have been calling for your pay to be cut.

Can there be a greater blunder?

The PAP also has to shoulder its share of the blame for the non-acceptance of the Ee report. Apparently PM Lee briefed his own party’s MP’s— and not the Parliament as a whole– before the report was made public.

In fact, according to the Today report, “PAP MPs said while they were given an update on the recommendations, they did not get the hard copies of the report. One MP confirmed that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and most of the Cabinet Ministers were present at the meeting.

It is understood that Mr Lee and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is Minister in Charge of the Civil Service gave the MPs insights into the recommendations put forth by the committee.”

In the US they would never do this. Whenever the President wants to push something big through the Senate and Congress, the first thing he will do is call in the Senate Minority Leader and Congressional Leaders, as well as the leaders of his own party, to brief them and sound them out.

It is not just because the Opposition in the US is strong.

It is common sense.

It is simply because you are proposing something to satisfy your critics, thus the first thing to do is to see whether your critics can be satisfied by your proposals.

That is the reason why you call them in, why you brief them first.

If they are satisfied, you can safely go ahead with your proposals. If not, at least you know why they are still not satisfied, and you can either modify your proposals accordingly or else think of the points you want to make to counter their key objections.

So the PM wasted his time and energy briefing his own MP’s. They are not the ones who objected to his salary. It’a the opposition who are objecting to his salary.

But instead of presenting his proposals to the Leader of the Opposition, instead of soliciting the Opposition’s views and likely points of dissatisfaction, he chooses to hold a briefing for his own party MP’s, none of whom objected to his salary to begin with.

I don’t think I would pay $1 to such a man who can make such a fundamental political mistake, much less $2.2M.

It is clear that, by only briefing PAP MP’s and not the entire Parliament, the Govt is asking its MP’s to sell the report to their voters, and the Govt wants to rally its MP’s behind the report.

It is clear that this Govt has no intention to forge a “bipartisan” approach to any major issue, that it intends to push forth only on party lines.

Hence any expectations of a “new normal” in Singapore politics is fantasy.

The Minister Pay Series

1. Eat That, Gerard Ee
2. The End For The Opposition
3. Where Ee and PAP Failed
4. Why PAP Needs High Minister Salaries
5. Are PAP Ministers Man Enough?


About politicalwritings

Someone who sees beyond PAP and "opposition" in Singapore politics. To understand more please see the Top 10 link below.
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31 Responses to Where Ee and PAP Failed

  1. cy says:

    Shouldn’t the boss(PM) inform his subordinates (ministers and below) first of a drastic cut in their pay which wasn’t what they signed up for in the first place? It’s different whether they hear it from the review committee or from their party sec-general. It will help to close ranks and not lower morale.

    There are already talk of some ministers unhappy with the drastic cut. Grace Fu’s words showed that this is the “minimum wage” for them, don’t cut any further or we will resign.

    • What the boss does with his men is unimportant. If his men want to leave him, that’s his problem too. Really, what’s the difference between earning $2m and $4m a year? Once you get past a certain number, do you really need more?

  2. kojakbt22 says:

    This is a good article. You writings are pretty good. Wanting to ask you a favor. Can I have your permission to submit your articles to TRE for posting? Of course, will make sure the usual credit is properly reflected in the article and the posting links back to your site. Thank you 🙂

  3. anon says:

    As I see it, PM Lee can still salvage the day for his party, if he would announce in parliament that he is going to take the matter to the people by way of a national REFERENDUM. Well, one hope that he has enough political acumen to seriously consider this option.

  4. anon says:

    hey bro,
    Who said anything about faith in the PAP?

  5. tinybee says:

    For a foolish fleeting moment i thought he might have looked at the bigger picture. Seems he’s as narrow minded as ever, which is pretty much tantamount to digging his own grave. Wouldnt want someone so shallow to be my pm.

  6. Andy W says:

    I read that Xiao Loong briefed the WP MPs too! He did not brief the PAP MP solely

  7. Leonard says:

    I think you are right to say that. Such reports need to announce on the right channel rather than doing it via backdoor. Instead – The correct way to do it is Gerard should only announce it during parliament or just broadcast it on national TV.

    The thing just make it very tasteless. Why should existing MP needs to know 1st (OK here’s the report.. U ok hor? anyway bobian) then release to public. God knows if Gerard make any changes after sharing it with PM…

  8. Wils says:

    I agree that the due process was not clear, how the people giving the feedback was not evident and the report was quite pathetic really.

    About pay I do agree that everyone has their respective perception. To those who are accustomed to earning millions will say it is drastic. To those who are now earning paltry salaries in comparison to the dramatic rise in cost of living will be saying not enough.

    I guess the issue is about which perspective is more relevant and since the majority are salary men, then the later should be applicable.

    Now the pay is settled, then with all the talks about KPI and Performance based compensation, will we be seeing that? It is one thing to apply to the folks at the bottom, what about on people at the top?

  9. Basically Wrong says:

    The problem started with the brief which restricted the review committee to comparing ministerial pay to the commercial sector as opposed to a blanket review of ministerial pay. With the term of reference as such … the results were not unexpected.

    • If the process I’d suggested had been followed, Ee would have reported halfway thru that no one who provided feedback believes in pegging to private sector, what do you want me to do PM. But of course, Ee did not seek feedback from the right people, and in any case, kept all his cards to himself.

  10. lookpla says:

    Article Mistake #1:

    “disappointingly Ee did not specifically solicit feedback from opposition political parties or even their elected MP’s and NCMP’s.”

    Not true. Opposition MP’s WERE consulted.

    Article Mistake #2:

    “he chooses to hold a briefing for his own party MP’s, none of whom objected to his salary to begin with.”

    Are you sure no one objected to his salary?

    Article Mistake #3:

    “I don’t think I would pay $1 to such a man who can make such a fundamental political mistake, much less $2.2M.”

    Can you be a better prime minister?

  11. bongkinchen says:

    If there is no bipartisan approach to the review of the current absurd and obscene political salaries, it is the incumbents’ political loss and the alternatives’ political every gain at the next husting, come 2016. The electorate is not convinced that this is first class world standard. It is out of this world right up to stratosphere of the political universe. If there is no further “fine tuning” on the revision, the electorate will fine tune for the incumbents to easy streets.

  12. Pingback: Why PAP Needs High Minister Salaries | Political Writings

  13. Concerned Singaporean says:

    Why do you keep on using the US political system as a benchmark of comparison with Singapore? We are who we are, and let’s keep it that way!

    • Mai Kay Poh says:

      Absolute bullshit. This is typical of the nationalistic idiocy that proclaims “Western ways are evil.” Are you so indoctrinated that you can’t think for yourself and can only parrot what the PAP continues to harp? Can you not see that the PAP doesn’t see themselves as servants of the people (as they should) but rather rulers of the people? This is an example of the sheep in the 60% who think that just because the PAP said it, it has to be good. This is why we lose our best and brightest to emigration: Because they have an independent streak and can think “out of the box.”

      • Concerned Singaporean says:

        Why can we not work within the Singapore political system and instigate change? The PAP does not have to be in charge. I am not saying that “Western ways are evil”, I am merely implying that the Western, and especially the US way, should be upheld as some paradigm of political correctness. Look at what US democracy did to Iraq and Afghanistan!

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