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.