Friday, December 2, 2011

Consolation Prize For Corruption

It was not the report card they expected. Singapore is now placed fifth according to the latest ranking by non-governmental corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI). Significantly, the countries perceived by experts or their residents to be less corrupt - New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Sweden - all have heads of government drawing smaller salaries from the tax payers.

Mr Liau Ran, who oversees TI's rankings for East Asia, has this notion about corruption-free countries: "In many countries, you have to pay (and pay) to get things done." TI's ranking has a more stringent definition of corruption: abuse of entrusted power for private gain. What Liau missed out is that what we have is a pre-paid reward system for sanctioned corruption of morals.

Responding to Han Fook Kwang's concern about the ministerial pay policy remaining deeply popular, Lee Kuan Yew said this, "It is people's expectations - office is for honour. It is not."

He expands:
"We are in this part of the world where "money politics" is the culture, we're not in Europe, nor Australasia, or some region where different political cultures prevail, different standards of living and different population ratio. Are we able to maintain this system? You see your counterparts, their wives are bedecked with jewels. And yours?" (HT, page 123)

In case you miss the drift:
"Some Singaporeans believe ministers ought to do it for honour and glory. But how many will do it for more than one term? My generation did it because we had prepared ourselves to give up everything.
Can a successor generation do that? No." (HT, pages 125-126)

It would appear that the vaunted aspiration for attaining the Swiss standard of living was never about striving for the European benchmark of moral society, just the monetary hallmark. Hence the consoling pat on the back: Singapore remains the least corrupt in Asia, ahead of Hong Kong and Japan. The attempt at sophistry reminds one of an old communist joke:
"Following months of negotiations, the long awaited hundred-metre sprint race between American President John Kennedy and Russian Premier Nikita Khruschev finally took place. The Soviet First Secretary came in a respectable silver medallist, while the American President was unfortunately second from last."


  1. LKY said that our ministers will covet the jewels of the wives of ministers in this part of the world if our ministers are not paid the highest in the world.
    Lim Wee Kiat said if our ministers are paid 500K, they won't have enough dignity to talk to now our ministers talk down to other ministers?


  2. Very often, you hear stupid people say "If you don't like Singapore, then get out or shut out. " Mostly to imply there are many other places (like 3rd world or 1st) for you to taste that "better" life.

    I like to play that stupid role today and say to our Politicians "If you don't like to govern Singapore, then get out to other countries and run their country. There are 'cheaper, faster, better" places like China/India for you to be Head Chiefs. Or there're Japan/ANZ for you to contend with human rights & fierce opposition scrutiny . Or better still, there're Phlippines/Indo/CAmbodia for you to run any monkey business under the tables so your wives can bedeck herselves with jewelry and big houses.

    So if they don't want to serve Singaporeans with honor and honesty, then go somewhere else and be heroes. We can do without them.

  3. Since SG has so many draconian laws and believes that punishments act as good deterrent, just change the law to include death penalty for senior officials who are found corrupted. It should deter crimers like it did for drugs..very effective right?!

  4. Yesterday ST headline screamed: "Singapore workers earning more"
    When I read the details, Singapore workers' salary only increase by 0.1% compared to last year after taking inflation into account. We should celebrate, shouldn't we? Cos' it could have been negative earning.

  5. woah drop their salaries only and they drop the corruption index ranking already ...#fail.
    goes to show..only money speaks.
    so the litmus test is AFTER the salaries are dropped, whether the index ranking will fall further..
    honestly, if the leaders don't want to work more than 1 term, so be it.
    then pick another. no one is party is...
    it can only improve social mobility if leadership pipelines and renewal cycle are constantly refreshed with ideas.
    nobody owes anybody a living.
    if they want to be paid to be honest, then imagine how convincing LSS telling workers 'cheaper, faster, better' mantra when they don't get paid and no riots..
    delusional party.

  6. To score a 5 is truly admirable.
    At least the Result shows that
    Singapore is not as corrupt as
    most Singaporeans tend to believe.
    At least most of the netizens do
    shout that the super remunerations
    of political
    office holders and CEOs of State
    Run Companies as legalized
    With the good ranking Singaporeans
    can now put their suspicions to rest.
    We are better than US, UK and almost
    all other countries.

  7. High salary aside, its the pension that starts from age 55 that are raiding the tax payers' money, Imaging the number of ministers we will have down the years... The $$ is mind boggling !

  8. /// Responding to Han Fook Kwang's concern about the ministerial pay policy remaining deeply popular, ///

    Of course it is deeply popular - among the ministers. Try telling that to the hoi polloi.

  9. A blog to persuade Singaporeans (especially the generation that does not remember from whence Singapore came from) about the importance and relevance of Lee Kuan Yew as the mentor of Singapore -

  10. //To score a 5 is truly admirable.
    At least the Result shows that
    Singapore is not as corrupt as
    most Singaporeans tend to believe.//

    From 1st to 5th, result shows that maybe TI guys know something about Singapore that the rest of us don't. Open up your Freedom of Info Act, then we talk about how corrupt or not you like us to believe. Unless of course nepotism is conveniently masked as meritocracy.

  11. What kind of government is it that has no honour, no ethics in its dealings with people, with $$$?
    We may call ourselves 1st world or even top-of-the-world but we are nothing but another corrupted 3rd world banana republic, nothing more.