Friday, March 23, 2007

Poor politicians and civil servants

Hi friends,

I am sure all of us do not want our civil servants and political leaders to go hungry.

Or be tempted to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains like corrupt third world politicians that we hear about ad nauseum.

But no right-thinking person looking at the salary-scale of our ministers and civil servants will likely feel that they are hard done by.

If I am not wrong, our politicians get many times the salaries of first world politicians. The main argument for such astronomical remunerations has been that these American and European presidents and ministers get rewarded after they leave office. They even write books, give talks to rich audiences and get invited to sit on exotic company boards! Shocking!

I wonder if ex-Singapore politicians do any of the aforementioned after they leave office?

Cheers

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Addendum:

My rebutal to the YoungPAP's views on this policy (see below)- these comments were from my comments page

Hi youngpap,

It is regrettable that the PAP/government is not able to persuade the ablest and best to serve the people on the platform and basis of public service. Instead the only way to secure these loyalties is the time-honored method – Greed and the love of money! There is NO sacrifice unlike what we have been told.

Idealism in any form is dead and buried in Singapore and pragmatism and “looking after oneself” is the name of the game. If even the young people of the Youngpap cannot see the false dichotomies and fallacies in the govt’s logic, we the people of Singapore do not have much to look forward to when these young people go on to be our future leaders.

It is the realm of “groupthink” when you the YoungPAP all begin to believe that Singapore is unique, our leaders are unique and that they should be uniquely rewarded. That we are so vulnerable that to have an independent media would cause our collapse and that to have freedom of expression and other freedoms like freedom of association and assembly would lead to our inevitable demise. Ironically, I hope in time to come, when the young people of Singapore ( including you in the YoungPAP) see more of the world, you will realize that some values like fairness,equality, freedom are universal and we should not be afraid to have them.

There is much that is good and admirable in our system, but self-serving and selfish policies like this when our own political leaders use the system to reward themselves beyond reasonable limits is not one of them. I hope some in the YoungPAP will see the insanity in this and begin to form your own individual opinions of some of these unfair policies.

Dr.Huang
(end of rebutal)

YoungPaP's post on this issue

http://youngpapblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/bill-gatesgeorge-sorosmother-theresa.html

Bill Gates+George Soros+Mother Theresa - How Much $$

Posted by elaina olivia chong at 4:56 PM

Money is the proverbial carrot. No matter how many people put themselves on the moral high ground, Money still talks for most others. If you want to get a job done you can’t do well yourself, pay some one well to do it well. If you want to get a job superbly well done, pay superbly more. Similarly, if we want Singapore to stay on the “Best Of” world list for a lot of things, we jolly well got to pay top dollar for the best people who can keep us right up there.

I can’t see why some forumers in our local chatrooms are questioning Ministerial pay rises and pegging our Minister’s pay to those in other countries. Spore isn’t like many other economies like the States, Britain or even Hong Kong where their economies can still remain alive even if their politicians are not making the best decisions. Not only are these economies self sufficient, they have people resources - to the extent where Supply far Exceeds Demand for geniuses at the top.

In many of these first world nations (whose Ministers’ pays have been “pegged” to ours), their economic engines are matured and almost self-piloting. These governments have inherited the fruits of their political forefathers and are now able to concentrate on improving the social and non-economic welfares of its peoples and say, spend time to build international relations with countries like us.

This government put Singapore, a country with no resources, with no historical ties or allies to begin with, on the world map in less than half a century. But will this last forever?

It takes more than a few good men to make a tiny red dot like Singapore a shining star it is today. Not an easy feat, and is not a task that every man on the street can do. Only the very best in the 4-5million we have, can.

Everyday is a new challenge for Singapore to stay competitive and ahead of economies thousands of times our size. If Ministers at the top stop what their doing; or aren’t clever enough to devise policies to keep us ahead of the global league, our economy will crumble. There’s no two ways about it. Some one has got to do it and able to do it very well.

Today, we have the PAP with a number of good men. Will we have the same people tomorrow and always? I’m not sure. I find it rather myopic and sadly presumptuous for so many of these forumers to assume that Singapore is forever going to be where it is, and that we will forever have exceptional geniuses willing to throw their lives to keep Singapore on its feet.

How many of our capable Singaporeans are willing to turn away high paying expatriate positions overseas? And choose instead, to stay home in Singapore, hold arms to protect and ensure the economic comforts for our families and posterity?

