Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Joys Of Public Service

Why are the salaries of public servants not made more public? That must be the question on every body's mind when Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, concurrently the the Minister in charge of the Civil Service,  sailed forth on the latest revelations about how the top dogs in the civil service are compensated for their sacrifices.

Teo would only divulge that the pension system is about to be replaced with a long-term retention package effective July 1. And all the while we thought the Ministerial Salary Review Committee (MSRC) headed by Gerard Ee in 2012 had already done away with this boondoggle. The Attorney-General, Auditor-General and the chairman of the Public Service Commission even have a special deal, something called a "gratuity plan". This is not to be confused with the alleged gratification derived by certain top civil servants in SCDF and CNB in parked automobiles. The water gets murkier when Teo said the retention and gratuity plan are "in line with talent retention practices in the private sector and parts of the public sector".  Is he referring to sign-on bonuses and golden parachutes? Without detailed inputs, one's imagination can only run wild.

We also get to know that although the MSRC had done away with the GDP bonus in the 2012 recommendations, members of the "elite Administrative Service" were still enjoying the perk. It suddenly makes sense why the statistics are adjusted each time we are supposed to be heading for a technical recession.  There's money to be made from them charts.

Teo claims that "The most important motivation for a person to stay in the public service is that he gets happiness out of other people's happiness". He must be referring to Goh Chok Tong's thesis of "net happiness", as there must be lots of unhappy people out there when they find out how the pockets are lined.

One last question from a curious mind: When Yam Ah Mee retired again (he first retired as Brigadier-General to join the Civil Service in 1998) to be the Managing Director of Sembcorp Design and Construction on April 16, is he entitled to full pension from the Civil Service? What do you think?

36 comments:

  1. These monetary perks for Civil Servants - the top ones in key appointments, are reward for being PAP lapdogs. Removal or reduction of these perks is to treat their in-group PAP kakis badly. In fact, some of these appointments include the PAP members themselves.

    The management of Singapore is like a gigantic groupthink effect - essentially an oligarchy.

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  2. Leegalised corruption my dear Watson

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  3. As one of them pointed out, " I Not Stupid!"...

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    1. Money no enough - even after getting millions....

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  4. Regarding the last para, he is still entitled to the pension as he retired before the change takes effect on 1 July 2013.

    He would have enjoyed 2 pensions --- when retired from SAF, and now when retired from civil service.

    For the SAF one, most pensioners will opt for lump sum, as generals will be getting lump sum of at least $2M.

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  5. So he retired from BG to take up PA post. Then 'retire' early again to go into private sector, thus receiving a full salary and generous pension at the same time. And he has rinse, lather, wash 3 times over. In layman terms, is called "Double Dipping". In his terms, "Triple dipping".

    Another potential abuse is "Pension Spiking". The civil servants can artificially inflate their pension earnings by pulling strings to get themselves big raises in their final year of work, thus engineering a x% of raise for himself soon before he retired, which has the effect of pushing his annual pension to higher (x% of his last salary..can't recall what it was revealed in the last revision).

    I think TCH owes more transparency and explanations to taxpayers on why we should accept their semantics change. What really has changed other than the bonus component?

    " There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.” - Joseph Pulitzer

    Plenty of secrecy we have with this PAP govt.

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  6. We should have an impartial committee to review the Civil Service Salaries, esp. those of the Administrative Services. It is ridiculous that a young, fresh, inexperienced AO starts at a minimum of $320,000 per year. And other higher AOs can get as much as $1 million salary a year. In the past they could get as much as 12 months or more of bonus.
    If you are familiar with the Civil Service, you would know that most of these AOs are overated and overpaid. Most of them do nothing much. Look at the mess Singapore is in - transport; low labour productivity; low indigenous Singapore industry; low median salary of Singaporeans; low population growth despite ther policies of those in the Population Unit; poor integration of foreigners; unfair replacement of Singaporean PMETS; etc.
    The AOs are not as intelligent or economically savvy as the average Singapore above average graduate. For this kind of out of the world salaries they are getting, we should replace them with FT.

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    1. Oh yes, and there are many senior AOs still holding on to their postions without retiring.

