International publication Bloomberg has covered Ho Ching’s defense of her husband, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s hefty seven-figure salary on social media.
Yesterday, Mdm Ho shared an article by Seedly.com on her personal Facebook page. The article pointed out that PM Lee is the world’s highest paid political leader, earning an annual sum of S$2.2 million a year, and attempted to deconstruct why he is paid so highly.
Sharing the article on her Facebook wall, Mdm Ho commented that although she has “no view one way or other about who deserves what,” she does have a view on comparison charts that compare her husband’s high salary to the pay earned by other world leaders.
Mdm Ho defended: “One big difference is the clean wage system in SG – ie no other perks in kind, and no pensions or other benefits after leaving office in SG, while most if not all other countries would have many other perks during term of office, like butlers and hairdressers, free flights on national airlines, even family holidays, etc; and quite a number like the USA would include perks after end of term of office.”
Asserting that those in public service or social service must have the right heart, passion, commitment, wisdom, knowledge foresight and capabilities, Mdm Ho declared: “Having these qualities of excellence, we must not take advantage of them to underpay, or require them to wear hair suits for a show of sainthood.”
Covering Mdm Ho’s defense of her husband’s salary package, Bloomberg noted that PM Lee’s pay “was such fodder for speculation that the government dedicated a webpage on the subject in September 2018, which said Lee doesn’t get a performance bonus.”
Bloomberg pointed out the Government’s stance that high ministerial pay deters corruption and helps attract talent into politics. Over the weekend, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong lamented that it is increasingly difficult to attract good people to join politics.
A year ago, Mr Goh had asserted that ministers “are not paid enough” and that their million dollar salaries should not be slashed since high pay would purportedly attract talent into politics.
His comments drew intense backlash from Singaporeans who felt that political office-holders are paid too much while ordinary Singaporeans struggle to grapple with the ever-increasing cost of living.
Complaints over high ministerial salary from the ground and the watershed 2011 General Election, that saw the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) garner its lowest-ever vote share, caused the Government to reconsider the rising pay package for political office-holders ahead of the 2015 General Election.
Bloomberg pointed out that the Singapore Government “cut the salaries after voter unhappiness over a widening income gap weakened support for the ruling party in the 2011 elections and said last year that its ministers won’t be getting a raise anytime soon.”
Despite this, calls for higher ministerial salary continue to resound each time the Government announces increasing prices and rising taxes. The Government, meanwhile, continues to assert that the high pay is necessary to retain “good people” in politics. -/TISG
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