George Yeo: Minister salaries has secret component

August 14, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

In the latest round of exchanges, between Dr Chee Soon Juan and Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo, Mr Yeo still would not reveal how much he is paid, saying that there is a discretionary component in the ministers’ salaries that is “confidential”. Dr Chee asks why this component – which makes up nearly half of the salary – should be kept secret. 

Dear Dr Chee

Ministers salaries are in the public domain, reported in our newspapers and available in Parliamentary reports. Please contact [email protected] if you want details. The salary ranges include a discretionary component decided by the PM which is confidential.

On minimum wages, the question is one of balance. There is an optimal degree of protection which I tried to explain.

I broke bond in 1988 to enter politics and had to pay liquidated damages. Every case shd be assessed on its own merits.

George

 

Dear George,

First you say that ministers’ salaries are in the public domain. Then you say that there is a discretionary component that is confidential. However you put it, the bottom-line is that ministers’ salaries are secret. I don’t understand why you keep insisting that they are in the public domain.

Just so that readers are clear: This discretionary component decided by the PM is not small – it makes up nearly half of each minister’s salary.

This is where it infuriates Singaporeans. There are areas of governance which we can accept as necessary to keep confidential eg. sensitive issues of national defence. But why should your salary be kept a secret?

If Hillary Clinton, a US secretary of state no less, can make her pay a matter of public knowledge, what is it that you do that makes you so different from her?

I repeat that Singaporeans are not unreasonable, they can accept a robust explanation. Can you please tell readers why the discretionary component of your salary needs to be secret?

On Minimum Wage, I agree that it is one of balance – I wrote that in my previous email. I am saying that as you and the rich in Singapore can afford opulent lifestyles (didn’t a top civil servant recently travel to Paris just to attend cooking lessons?), our working poor can’t survive on their salaries – many end up committing suicide as a result.

There is not a balance.

Still on Minimum Wage, you say there is an optimal degree of protection. I know. For the rich. Singaporeans are asking for protection for the poor.

As for you breaking your bond, you said that each case should be assessed on its own merits. Can you tell readers why yours was different from the others?

Soon Juan