Are PAP Ministers Man Enough?

The ongoing Minister Pay debate has been too focused on benchmarks and pegging– whether we should use the top 1,000 earners or a civil servant salary base for MP allowance which is then rolled up into Ministerial salary.

It’s really comical to see PAP MP’s try to defend high Minister pay by saying things like, “Obama makes US$7.5M in book sales. Or Clinton has made so much $$$ since he left office from speaking engagements.”

What politicians in other countries do once they leave office is not your business, ok? Even serial killers can get book deals and film rights in those countries! How can this be used to defend how much PAP wants to pay ministers? And to put it bluntly, didn’t Lee Kuan Yew write books too? SR Nathan? How much did they make? Should we claw back their books sales from their salaries? What about the amounts PAP Ministers can get after they leave office when they are appointed as board directors and corporate advisors? Shouldn’t we take that into account too?

How lame can you get, PAP?

But the debates in Parliament seem to have missed the point completely. What they seem to have forgotten is that voters aren’t personally affected by how much Ministers are paid. In other words, whether Ministers are paid $1M or $3M, the change in impact on our taxes is marginal. Nor do voters care how much PAP Ministers or even ex-US Presidents make from book sales, speaking engagements, company directorships, etc.

What voters care about is whether their lives are better, AS A RESULT OF YOUR MILLION-DOLLAR SALARIES.

The reason voters are pissed off is because their lives have not got better. And to add insult to inury, PAP Ministers gives all kinds of excuses. “Once in 50-year event”, “Learning Experience”, “Honest Mistake. Let’s Move On”, “It cannot be helped”, “30-year HDB mortgages are affordable”, etc.

They are pissed off because PAP Ministers are not man enough to resign, to take the accountability that comes about with the post.

Now PM Lee says that ministers should be accountable, whatever the pay, but “Singaporeans must evaluate ministers fairly”, and “they cannot expect ministers to never make mistakes.”

“Negligent or dishonest ministers will be sacked but ministers who do not perform well despite their best efforts will be moved to a less demanding portfolio, or, if necessary, phased out discreetly,” he said.

But he added exits are “delicate matters” and “must be handled with dignity and decorously”. Mr Lee said it must not “be turned into a public spectacle, lest it deters even more good people from entering politics”.

Notice that the word “resign” does not appear in PM Lee’s vocabulary. While PM Lee promised to sack negligent or dishonest ministers, I would even go further than that: prosecution is on the cards, especially if it involves criminal negligence or dishonesty. But that’s not the key issue that pisses people off.

The key point is, if your ministers and your government didn’t make people’s lives better, you do not deserve the pay you asked for. If your ministers made serious mistakes, you should just fire them if they didn’t offer their resignation already.

Companies in the private sector do it all the time. That’s why people leave to pursue “personal interests” or “spend more time with their family”. Does that deter people from entering the private sector? So why should it deter people from wanting to become PAP ministers?

Let me be very clear. Justifying high pay is very simple. You don’t need to bring up Obama’s book sales or his use of Air Force One.

You want high pay, you must guarantee good results. If you give mediocre results– give us our money back. And if you screw up, be man enough to resign, and have another more competent person take over.

That’s the way to justify your pay.

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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14 Responses to Are PAP Ministers Man Enough?

  1. Pingback: 不见棺材,不会掉泪! | Gintai_昇泰

  2. ~What voters care about is whether their lives are better, AS A RESULT OF YOUR MILLION-DOLLAR SALARIES~
    Double voter’s happiness, voters (tax payers) don’t mind double the political pay, not the pay cut.
    Oh no, let’s the voters be generous (do out part of sacrifices as National Interest) to consider discount factor.
    70% better voters happiness is enough to justy the double pay.
    New social compact.
    But of course, zero-tolerant of screw up, not matter how high your ranking in the team.
    Wanna take up the challenge?

  3. Pingback: Daily SG: 19 Jan 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  4. Weiloong Takahama says:

    Yaaay!!! Brilliantly written, ‘telling it like it is’ but will those monkeys listen!!
    They’ve been blind, deaf & dumb from the beginning, the PAP are not likely to change!

  5. anon says:

    In the first place, it is clear that the govt is not interested in the people’s views and opinion – saying that it does but not backing it up with real actions exposes this lack of sincerity very clearly.

    It is clear also that it is not interested in the clearly different principles that the WP has proposed which is to tie ministers’ pay to that of MPs which in turn is tied to senior civil servants. I find this a completely rational basis and removed the private sector’s direct inputs which PM Lee insists on linking his and his ministers’ pay with. In this respect, the competitiveness of civil service pay to the private sector is a different issue altogether.


    Perhaps what is even more revealing is that the PAP MPs are the same as before the LHL pledge of improvements. How else do you explain clearly STUPID statements made in reference to Obama’s use of Air Force one and the money Clinton made after his presidency. It was indeed plain STUPID when, their own old man is reeling off books of debatable substance ever since he stepped down and as you righly pointed out the rich corporate seats other ex-ministers are occupying. as the Bible says: While they see te splinter in the eyes of others, the PAP MPs failed to notice the hugh log in their own eyes!

    Huge waste of the country’s resources paying these 酒囊饭袋 -“wine sack, food bag”!

  6. Sgcynic says:

    “they cannot expect ministers to never make mistakes”

    We certainly never expect ministers to never admit mistakes!

  7. jaysim says:

    The current government can’t have too many to resign, otherwise 1.) it proves they are not so talented and 2.) since talent is so rare, once they resign, where else can we find more (of the same?) 3.) if they insist that talented people resign due to errors beyond their control, who else will want to join politics. Remember Charles Chong said the PAP cannot get more first rate people. And he rather tell it to an American than face it up with his own people.

  8. SWISSKAM says:

    How many of us are now actually “afraid” to take the job because it paid so much?
    I am.

  9. Boliao PAP says:

    Well written article. Well done.

  10. Whiny Singaporeans says:

    I don’t disagree with the writer’s premise — pay is not the issue, performance is. But this guy seems to live in a bubble, where he thinks the government here isn’t good and hasn’t improved lives here. I’d ask him to name another country that he would rather live in or one whose government he would rather have. The problem with many Singaporeans is the mindset that if their lives are not what they think it should be, it’s the gahmen’s fault. The concept of personal responsibility has dissipated, partly because the gahmen has nannied them all into such dependency that they assign all responsibility and all blame to it.

    • Thanks for comments, but I take it you have not read my site deeply. Here’s something you could look at: The Govt Owes Me Mentality. Singaporeans are in a bubble all right. They think that the PAP is the Govt and the Govt is PAP, that PAP is a “ruling party” with a divine right to rule and that all other political parties are “opposition” parties whose only job is to “check and balance” the Govt and who will never form a Govt despite contesting 81 our of 87 seats in an election.

  11. Nick says:

    Excellent piece of writing. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  12. Nick says:

    To “Whiny Singaporeans”
    You are probably not aware of the number of Singaporeans leaving Singapore permanently every year, not because they disliked Singapore as a nation and country, but they have found the PAP government intolerable and their policies adverse to their families and the nation. Go online and you will find numerous blogs written by ex-Singaporeans on their positive experience in their new countries. In addition, expose yourselves to BBC, CBC, ABC, CNN etc on the politics in other countries and soon you’ll find how parochial politics is in Singapore.

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