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“A million dollars for a minister seems a lot when compared with the salary of a worker. But $34 million for all the ministers and political office-holders is a tiny drop compared with the increase in GDP that a good government can produce.”
This was how Mr Goh Chok Tong defended the ministerial salaries in 2000. Two factors – at least – are noteworthy here: the amount of the salary and the year that the statement was made.
More than 10 years ago, ministers were already paid $1 million. This came in for much criticism at that time which Mr Goh obviously felt compelled to defend.
Now in 2012, the Ministerial Salaries Review Committee recommends that the amount be reduced for junior ministers to $1.1 million which, as one would note, is still higher than the 2000 level. The more senior ministers get paid much more.
This is because in 2007 ministers approved a 27 percent hike in their salaries. The following year they accepted another 15 percent increase a jump of 42 percent in two years. During this period PM Lee took home an annual income of $3.8 million and ministers between $2-3 million.
This is the classic sales tactic. Jack up the price and then tell your customers that you are giving them a discount. This is the same strategem that the HDB and Restructured (public) Hospitals have been using on us all these decades. Prices and fees are first raised with the Government stepping in to announce that the payments will be subsidised. The upshot is that the state still comes away with a tidy profit.
Similarly, the Ministers raised their already astronomical pre-2007 salaries by 42 percent and then accepts a 37 percent cut. Not bad for a deal.
Now, Environment Minister of State Grace Fu implies that she and her colleagues have made a sacrfice and face hardship by accepting the recommended pay cut. She said on her Facebook page: “If the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for any one considering political office.”
Singaporeans cannot be fooled.