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Dignified Pay

This has been published in ToC  – the onlinecitizen.


Am keeping an archive of my articles here.


There is much discussion regarding ministerial pay. Dr Lim’s comments
have now gone viral. This shows how much the elected populace of
Singapore care about this issue.

For a start, not many bought the” pay millions to ensure no
corruption” argument. To me, a man who requires million dollar salary
to keep from corruption is like a man who needs a harem to keep from
lust. Trust me, there is no satisfying such a corrupt man. I also have
enough faith in the integrity of my leaders that they will not be

Then there is the issue of speaking rights. Whether it was a
tongue-in-cheek comment, or a quote out of context or not, the
underlying suggestion is that more money, more talk. If this were
true, I have suddenly become the most undignified person in my family,
for even my youngest is earning some money since she is on internship,
and I have no income whatsoever. Just joking. Jokes aside however,
when our retired MM Lee called himself a “kept man”, earning much less
than his late wife, did he lose his authority or command? Speaking
rights is based on much more than income – think Mother Teresa,

As for concern about providing for family and maintenance of lifestyle
– just as a summary of my own thoughts on this issue – it
will bring shame to a wealthy nation like Singapore if we paid our
parliamentarians so little that they can only manage hawker centre
meals. Just like our country can now hold her head high, we do not
expect our leaders to hang their heads low, because they cannot make
ends meet. But this task I am confident Mr Gerard Ee will address
fairly and await his report.

Fiinally I do want to mention a lack of dignity. A man feels that he
has no dignity when his wages do not give him enough to cover the
basic needs for himself and his dependents. We are talking enough to
keep bellies warm and basic living quarters. That too disgraces our
country. When I read about the million dollar payouts to CEOs, which
yardstick was used to calculate our ministerial salaries, I am
angered. Where some companies can pay their directors and CEOs
astronomical bonuses, how much of this profit was the result of the
blood and sweat of the staff at the bottom of the hierarchy, who
barely earn enough to keep body and soul together. Spare them a
thought even as we enjoy the prosperity of our nation.

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