One of the ways and I'm not saying it is the only way, is to pay for them and pay them very well . To help keep them in Singapore, attract them into civil service or the PAP where they will join the “economic militia” and keep the Singapore flag flying high for a very long time

The life of a Minister is not attractive. How many are willing to sacrifice every evening either at Meet the People Sessions, chairing Review Committees and carrying another baby in a HDB kopitiam even on precious weekends?

A platoon with the acumen of Bill Gates, risk appetite of George Soros and the heart of Mother Theresa, I would think. And the compensation? Priceless. Haven’t we all heard this all too often, “Pay Peanuts Get Monkeys".

All that matters to me is for Singapore to stay ahead of the game becuase I choose to stay here. We sorely need more than a few Good Men to continue serving at the top so that our economy will continue its bull run. With a flourishing economy, Ministerial pay increments will pale in comparison to the prosperities and fortunes Singapore will be able to bring to its people. Because then, the man on their street will get his pay raise too.

Changes to Civil Service salaries to be announced on April 9

Channelnewsasia Mar 22

Civil service salaries are set to go up and details of this will be announced in Parliament on the 9th of April.

The salary review will be explained by Mr Teo Chee Hean who is the Minister-in-Charge of Civil Service matters in the Prime Minister's Office.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Administrative Service dinner on Thursday.

In his speech, Mr Lee said the government is also reviewing salaries for the political, judicial and statutory appointment holders.

He added that it is critical for Singapore to keep their salaries competitive so that the country can bring in a continuing flow of able and successful people to be ministers and judges.

The Prime Minister arrived at the Administrative Dinner with a clear message for his audience.

He said Singapore's Administrative Service is the core of the public service as it plays a central role in bringing about first class governance for the country.

And for the public service to remain an attractive employer, it must keep pace with the private sector.

The Prime Minister noted that salaries in the private sector have been progressing, with many good and well-paying jobs created in the last two years.

And demand for Singaporeans is not just coming from the local economy.

Mr Lee said: "We know from head-hunters that the entire top managements of some of our agencies are being targeted. The Middle Eastern countries are particularly interested. They have studied Singapore's success story. They want to tap our people to join them and replicate the miracle, and money is no object.

"Even foreign workers who have worked in Singapore shipyards here are in demand in the Gulf. We even received a feeler from one Middle Eastern country to buy the whole of JTC! All this will have an impact on the Public Service."

Mr Lee explained that there are two private sector salary benchmarks for the Administrative Service.

The lowest Superscale grade is where officers in the early to mid-30s enter the senior ranks.

For this group, the benchmark has climbed again but not for the second benchmark which is for the most senior Permanent Secretaries.

For this senior group, the yardstick is based on two-thirds of the median income of the eight top-earning professionals in six professions.

The private sector benchmark now stands at $2.2 million.

But in the Administrative Service, the salaries for this category has remained the same as the level in the year 2000.

It stands at $1.21 million, which is 55 percent of the private sector salaries.

Mr Lee said: "This is an urgent problem. We have experienced on previous occasions the painful consequences of responding too slowly when the private sector surged ahead. For example in the early 1990s, the Administrative Service lost entire cohorts of good officers. This showed up in the age profile of the Service - broad at the young and older age groups, but narrow at the mid- to late-30s range. We took many years to recover from the loss. This must not happen again.

"This is why the government is currently reviewing Civil Service remuneration schemes. The review will cover the Administrative Service as well as other services that are lagging behind the private sector, because every service is important, and each must be able to attract and retain good people."

Mr Lee reminded the Administrative Service officers that what they do affect how Singaporeans work, live and play.

And if everyone does their job well, the result will be a Singapore that everyone can be proud of. - CNA/ch

Link:

1.Today - http://www.todayonline.com/pdflive/2303FPG003.pdf

2. Perpective of other countries' politicians' salaries (rana.typepad.com)

3.Onlinecitizen.com

4. David Marshall's thoughts about Public Service and Noblesse oblige

Some baffled bloggers below

5.http://cobaltpaladin.blogspot.com/2007/03/minister-pay-hike.html

6.http://zyberzitizen.wordpress.com/2007/03/26/mindboggling-numbers-mindboggling-salaries/

7.http://twostepsfromtwilight.wordpress.com/2007/03/25/cut-the-crap/

8.http://1moresg.wordpress.com/2007/03/25/a-man-like-that-is-hard-to-find-but-i-cant-get-him-off-my-mind/

9. http://xenoboysg.blogspot.com/2007/03/queer-sensibilities-of-singapores.html

10.http://mrwangsaysso.blogspot.com/2007/03/sweet-talking.html

11.http://www.yawningbread.org/arch_2007/yax-726.htm

115 comments:

the Stark in Winterfell said...

