Thursday, January 5, 2012
Still Greedy As Ever
Compare his (still) hefty slice of the public pie to:
US President Barack Obama - US$400,000 (pop. 311 million)
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy - US$300,277 (pop. 65 million)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel - US$246,750 (pop. 81 million)
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - US$36,200 (pop. 1.2 billion)
On top of the basic pay, Lee and his cabinet members will be helping themselves to a "National Bonus" of up to three months' pay if targets are met on economic growth, employment and improvement in Singaporeans' incomes. Those performance targets were never published before, and more akin to shifting goal posts that were moved to suit their bonus expectations of the occasion. The new published targets pile on the financial rewards if, for instance real median income growth rate exceeds 0.5%. But if real income growth is negative, the ministers are not made any poorer.
In 2008, when the world was bracing for the financial meltdown, ministers were actually paid S$1,924,300 (S$2,055,100 with pension), the highest ever in the period of 2001 - 2011. Now, that's gotta be obscene in any language, English, Chinese, Malay or Indian.
Under the benchmarks unveiled, the salary of an entry-level cabinet minister is set at 60 percent of the median income of the 1,000 highest-earning Singaporean citizens (the names of which will probably never be published, like the previous 48 anonymous professionals) which works out at S$1.1 million (still more than what President Obama makes). Which means people like Lui Tuck Yew will not be embarrassed when clinking cocktail glasses with businessmen (who work hard for their money). And if any of the businessmen in their index pool gets wiped out in the market, they will find another set of well to do high earners to boost the median income of the 1,000 highest-earning Singaporean citizens. This is the crux of the system corruption - the public servants are still demanding private sector pay without the same levels of accountability and responsibility. Shops are flooded, trains are stopped in the tracks, and they just keep on collecting the cash. They have a rigged formula, and would not relinquish it. The same shenanigans are going on with the formulae for electrical tariff hikes, HDB pricing, healthcare subsidies, etc.
So how serious is the ministerial salary review? Gerard Ee's comment on the exercise is telling: "I immediately think of some of my friends that (might be) potentially considered (for the ministerial junket). Would they say outright, 'Don't kid me, $1.1 million, don't come and kachau me.' "
Deep in their heart of hearts, public service was never in the equation. These folks just want their pals and cronies to join in the feeding frenzy. Just like the Mafioso.