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    2. Just wonder, with the supposed reduction in salaries of the Ministers, how many months total bonus they get for 2012? The same for the Admin Officers? Does anyone have the figures?

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  7. What do I think ?
    I thought the WP MPs should have asked ALl the questions mentioned, and maybe more !

    Maybe, they are giving the NCMP Lina Chiam a chance to ask instead, no ?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, disappointed that the opposition MPs are silent on such an important topic

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    2. What do you expect to do ...they are also joining the benefits lah..

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  8. You forgot, they just promoted a new bumper crop of 90 new AOs last month and they now total 500 strong! Even before the latest promotion (remember Grace Fu's make-up promotion after the salary adjustment last year?), there were so many of them a whole bunch had to be seconded to the CDSs! You can all dig out the ST report on the promotion and identity of the particular AO seconded to a CDC, just imagine, $500k and cho bo lan, giving advice to CDCs. And when they travel to retreats with the CDCs, they fly solitaire class! SIA would be thankful, but I am sure you won;t be happy. What di yiu think Ah Teo?

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  9. To them, best paid is the best orgasm. They don't care how private sector employees struggle and not all CEOs are paid so obscenely as our public servant. If we face deficit, it is not about bad economy but extravagant perks this govt is giving to themselves. Everytime when Teo Chee Hean talk about how to pay themselves by how much, I cringed at the fact that they are actually raiding our reserves. So much self-given welfare while many Singaporeans are still trying to make ends meet.

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  10. $320k -- $1m pay for an AO?

    If they are getting paid as much as the pte sector, not the mention Obama and some presidents around the world, next time they push out any major policies that affect us, I expect them to put their names and faces and rationales, backed up by data/facts (not those quality from the WP) and they better be prepared to stand up to scrutiny! Coz in pte sector, executives are answerable to shareholders. The electorate should expect no less when they want to draw such high salary that comes with iron job security.

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  11. In Private Sector, a retention bonus is intended to entice key employees to stay during a merger or take-over. Otherwise is would be possible that the company would be crippled and no longer able to be functioning.

    Usually it states that if you stay until such and such a date you will receive a bonus of $XX. If after that date they decide your position is redundant and they lay you off, that you are entitled to severance pay of $YY.

    So what exactly does TCH mean by retention package and for what purpose? Is he anticipating a change in govt, thus continuity? How does this continuity correspond with accountability? I don't recall AIM software has such an arrangement, thus the saga.

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  12. If their salary & other benefits in kind already sums up to 6 or 7 figures, why are they still entitled to bonuses ?

    Why has this generation of PAP leaders turned out to be so greedy ?

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    1. LKY was asked by Mr Shotaro Yachi (former vice-minister of Japanese Foreign Ministry) in a 45min dialogue in Tokyo why his country has had six prime ministers in the past five years. In contrast, Singapore has been led by three in 47yrs.

      Mr LKY replied: "We have very carefully selected our successors, allowed them to work with us for long years before they take over so they understand the intricacies of how to govern Singapore and at the same time maintain high standards of honesty and devotion to duty".

      But pointing out that this may not go on forever, he added: "I hope that successive leaders will bring in carefully selected people who have got the potential to do more than something for themselves". [ST;25 May 2012; pg A5]

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  13. "The most important motivation for a person to stay in the public service is that he gets happiness out of other people's happiness".

    I read somewhere that Singaporeans are the most unhappy people in the world. How's that so?

    Gahmen keep AO salaries high for 2 reasons.
    1) AOs play golf with ministers. They dare not play golf with opposition people. They think opposition people are lepers.
    2) Ministers' salaries are pegged to Civil Service. Therefore, if they want their own salaries to be high, the CS pay must also be high.

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    Replies
    1. bingo bingo, roger roger, now why didn't the ST report on that point no 2, but u r right on :)

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  14. i feeling so honoured ... i received my gratuity more than twenty years ago before these talents

    okay, i better confess .... a pittance amount of less than $20k TAXABLE ... :-(

    of course .... they will be feeling happy just looking at pro-forma computation now :-)

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  15. Why you bother to know how much are public servants paid?