They are actually quite smart. Based on anecdotal evidence i must say civil service pay at the bottom is like ...nvm...but in the report they talk about how the upper scale has moved on. Btw one qn, who decides the pte sector salary to follow when coming up with the pay?

Anonymous said...

Do we really believe this out-of-this-world rationale which is really just self-serving rather than serving the nation? Only goes up and never goes down, even Corporate America would blush kekeke

Just look at the results of what's going on in this country since the currency crisis.

Dr Oz bloke said...

I was listening to the radio this morning. Hearing PM Lee Hsien Loong argue about why they have to raise the salaries of civil servants. How the private sector salaries have risen because the financial sector performed well etc....

Just a question, but when would the PM ever say that health care industry has done well?

What is done well in the healthcare sector? Earning more money? I don't think so right? Cos if that happens, then healthcare expenditure goes up and their GDP spending on healthcare goes up (which is a bad sign).

So how?

What is do well in healthcare sector?

No wonder healthcare sector never does well. No wonder healthcare professionals in healthcare sector so seldom get salary increases.

Sigh. No fun lah like that. Never get recognition and appreciation one.

Be banker make lots of money = do well.

Be doctor make lots of money = no good cos increased healthcare costs?

Anonymous said...

If you can believe him, you can believe pig can fly!

The best benchmark they can do is to compare the top civil servant to middle mgt in private sector. Even that is given them too much credit for what they are doing for Singaporean.

Dr Oz bloke said...

op earners in Singapore (headlines of TODAY)

Median salaries of the top eight earniers in 6 other professions
Lawyers $4.29m
Accountants $3.72m
Bankers $3.33m
MNCs $2.70m
Manufacturers $2.30m
Ministers $1.20m
Engineers $0.62m

Errr.....so there are no doctors ok. Can the people PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remember that next time they go saying "doctors earn a lot of money!" or "you better study hard and be doctor then next time can earn lots of money"

nofearSingapore said...

Hi all,
In order to get to the $2 mil /year that a respectable doctor that I deserve,
all my patients listen here-
Please add at least one zero to your bill henceforth!!
I will review after 1 month and maybe add two zeroes!!
End of announcement!

Dr.Huang

the Stark in Winterfell said...

The stats on lawyers are abit funny. Based on anecdotal evidence there are lawyers leaving the profession because of remuneration and working hours. This stats may confuse people into thinking that lawyers earn big bucks. Not every lawyer is a Davinder or Shanmugam.

Dr Oz bloke said...

Hi stark in winterfell,

Of course we don't think that all lawyers are like Davinder, but I am actually very surprised that the MEDIAN salary for lawyers is in excess of $4 million!!!

We're talking median salaries here. The median salaries of doctors aren't even in the top 8 professions on that list. I am sure there are doctors out there who earn more than $4 million a year. But the MEDIAN salaries for doctors is no where near that.

It goes to show how many lawyers out there are making big bucks versus how many doctors out there are making big bucks. And perhaps the "big bucks" we doctors think about is no where near the "big bucks" lawyers are talking about!

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Dr oz bloke:
Hold your horses and before you get too excited,the $4.29m is the average of the 4th and 5th top lawyers' gross.
It is possible as the income divide of top and bottom lawyers is very wide, hence your anecdote of lawyers who are not having eoungh work or not enough pay.

But the govt leaders have a good deal as their salary is pecked to the median of the top 48 top earners of the said 6 professions ( 8 from each). I am sure the engineers being outliers will be eliminated from the list soon!

If I can find the digital copy of ST's page H14 with the charts and tables, I will post it on the blog.

Dr.Huang

Dr Oz bloke said...

Why not peg to the top doctor's salaries then?

I understand it was written that those professions were chosen because the ministers could switch to professions in that field?

Well I didn't know that Lee Hsien Loong could be a lawyer if he wanted.

bellyache said...

This pay rise is to reward themselves and is not performance based like the private sector, which they unashamedly marked themselves against. Such automatic and unfettered increments just breed laziness and complacency in the civil service.
Its an inbreeding conspiracy for a good feel effect.It is not reward based on efficiency and hard work but for blind loyalty.

