Ministers should repudiate Grace Fu’s remarks

January 6, 2012
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

“To build a country, you need passion. If you just do your sums – plus, minuses, credit, debit – you are a washout!” So declared Mr Lee Kuan Yew in his National Day Rally speech in 1989.

Enter Ms Grace Fu. The Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources made her disappointment public over the 37-percent pay cut that she and her colleagues will be taking following the recommendations made by the Committee for Ministerial Salary Review. Here’s what she said:

When I made the decision to join politics in 2006…I had some ground to believe that my family would not suffer a drastic change in the standard of living even though I experienced a drop in my income. So it is with this recent pay cut. If the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for any one considering political office.

The simple, and obviously heartfelt, admission posted on her Facebook has drawn a raging backlash. And no wonder. The statement was tone-deaf, at best, and utterly contemptuous of those she’s suppose to serve, at worst.

Consider these:

The poorest segment of our society has seen their incomes stagnate for the past 10 years.

Singaporeans on the whole have had to suffer unemployment and underemployment because they are made to compete unfairly with foreign workers brought in by the Government. It was reported yesterday that an engineering graduate with an honours degree no less, had to resort to scavenging rubbish dumps for a living.

And even before things can get better, we are already warned that 2012 is going to be bleak. Manufacturing output has tumbled for a straight six months.

Our MRT system is breaking down with disconcerting regularity and every time it rains heavily, we brace ourselves for another flood.

What about the Mas Selamat embarrassing walkout, the MRT depot break-in, and the loss of billions of dollars by our sovereign wealth funds?

Just how does Ms Fu figure that she and her cabinet colleagues should command such stellar salaries? According to the Minister, people of her ilk will be more reluctant to serve the country if their salaries fall below $100,000 a month. It was about $150,000 before the cut.

Isn’t this sad? Ms Fu makes it sound like it’s a real sacrifice that she earns $100,000 instead of $150,000 a month. What really is need and what is greed?

The other ministers should repudiate Ms Fu’s remarks because her words seem to imply that they feel the same way. If her colleagues in the cabinet remain quiet, it will reinforce the outlook that they are all simply doing their pluses, minuses, credits and debits.

What did Lee Kuan Yew call such people again?