George Yeo doesn’t answer whether he deserves salary

August 12, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

In the previous exchange, Dr Chee Soon Juan asked Foreign Minister George Yeo what his salary was and whether he felt he deserved it. Mr Yeo did not want to answer the question but said that he had to borrow money to break his bond when he joined the PAP. The minister was an SAF scholar.

 

Dear Dr Chee

It is not for me to judge myself. When I entered politics, I had to borrow money to break bond. At Harvard Business School, I was recruited by investment banks and GIC but could not accept because I was under bond to the SAF. Salary scale of ministers’ salaries are published.

If you don’t mind, I rather not be moving on to other points at your pleasure.

George

 

Dear George,

I am sorry you chose not to answer my question. As I said, I was not trying to set you up or embarrass you. My question was a genuine attempt to try to understand why our ministers pay themselves so excessively.

It is a very vexing issue for Singaporeans. People are not unreasonable, if there is a good and sincere explanation, they will understand and accept it. But ministers don’t want to explain anything, you just want to ram it down our throats.

As for your salary, a quick search will reveal your American counterpart’s pay. Hillary Clinton’s salary is US$186,600 per year. But I can’t find yours even after an extended search. Why the reluctance to tell Singaporeans how much their Foreign Minister is paid?

I guess we’ll just have to let readers form their own opinions about why you choose not to answer these questions.

On the other points: I did not mean to be presumptuous in deciding when to discuss them. I just thought that for clarity’s sake, we could dwell on one point at a time. My apologies.

I was intrigued that whilst you were at MTI that you had considered introducing minimum wage but decided against it because, in your words, “Beyond a certain point, it will drive investors away.”

It is true that if workers are paid too much, that is, beyond what they are worth, the market will react and businesses will find it impossible to cope.

But just as workers can be paid too much, they can also be paid too little. Minimum Wage set at a reasonable level, after seeking the views of workers and employers, will ensure that the see-saw is balanced. The current situation protects the foreign investor while exploiting the local worker. This is not right.

And the solution to investors leaving is not to suppress wages but to allow an entrepreneurial class to build up in Singapore which the Government has failed to do. Local businesses can be enticed to stay on in Singapore through various tax regimes. This way we don’t have to depend on foreign investors that much.

By the way, did Lee Hsien Loong and Philip Yeo say anything about you breaking your bond? And being a bond-breaker yourself, did you defend the other bond-breakers who were criticised in Parliament?

Your resoponse again greatly appreciated.

Soon Juan