Friday, January 6, 2012

Millionaire Ministers of Singapore

Surely the bar can be set a wee bit higher
Only a few days ago, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Singapore will face "an environment of slow growth" for at least two years. UOB expects overall GDP growth to slow to 2.5 per cent this year. Now note that gloomy forecast of 2.5 falls nicely between 2% to 3%, the benchmark in the National Bonus Matrix that triggers a 50% bonus payout. It may be raining, but the ministers still have plenty to smile about.

Like the Breadtalk CEO member in his Committee to Review Ministerial Salaries, Gerard Ee is one who knows which side of his bread is buttered. That's why, die, die, the ministers must end up with a $1,000,000 paycheck.

The base figure of $55,000 a month would have been closer to public expectations, as Opposition Leader Mr Low Thia Khiang rightly pointed out in 2000. That's enough for a bungalow, two cars in the garage, servants and annual holidays skiing at the Swiss Alps or cooking lessons in France. But no, they have to fudge with the findings to come up with an additional 8 months of pay.

The 13th month AWS and Annual Variable Component are done deals. But nobody has a clue how the PM goes about handing out the 3 months individual performance bonus. Maybe all they need to do is tahan him, and vice versa. Vivian Balakrishnan flunked miserably at YOG budgeting, but still gets to keep his pension, thanks to an exception made in the no-more-pensions recommendation (appointed before May 21, 2003). As for the 3 months National Bonus Matrix invention referred to earlier, it's obvious that numbers can always be massaged to suit the intent. Now if they can produce 7% real GDP growth rate in the current economic climate, no one will quibble about their helping themselves to the economic pie.

And what is the "kinesthetic check" that Gerard Ee was yapping about? That must be a high-faluting version of the Lim Wee Kiak proposition:
"If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister's ideas and proposals. Hence, a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity."

So what's the real world like? Former president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises Lawrence Seow said "$1.1 million is rare":
"On a $10 million turnover, it quite good already if the CEO draws $250,000. On a $50 million turnover, maybe $500,000," referring to the revenue generators and not the cost centers hankering for easy money.


  1. Angry Singaporean1/06/2012 11:29 AM

    Shameful !!

  2. Well, are voters consulted?

  3. Cold comfort:

    1.pension is removed
    2.more will be determined to vote them out in 2016!

  4. Actually their high paid is also one of the sources of expensive life in Singapore, because they have to find ways and means to charge us and tax us more to pay their salaries. We don't want them to starve, but yet we also don't want them to over-pay themselves and showing us poor performance and blaming everything except themselves. Last heard is the SMRT CEO has just been sacrificed as the scapegoat.

    Politics In A Democratic Country Is Not Supposed To Be A Life Long Career! So,There Shouldn't Be This Issue Of Being Sufficiently Paid As A Politician. If They Are So Concerned About Pay, They Shouldn't Taking Up Public Office!

  5. With broken trains and flooded streets, there should be negative payout levels!

  6. “Ministerial pay pegged to the median income of top 1,000 Singaporean earners less 40 per cent”

    Median of 1,000 is 500th i.e. ministerial pay pegged to the top 500th earner’s pay.

    The above formula is flawed because it rewards our ministers to ensure that the rich(top earners) get richer.

  7. Don’t understand how the committee derive the figure (37% cut).

    Q1: By pegging to the top earners’ pay, ministerial pay will rise and fall in tandem with the top earners’ pay for that year. Then how does the committee know that it will be a cut of 37%?

    Q2 : If ministerial pay are pegged to the median of top 1,000 earners, then why there are a total of another 12 months variable pay for the ministers?

  8. Why can't they compare apple to apple?

    Why compare to top private sector earners when you can compare apple for apple with ministers of the world.

    Why must they be the highest paid in the world?

    Will Gerald Ee be brave and answer?

  9. The variable component looks more like a fixed component with the low target

  10. The logic of politicians’ remuneration:

    You propose a formula for your own salary and present the proposal to the parliament for approval. You and your cronies have total control of the parliament. You know your proposal is definitely passed without meaningful debate.

    You propose salary formula for you and your cronies to base on a group of top earners who are mostly from GLCs and your cronies' companies. You also know that your controlled parliament will pass your proposed formula. Next thing you do is to get GLCs and your cronies' companies to pay the chief very very well. As such, your and your cronies' salary will be increased accordingly.

    After the people object to your proposal, you appoint one of your cronies to review the proposal and he recommend a revised proposal that you and your cronies (not the people) are happy about it. Then you present the revised proposal to the parliament again for approval. You know that all your cronies in the parliament will support the revised proposal because the revised proposal is for their own good. The parliament is still dominant by your cronies and the revised proposal will be approved without any question. 

    After the revised salary proposal is done, one of your cronies can say she suffer pay cut by joining politics. She claimed she could earn much more in 'private' sector. Look at what 'private' sector she has worked before joining politics. She has worked for few GLCs before invited to join politics. Are GLCs really 'private' sector? If she is right, those GLCs must have paid her very very high salary. This proves that if you have raised the GLCs chief salary this will actually effect higher salary for you and your cronies. 

    By controlling the corruption at lower levels, foreigners who do not know the details of this system will believe that a pro-business governance system is free of corruption. Is the system really corruption-free?

    Based on the logic, it proves that the current system is very very clever to ‘legalize’ corruption at the highest level. If not, what is it?

    You may look at the logics of GRC, NCMP and NMP. It is not difficult to understand the ultimate motive behind a fake democratic ‘feudal dynasty’ politics in action in a modern world.

  11. Let the people have a say through a REFERENDUM.

    There is every reason for the people to decide. Many European countries hold referendum on vital issues like entry into the Euro system.

    Ministers' pay IS VITAL to Singaporeans as it strikes at the very heart of our MORALE and the leaders' MORAL.

    All in favour say, AYE!

  12. /// Now note that gloomy forecast of 2.5 falls nicely between 2% to 3%, the benchmark in the National Bonus Matrix that triggers a 50% bonus payout. ///

    The gloomy forecast is to make themselves look good. DBS and many of the local business leaders are looking at 3.5% growth. Hence it is almost certain that they will have 100% bonus payout.