Singapore—The allowance to be given to the Workers’ Party leader Pritam Singh as the official Leader of the Opposition has caused a stir online these past few days, along with, of course, the announcement that Mr Pritam will be donating “50 percent of the LO salary, after taxes” to charitable endeavours and party causes.
Mr Pritam said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Jul 28) that half his salary would go to assisting low-income residents in Hougang SMC, Aljunied GRC and Sengkang GRC, community programmes in these areas, charitable or worthy causes, and the Workers’ Party (WP) specific needs.
And while thousands of Singaporeans took to Mr Pritam’s Facebook wall to thank him for his generosity, this announcement caused somewhat of a backlash online as well, with critics such as former Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng saying it was “a sad day for Singapore politics…that a politician sees the need to have his family make a sacrifice to make a political point and to publicly tell everyone, in order to participate in political theatre.”
The most pointed comment seemed to come from Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who wrote in a Facebook post that, “There are lots of folks who donated and continue to donate quietly, without making any public announcement….But of course, not all are angels.”
One netizen took to Facebook in reaction to Madam Ho, listing down the salaries and allowances of the new appointees from the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), all of whom will be receiving amounts greater than Mr Pritam, who, after all, has been labouring within Singapore’s opposition within the past nine years.
Netizen Goh Rayson wrote, “Seriously, why is HC (Ho Ching) making so much noise? In Pritam’s case, it’s not a typical one-off donation that one just donate quietly. He, as a newly appointed opposition leader, was given extra allowance (MP $192.5k + LO $192.5k = total $385k) and he was just updating people on what he plans to do with it.
That’s accountability … something that the PAP will never understand but will resort to character assassination and bringing out their past donations for comparison, that’s low class and unwarranted. Why didn’t they compare the 6 new appointments who will be paid between $418k and $1.1m? Any of them donated to the needy? Be fair, be transparent, stop gutter politics.”
Mr Goh posted a photo of the seven new appointees, along with the amounts they will be receiving, which are as follows.
Dr Tan See Leng, who will take on three portfolios: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Second Minister for Manpower, and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, will receive S$1.1 million per year.
Former brigadier-general Gan Siow Huang, Minister of State for Education and Manpower, will receive S$770,000 per year.
Desmond Tan,Minister of State for Home Affairs, and Sustainability and Environment, will also receive S$770,000 per year.
Tan Kiat How, Minister of State for the PMO and National Development, will also receive S$770,000 per year.
Eric Chua, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), and the Ministry of Social and Family Development; and Rahayu Mahzam, Parliamentary Secretary for health, will each receive S$418,000 per year.
As the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Pritam will receive double the allowance of an elected MP and his annual package will be S$385,000, inclusive of his allowance as a Member of Parliament. He will be giving away half of his increase, a considerable sum of S$96,000 before taxes. -/TISG