Friday, November 26, 2010

When Less Is More

In announcing the greatest bonus payout for the 74,000 civil servants since 1994 (2.5 months plus 1 minimum next year), the Government took pains to highlight that pay adjustments due since last year for ministers and top civil servants will be put on hold again. Before you shed a tear for your altruistic MP, take a look at the chart.

Except for local manufacturing and MNC, all the professionals' median salaries included in the private sector benchmark scheme, some say scam, used to compute ministers' pay have headed south - which makes the "Local Manufacturer" with a double digit net positive jump a suspect statistic. Remember MM Lee's comment about the "pipe dream" that local companies can compete with successful ones in other parts of the world? MNC's, as is well known, always have had out of this world expatriate packages and "hardship allowance" tweaks. If ministerial salaries are indeed indexed against the declining trend, shouldn't they be pointing in the same direction? Since we are told the "planned adjustment" for the ministers have been deferred for the third time, it's a no brainer to conclude that they have been grossly over compensated for the past 3 years and maybe more. For those lower ranked civil servants swooning over their bumper bonus and $300 one-time pay off, read on.

Despite the big sacrifice of foregoing salary adjustment, ministers at the entry level grade of MR4 will take home $1.58 million this year, up from last year's $1.49 million - that's $90,000 extra. Administrative officers at the entry level Superscale Grade of SR9 will get $365,000, up from $338,000 - that's $27,000 extra. Kinda makes the 300 bucks look puny, doesn't it? Note also they quote only the "entry level" numbers, meaning the actual average hike for the top dogs will definitely be more than enough for a pastry cooking lesson in France. Makes you wonder how Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, minister in charge of the civil service paychecks (including his own), will account for the extraneous compensation outlay - classify them as "Other Costs" as inspired by Balakrishnan's creative YOG accounting?

A number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have already told the press that they won't be able to match the Government's generosity for its own rank and file. The Chairman of wallpaper supplier Goodrich Global, not feeling particularly good or rich this year, said he will probably pay his 150 employees a maximum of 2 months bonus. Deputy secretary-general of NTUC Halimah Jacob said workers are paid less during bad times but are rewarded fairly during good times. Fat cats with recession proof payola packages excepted.


  1. Statistics are but tools and means for interpretations.
    And interpretations are subjected to the interpreters, manipulators and Rulers.

  2. 不在其位,不谋其政。Let's focus more on our family and enjoy our life, don't bother by those things are totally out our control....

  3. GQ you are so dumb. Is is totally out of our control. Vote the PM out and he will lose his million dollar job. Its exactly in our hands..

  4. My Statistics professor was one of the leading authority, both in academia as well as industry. His take on the field.......there are 3 types of liar's in the world. Liar's, Damn Liar's and Statisticians......

  5. To Anonymous at 2.49pm

    Are you sure your statistics professor used the apostrophe mark in his saying, and that he said statistician? I think he would have said "there are 3 types of liars in the world. Liars, Damn Liars and politicians...."

  6. No matter how they spin it, there is no justification for the obscene amount these fat cats are getting, when many are struggling to make ends meet.
    Public service is a calling. And if we have to
    pay them this much to serve, they are no different to the merceneries.

  7. The civil servants forget that they are a cost centre, not a profit center. They are expensive overheads, not generators of revenue. Imagine the receptionist demanding the same profit sharing rewards of a private sector CEO, whose job hangs by the quarterly results. One bad downturn, and he has to join the unemployment queue.


    Civil servants especially Ministers should possess a PASSION TO SERVE people, not a passion for money.

    As demonstrated by the recent SLA case, it can be concluded that high pay does not help to prevent corruption.

    The government's stance of using high pay to attract top talent would only lead to the wrong kind of talent joining public service: very smart but morally questionable.

    We need our ministers to be accountable, to be sincere and to serve with passion in order to lead our people. I find these qualities sorely lacking in some of our leaders.

    No doubt our leaders need to be as capable as a CEO, but it would be fool-hardy and dangerous to put someone talented but without morals at the very top.

  9. Our Ministers have the best of both worlds-
    out-of this world salaries and non accountability.(heck, many don't even need to fight an election thanks to their own designed scheme to keep them in their posts)
    Take the recent examples of the Japanese and Korean Minsters who resigned because they were seen to be indequate. The former for merely making a gaffe that his job was too easy and the latter for understandably restraint reponse to the North attack. Yet they were paid only a fraction what ours are getting.
    Now compare to our Home Minister, screwups after screwups -Mas Selamat, checkpoints lax and increase in youth crimes. And he's got a promotion.
    I don't even have to mention the others,who took charge of housing, heath, enviroment. etc
    Are they really so indispensable?

  10. Believe me, not a single ministry will be in trouble just because the Minister incharge of it has gone to heaven. Even if concurrently a few of them join each others on the journey to the West, there should not be any worry.

    And that is how useful or important our ministers are.