Singapore—A recent profile on CNA about the daily life of MP Low Yen Ling (PAP-Chua Chu Kang GRC) brought about rather unexpected feedback, as commenters left questions about the roles, as well as the salaries, that the country’s mayors have.
Ms Low is the third-term Mayor of the South West District, as well as the Minister of State in the Ministry for Trade and Industry and the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth .
The article, entitled A day in the life of a mayor: Beyond public engagements, how CDCs work to serve the community was published on Wednesday (Nov 25). It showed that Ms Low has a busy schedule, visiting and holding activities at Lianhua Primary School in Bukit Batok, a Boon Lay Senior Activity Centre, two blocks of Bukit Batok flats, and finally, a community garden.
Of her role as a mayor, CNA quotes Ms Low as saying,“It’s like leading a middle office where crucial goals and plans are set to meet the needs on the frontline, and also having to ensure all the back-end processes are in place too.”
The other mayors in Singapore are Mr Desmond Choo (North East CDC), Ms Denise Phua (Central CDC), Mr Alex Yam (North West CDC) and Mr Fahmi Aliman (South East CDC).A mayor in Singapore earns S$660,000 annually.
The article also quotes Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who said in September that while mayors keep a “low profile,” they have important work especially during crises, since residents who don’t know where to look to for help can turn to CDCs.
PM Lee added, ”The CDC can then assist them or redirect them, and lift some of the burden of navigating the bureaucracy off them.”
However, some Singaporeans have questioned the need for mayors, given the country’s small size and population, and have said that their duties toward residents could also fall under the purview of MPs or even other government agencies.
Others professed confusion as to what mayors actually do.
Commenters also pointed to the current economic difficulties Singapore is facing because of the Covid-19 pandemic, suggesting that the allotment for mayors’ salaries could go toward those undergoing hard times.
One netizen even asked if Ms Low’s commitment to serve as a mayor would remain the same if she only received half of her salary.
Another netizen mentioned that mayors should be voted into office, and not merely selected and then appointed.