Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review Of the Salary Review

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean may have forgotten about Tan Yong Soon the Permanent Secretary, but lesser mortals have not. What peeved Singaporeans was not that he spent $46,500 for a pastry cooking holiday in France, but that he boasted he could have been away from office longer and not be missed.

A day after Gerard Ee said he will do away with the top secret formula that benchmarks minister's pay to the private sector, Teo quickly shot up his hand ("kee chiu'!) to object . Clouded in the same awe of mystery as Mah Bow Tan's dreaded Valuer for HDB pricing, the benchmark that was set at 2/3 the average income of top earners in the banking, accounting, engineering, law, local manufacturers and multi-national manufacturers, was used to determine the paychecks of ministers and top civil servants (administrative officers at the entry level Superscale Grade of SR9 and up). Teo drew the line in the sand, service salaries are outside the scope ot the review panel. Which means that people like Tan Yong Soon can look forward to being paid twice as much as Barack Obama. And you can't even vote him out of office, the way George Yeo was booted out.

Teo, who is the minister in charge of the civil service, said civil service salaries are reviewed regularly to ensure they remain competitive with the private sector. Never mind if private sector job scope, responsibility and accountability are different from the recession-proof public sector. "That's the principle for all civil service salaries because we need to make sure that public officers are properly rewarded. That's the only way in which we can get a good, competent and honest public service," adding, "this current review is focused on political appointment holders." That last emphasis was a personal message for Gerard Ee and his review panel.

The irony is that Teo said all that while handing out promotion certificates to members of the Home Team, the clowns who failed to catch Mas Selamat Kastari on the run. The terrorist was caught instead by the Malaysian police, who are paid pittance when compared with the amounts the fat cats are drawing. To this day, they have yet to extract the vital information from their prisoner - how did he make his away across the Johore Strait? Meanwhile, Teo insists on robbing the poor taxpayers to enrich the "good, competent and honest public service", which happened to include the SLA officer with a penchant for exotic European cars.


  1. The younger generation of Singaporeans will have to do what the older generation of Singaporeans failed to do;

    Vote out the PAP.

    If the young ones fail, the consequences will be dire. They will become just like their parents. Faceless peasants who need spurs every now and then.

  2. While I abhor the obscene salaries of the ministers, I have no problems with paying the Singapore civil servants well. They are the backbone of how clean, efficient and well run a country is. Look at Hong Kong after the handover to China. Didn't matter the British were gone, the Civil Service remained intact and functional to carry on as usual. And it is not unusual too that top civil servants in other countries earn more than the top dog in politics. It was only when the politicians in Singapore decided to reward themselves exorbitantly by trying to justify how important they were, that this backlash against well-paid (not overpaid) civil service was created.

  3. 高薪养廉啊。。。

  4. I have no problem with the salaries and bonuses of the lower-rung civil servants. They are quite well compensated, comparable to the top 80% in the private sector in similar positions and job scope. What should be reviewed is the pay scale and entitlements of the top civil service --- those perm secs and other superscale minions who have become corrupted by PAP money politics, and many see themselves as no different from being part of the ruling party. I.e. their perception is that they and the ruling PAP are one. These jokers are collecting $500K salaries at 30 years old, going up to $2M in their 50s. It's not like there is only a handful around like in the private sector, but literally thousands of them crawling all over the various ministries and stat boards doing essentially administrative jobs, writing papers, giving powerpoint presentations, overseeing office renovations, hobnobbing with ministers and attending dinners with ministers as guest-of-honour.

  5. PAP has previously, with just a stroke of the pen, parachuted their Ministers' pay into this specially selected Top Earners category but without the hard sweat and enterprenial risks that these top earners might have gone through.

    And now they decided to appoint a committee made up of another select group of Top Earners to recommend a discount ? How much discount does one expect they eventually recommend ? 10% ? Just like what Breaktalk will sometimes offer ?

    But it seems strange that PAP or LKY has never for once explained to us the exact reasons why our PM's pay should be several times worth than what (say)the US President should be paid ?

    Because they can't ?

  6. "Because they can't" - I like this one.

    More than half of Singaporean workers are employed by the government, directly or indirectly. They form the support base of PAP. Cutting their pay will cost PAP dearly in the next election. So the objection by Teo is totally understandable.

  7. I seriously doubt that the reduced pay scale would make a difference even after the review. Even a 30% cut still means that the PM and his ministers earn way more than the US President. We have a relatively smaller population, fewer or even no physical resources and also, Singaporeans make way less money than Americans and Europeans, and what is the justification for having such a high pay scale which tips over the scale of what an American politician earns????? Just at the beginning of this year, they announced a pay raise of 30% for cabinet ministers, which already seems unjustified other than that Singapore was no longer in a recession.