    Why don't you just tell your children to study hard, or study hard yourself, and apply for the job ?? If you fit the requirements, I m sure they will invite you for a interview. And if you show leadership ability and prove yourself on the job, you will be promoted and soon occupy the post and you are so curious about how much it is paid.

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    1. Spoken like a true unrepentant PAPig.

      Just follow the Lee system of government.
      Don't question the system itself.

      And that's why we have MRT trains breaking down.
      Which is just one example of a bigger problem.

      If we want to change government policies.
      First, we have to change the government by voting Opposition.

      Delete
  16. You speak like a true OpPig bootlicker polishing LTK boots every morning while he gives you his remainder nasi lemak.

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    1. I think you are confusing LTK with LKY.

      And you are confusing me with your LKY bootlicking friends.

      "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

      Delete
  17. That's why I don't understand the envious and jealousy here, that civil servants are paid so much. Civil servants jobs are open to all eligible Singaporeans, our country don't work on the caste system in India or Bumi policy in Malaysia. If you are good, you can apply for the job. You get the job, work hard, perform well, show leadership, show some EQ to the correct boss and you get your promotion.

    You could be the one earning the high salary.

    You want to change policy. Fine. Get in from the inside, understand the constraints, understand the problems, the rationale, the trade offs, and then work out a solution.

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    1. The system you just described is a meritocracy.

      But Singapore is a PAPpytocracy.
      If you are not a PAPig.
      Your father is not a PAPig.
      Then you are just a digit.

      In order to succeed, first you must join PAPigs as a card carrying member of the Pro Alien Party?
      Then maybe you get access to all the goodies via $2 companies?
      Is this true?
      Or is this just a lie?

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    2. You have been brain-washed by this meritocracy crap. It's a cover for their cronyism, nepotism and elitist policies, not much different from a caste system or bumi affirmative policies. Jump on the party bandwagon, and go with the flow, if you want to get ahead.

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    3. You sure everyone can apply? How do they define "merit"? You "married" the right person?

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    4. We have the right to know and question as citizens and stakeholders of the Singapore since we are talking about taxpayers' money. Also as good citizens we should be concerned about our country.

      It is one thing to say that the AOs are doing no doubt an important job, but another to pay oneself a sky high salary that is higher than the USA or any other countries' Ministers' salaries. Look at a Nordic country, Denmark, as an example. Their Ministers are earning about $240,000 per annum sans our AOs high annual bonus. Surely we are not saying the Danish Ministers' job is not as complex or challenging as our AO's entry level grades?

      Not to forget that the majority of the Singaporeans are doing a very back breaking job and earning only about $2,500 per month. They are also working very hard for the good of our nation.

      It is naive to think that the AOs jobs are so many times more difficult or complex to earn that humongous number of times of our average citizens.

      Delete
  18. //If you are good, you can apply for the job.//
    Can anyone apply for the prime minister's job?

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    1. For that matter, can anyone apply for the PM's wife's job? The last time someone applied, he was booted out without even knowing what has happened.

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    2. "You want to change policy. Fine. Get in from the inside, understand the constraints, understand the problems, the rationale, the trade offs, and then work out a solution."

      Why?
      Why must I get in from the inside?
      This is a democracy.
      You are supposed to be transparent and explain the policies to the citizens.

      What's the rationale for the high salary anyway?
      To buy the civil servant's compliance and subservience?

      Delete
  19. SEAB is linked to Piaget Academy of Indonesia .... connected to Pentel Grp/Wong Kwei Cheong?

    http://app.sgdi.gov.sg/listing.asp?agency_subtype=dept&agency_id=0000001497

    http://sna.sch.id/board-of-governors/

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  20. How come they can just anyhow change public policies? Can they also shorten the lease on the hdb flats? Next GE, choose your master properly not blindly.

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  21. I will choose the master who can give me cheap HDB and after that the price chiong up after I get it, cheap COEs, no traffic jams on the roads, high salary for myself, low salary for Civil Servants, efficient and honest and transparent public service, earn big bucks. Huat ah!

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