The Truth About Ministers’ Pay

As a matter of transparency and public interest, cabinet ministers are duty-bound to declare their incomes and assets. The Singapore Democrats have been calling, and do so again here, for the Government to make public such information. Unfortunately the demands have met with silence that a cemetery would be proud of.

In 1994, ministerial salaries were amended. They were calculated based on a formula that pegged with the ministers’ pay to the highest paid professions in the country.

This means that no matter how badly the economy performs and the wage level of the general population sinks, the ministers will be paid the highest salaries in the island as long as the richest few in the country continue to make their big bucks. This, of course, tempts our political leaders into concentrating on taking care of the richest of the rich instead of ensuring that the welfare of the masses are well looked after.

Such is already the trend as the Government relentlessly drums into our heads that the widening income disparity is inevitable because of this thing called global economy. This will enable the ministers to say that it is no fault of theirs that their salaries are so obscenely high while the rest of us (people they are elected to look after) scramble for the crumbs that fall off their table.

And there is nothing inevitable about the widening chasm between the rich and the poor. This is just the rich man’s excuse to tell the working people that they are going to get richer and greedier, and the rest of us are going to have to accept the fact that we will have to work harder and become poorer.

Such reasoning has resulted in PAP ministers being the highest paid politicians in the world with the Prime Minister being paid three times more than the president of the United States while the Singaporeans continue to see their incomes being pulverised. Bankruptcies multiply and the increase in the number of homeless continue unabated. Social and family problems such as divorces, mental breakdowns, and suicides skyrocket as a result.

This trend must not be allowed to continue and the only people that can stop this is Singaporeans themselves.

Below is a comparison of salaries of Singapore’s ministers with those of their counterparts in other countries:

Annual salaries of heads of government:

1. Singapore Prime Minister US$1,100,000 (S$1,958,000) a year

2. United States of America President: US$200,000

3. United Kingdom Prime Minister: US$170,556

4. Australia Prime Minister: US$137,060

Annual salaries of heads of government:

1. Singapore Minister: US$819,124

2. UK Minister: US$146,299

3. US Cabinet Secretary: US$157,000

(Source: Asian Wall Street Journal 10 Jul 2000)

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