  8. I dare forecast the Result of the NEXT ELECTION now if CIVIL SERVANTS SALARIES are raised to higher level than now.
    To me, it is never a good sign when UNIFORMED PERSONNELS FROM THE MILITARY AND POLICE FORCE are inducted or drawn into the CABINET. This is especially so when the FOUNDING FATHER OF SIN had stated that the MILITARY WILL BE USED if and when there is 'freak' election result.
    As stated by Amused; more than half of Singaporeans are employed by the government, directly or indirectly. So, rewarding the CIVIL SERVANTS will endear them to the GOVERNMENT WHICH IS FORMED BY ONE PARTY NOW. It is then clear that if the families of the CIVIL SERVANTS too are enchanted with the good salaries their family members are getting, is it hard to tell who will be the victor in the next election?
    How convince can one be of the so-called change?
    And change to what?

  9. An city state like HKG can be as open and transparent about their civil service and payscale/pensions, why can't SG? What's there to hide?
    Unless they're not prepared to account to its people once again..then let's make sure by 2016 we vote in for more check-balance. I would say the same goes to our reserves..time they come clean with singaporeans' hard earned reserves. Again, the money belongs to the taxpayer. Not the Party, or any family dynasty. They need to get that into their heads!

  10. "We will not flich from the unpleasant, and we will not yield to the temptation of a soft solution when there is no way out. Together, we shall build a more secure and better future for our children." - Mr Lee Kuan Yew, The Mirror, April 1, 1968

  11. Agree with anon 2:05pm. While today the exercise is to review the political-office holders' salaries, it should not prevent our Civil Service Dept to come forward and be transparent about their salary scale viz a viz other countries. Where do we find such information? Some of us have reasons to believe that a handful of top Perm Sec or superscale minions should be transparent to the people. Don't forget, it is these same group of so-called talented elites who has a major say and craft in the policies that affect millions of singaporeans. Even if they are hiding behind the scene, we should know what exactly they're paid for the amount of policy thinking/work they've done. Given the abysmal results and bad taste of the Immigration, Housing, GINI, Labour & Entreprenuerial policies of the past decade, let's reveal if they've indeed been getting what they deserve.

    To anon 10.40 - if everyone said what you said, then there's reasons to pay good money after every tom, dick & harry who are seen as too important to the system? Ordinary citizens can also say they are the backbone to a clean, cooperative & compliant country that we are today..so pay up for their share? Then where is that going to stop? Until our leaders stop such an selfish "-entitlement" mindset, don't expect the citizens to comply.

  12. Tot hat SG Pundit - please stop trolling and propaganda yoru motherhood statements here. We're trying to move into our "future", not looking behind our rearview mirror. Whatever great the godfather has done, is an era over. Remember - a leader does NOT a nation build. It is also the hardwork, blood and toil of the ordinary singaporeans, our forefathers who have helped along this nation building. If you want to sing/dance/praise for the great lee, don;t worry. You don't have to wait too long. Your entire white (red) army will be doing that soon enough when he hit the bucket. There will time to praise/mourn/sing whatever you call it for weeks if not months. So get out of our way don't stop our progress towards a first-world parliament and electorate!

  13. "Whether it's the PAP or any other government does not interest me. I'm beyond that phase. I'm not out here to justify the PAP or the present government. I want to get across just how profound is this question of leadership and people and the ethical and philosophical beliefs of the leadership and the people." - Lee Kuan Yew, Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going

  14. Anon@7:30. Well, if tom, dick and harry are qualified to do the job, why not? You and I, the ordinary citizens could well become good civil servants, no? All I'm saying is the civil service is there to serve the government of the day. Unfortunately, in Singapore, the govt has been from the same political party for the last 46 years, and they have increasing blurred the line between govt and party so much so that many office holders may feel beholden to the party for being in their job, which should not be the case at all. But that does not detract from the fact that if one wants a good and efficient civil service, it has to be well-paid, and I stress again, not over-paid.

  15. Look at Norway. Look at Denmark. Look at New Zealand. They all have small population and their politicians and senior civil servants are definitely not paid anywhere close to ours. Yet they are among the least corrupted in the world and their citizens are definitely enjoying a higher standard of living compared to the average Singaporean. Somehow I don't buy the excuse that we need to pay exorbitant salaries to get competent ministers and civil servants. If these people are so competent why can't they lift the standard of living in Singapore to that of a First World country. I firmly believe the only reason we are paying such high salaries for a bunch of yes-men is because we have a dysfunctional democratic system. There is no check and balance and the government is free to abuse their authority with impunity.

  16. Goondoo

    If Singapore has Denmark's landmass/Norway/New Zealand land mass and no need to rely both foodwise and energywise, fine.
    However, unless you want to turn back the clock to 1920s where the population stays at 0.5M, it does not make economic sense

  17. Ajohor,

    So are you saying, the lack of landmass is the reason for our ministers and civil servants to be paid astronomical sums. Think clearly, the numbers don't even bear any connection to reality. They guys are delusional and the rest of the country is along with it. I just can't see the rationale of paying this kind of money for the outcome we are getting. The cost/benefit simply defy logic.