Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Minsters Pay Rise Piss Off Singaporeans

9:47 AM By Barry Smyth , No comments

The salary of the prime minister of Singapore is more than three times that of U.S. President George Bush and about four times that of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But that is not enough. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong may soon be getting a hefty pay rise as part of a controversial ministerial salary hike that has infuriated many Singaporeans.

Lee, who is estimated to earn about S$2 million (US$1.32 million) per year, said last month that the salaries of Singapore ministers, top public officials and judges have fallen way below benchmark private sector salaries and may need to be doubled. "It is critical for us to keep these salaries competitive, so as to be able to bring in a continuing flow of able and successful people," Lee said in a speech in March. Lee said that Singapore ministers, who currently earn about S$1.2 million (US$800,000) a year, should be earning S$2.2 million (US$1.45 million). Details of the new ministerial salaries will be announced in parliament on April 9.

Since 1994, the salaries of Singapore ministers have been set at two-thirds the median pay of the 48 best-paid bankers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and executives in multi-nationals and manufacturing firms. But the latest salary hike, which comes at a time when income disparity in Singapore is wider than ever, has sparked an outpour of unusually blunt criticism from Singaporeans. What irks Singapore's opposition parties is that the million-dollar salaries are only accessible to members of Lee's ruling People's Action Party (how strange I hear you mumble)

Lee Kuan Yew -- modern Singapore's first prime minister, who is still the leading voice in his son's cabinet (read into that what you will) stated that it is "absurd" for Singaporeans to quarrel about ministerial pay and warning that Singapore would suffer if the government could not pay competitive salaries. "Your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries," he said.

I wonder if that ranks as the most stupid thing he has ever said?

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