Singapore — Denise Phua called out Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh, after the latter questioned the relevance of the Community Development Council (CDC) and the “outrageous” salaries of mayors in Parliament.
There are currently five district mayors – Low Yen Ling (South West), Denise Phua (Central), Fahmi Aliman (South East), Alex Yam (North West) and Desmond Choo (North East).
Mayors are paid an annual salary of S$660,000, according to the White Paper on Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government published in 2012. They also receive an annual MP allowance of $192,500, not including bonuses.
Responding to Mr Singh’s comments, Ms Phua said that Mr Singh’s accusation “belittles” the CDCs and their partners.
She also explained that Mr Singh’s acceptance of the role of the Leader of Opposition was very much an exercise in trying to stay relevant: “Singaporeans too ask what the role of the Leader of Opposition in our Parliament is — under the circumstances that all nine of the elected Opposition MPs are from one single Opposition Party”.
“Do not politicise the good work of the CDCs and our partners,” Ms Phua called.
In her response, Ms Phua noted that the CDCs’ strength is their “relative agility and ability”, which helps them to respond and develop programmes in the district faster than a “bigger government machinery”.
Mr Singh clarified, saying that his comments were not meant as a personal indictment against the mayors or the programmes run by the CDCs. He suggested that perhaps these “worthy initiatives” could done by charities instead.
However, he pointed out that as the role of the CDCs were diminished over time, portioning out responsibilities to various ministries, the budget for CDCs went down as well.
Mr Singh then brought up whether it is viable for the role of the CDC mayor to be a full-time job.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday (Feb 24), Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh said that many Singaporeans are of the view that the salaries of Community Development Council (CDC) mayors are “outrageous”.
He added that this was mainly because they are not perceived to commensurate with the mayor’s roles and functions today. Mr Singh continued that Singaporeans are of the view that the CDCs’ functions can be carried out by other existing entities, or by ministries and statutory boards, including other organisations under the People’s Association.
“Yet others simply don’t know what the CDCs do”, he said. /TISG
Read related: Pritam Singh: Many Singaporeans feel CDC mayor salaries of S$660,000 annually are “outrageous”
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