Ong Ye Kung’s stance on parking in schools reflect everything wrong with 4G leadership

Letter to the Editor


Defending his Ministry’s policy to impose parking charges for teachers, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung said that the decision has to do with “self-discipline”.

Earlier, an AGO report said that free parking for teachers is akin to a hidden subsidy that contravenes the “clean wage policy” set by the public service division. The clean wage policy makes it a point to make sure that salaries are all accounted for and there are no hidden perks.

Making reference to the AGO report, the 4G Minister said that the government has to “respect our internal system of checks and balances” and “cannot pick and choose which finding to address or comply with – we take them all seriously”.

For someone who has some experience working with Government-linked companies, it is surprising that the Minister would not know how to deal with an audit report.

In the corporate world, there are numerous instances where management disagree with the findings of their auditors and would defend their decision in the audit response. The final decision would then be decided by the audit committee.

Should his ministry not have to bring this up to the President or Prime Minister for them to decide on this issue? Shouldn’t there be more comprehensive consultation on this matter, given the backlash it has produced?

A good benchmark that the government could adopt would be to look at what is fair, reasonable and in line with international standards. For example, schools the UK have the right to decide on whether they wish to charge teachers for parking or not.

Otherwise, where does one draw the line? Should teachers be expected to pay for coffee in the pantry because that similarly accounts for hidden perks that is not accounted for in their wages?

Even former NMP Calvin Cheng – who has been known to be supportive of PAP policies – seems to disagree with Minister Ong.

In a Facebook post, Cheng offered the notion that if “parking was already free and there [was] no monetary value to [it]” then this “cannot be counted as a perk and a contravention of the clean-wage policy”.

Others were less convinced and labelled this as weak leadership, with one user commenting on the Minster’s Facebook post that his defence was downright lame.

The user wrote: “AGO is not a political office. Yours is. The difference is factual vs contextual. AGO does not balance pros and cons. Political leaders must. Why take the lead from AGO instead of leading? Lame excuse for wrong decision”.

Just last week, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat did say that the 4G leaders with listen to the people “with humility and respect”. Less than a week later, the Education Minister has proven this wrong with his line of reasoning. Surely – given the sentiments from the people – the minister cannot claimed to have listened?

It is clearly disappointing that he has neither listened to the ground with humility nor acted with the slightest bit of common sense.

Pachaimuthu Ali

The views expressed in this piece do not represent the views of the editorial.


    • Absolutely agree. After this news report from CNA and another one concerning discussion around free lunch with PSLE/education I’d think these people haven’t lost all their senses but don’t have one to begin with.

    • Absolutely agree. After this news report and another one concerning discussion around free lunch with PSLE and education I’d think these people haven’t lost all their senses but don’t have one to begin with.

  1. Was there checks and balances when the AGO pointed out the government spent over 300k on consultation to built a rubbish collection centre? They merely explained it was very complicated to built hence such high consultation fee.
    Please pay for your own parking before judging others on a moral high ground.

  2. Across the causeway people voted for a leader who is correcting the mistakes of previous administration. Here we have 4G leaders who can’t even make simple decision correctly. Yah we Sporeans need to have self discipline in election, simply should not vote for yes men.

  3. This one cannot make it, , I’m sure, what did Mr. Heng said listen to your people!!
    Let’s go back to basics, as a parent you keep telling ur children to this and that, what will be reaction, will definitely go against your commands request and will retaliated d parents …so you see the end results. Do your survey and see if feasible.

  4. Like he cares. He’s got his Fat Cheque every month, he drives to work and gets all the perks and subsidies. Probably has 2-3!cars Wife drives one he drives another. Comes out with nonsensical polices. I can’t wait for the Next GE to come.

  5. Parking fees are imposed to control demand by pricing such as in a town centre where demand is higher than supply. But in schools and army camps supply is much much higher than demand. So cannot fathom the rationale to charge other than the government wants more money rather than more welfare for their staff. How is the government expect their men to slog for them through thick and thin. I for one will throw in the towel if the going gets tough.

  6. They are paid highly not to think? Or is it easier to agree than to think out of the box to defend your “staff” interest??? Such is the quality of back-door entry politicians via GRC, who does not have to fight on their own to win elections. Just agree will do!

  7. How about compensating teachers when they have to bring work home to mark or prepare lessons outside of working hours? How about teachers who have to stay back late for CCAs? If we are being so calculative, then the system must also be disciplined enough NOT to disturb teachers beyond office hours. Can that be done?

    • They will only listen when it becomes 50%-49.9%. Just bring in more competition, take grab for example , now monopoly liao I hardly see any promo code liao, most likely they will give once every 5 years before election with tagline like vote for your fav ministers on a ride !