This is sadly a flawed system and it reflects the down slide that the Singapore Govt had gone, to muster support and to cover up its inadequacies.

Dr Oz bloke said...

Just to add one other point that I am surprised no one has brought up.

What about the BILLIONS of dollars the MINISTRY OF FINANCE has lost for Singapore? (Min of Finance is the owner of Temasek for the record)

How about that one? Lose BILLIONS of dollars and still can get pay rise?

The cheek of some people....

Dr Oz bloke said...

Just to clarify, the billions Temasek has lost on Shin Corp and its subsidiaries.

Dr Oz bloke said...

My gut feel is that the government is worried about the economy slowing down in line with the possibility of a global economy slowdown.

So they are trying to rush this pay rise through fast while things look good still.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi all
Actually I have no objections that ministers and civil servants be paid reasonably well but this is obscene.
The system for pegging to the 2/3 of the median of the top 8 of the chosen 6 professions is flawed.
Now they say that their recent salaries lagged beneath this magical figure of 2.? million.

It is like saying," after much deliberation, we decided that ministers should get 3/4 of Bill Gates salary ( including stock options and perks like executive jet)". Then 1 year later come back to us and say," Oh, our ministers have sacrificed so much, they are only getting 1/2 of Gates' pay...so we must adjust it back to 3/4).
We base our logic on a flawed reasoning.
This is the prerogative of the ruling party ( esply if they have overwhelming power)- make any law they like and NOONE can do anything about it.

Dr.Huang

Young PAP said...

http://youngpapblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/bill-gatesgeorge-sorosmother-theresa.html

Bill Gates+George Soros+Mother Theresa - How Much $$
Posted by elaina olivia chong at 4:56 PM

Money is the proverbial carrot. No matter how many people put themselves on the moral high ground, Money still talks for most others. If you want to get a job done you can’t do well yourself, pay some one well to do it well. If you want to get a job superbly well done, pay superbly more. Similarly, if we want Singapore to stay on the “Best Of” world list for a lot of things, we jolly well got to pay top dollar for the best people who can keep us right up there.

I can’t see why some forumers in our local chatrooms are questioning Ministerial pay rises and pegging our Minister’s pay to those in other countries. Spore isn’t like many other economies like the States, Britain or even Hong Kong where their economies can still remain alive even if their politicians are not making the best decisions. Not only are these economies self sufficient, they have people resources - to the extent where Supply far Exceeds Demand for geniuses at the top.

In many of these first world nations (whose Ministers’ pays have been “pegged” to ours), their economic engines are matured and almost self-piloting. These governments have inherited the fruits of their political forefathers and are now able to concentrate on improving the social and non-economic welfares of its peoples and say, spend time to build international relations with countries like us.

This government put Singapore, a country with no resources, with no historical ties or allies to begin with, on the world map in less than half a century. But will this last forever?

It takes more than a few good men to make a tiny red dot like Singapore a shining star it is today. Not an easy feat, and is not a task that every man on the street can do. Only the very best in the 4-5million we have, can.

Everyday is a new challenge for Singapore to stay competitive and ahead of economies thousands of times our size. If Ministers at the top stop what their doing; or aren’t clever enough to devise policies to keep us ahead of the global league, our economy will crumble. There’s no two ways about it. Some one has got to do it and able to do it very well.

Today, we have the PAP with a number of good men. Will we have the same people tomorrow and always? I’m not sure. I find it rather myopic and sadly presumptuous for so many of these forumers to assume that Singapore is forever going to be where it is, and that we will forever have exceptional geniuses willing to throw their lives to keep Singapore on its feet.

How many of our capable Singaporeans are willing to turn away high paying expatriate positions overseas? And choose instead, to stay home in Singapore, hold arms to protect and ensure the economic comforts for our families and posterity?

One of the ways and I'm not saying it is the only way, is to pay for them and pay them very well . To help keep them in Singapore, attract them into civil service or the PAP where they will join the “economic militia” and keep the Singapore flag flying high for a very long time


The life of a Minister is not attractive. How many are willing to sacrifice every evening either at Meet the People Sessions, chairing Review Committees and carrying another baby in a HDB kopitiam even on precious weekends?

A platoon with the acumen of Bill Gates, risk appetite of George Soros and the heart of Mother Theresa, I would think. And the compensation? Priceless. Haven’t we all heard this all too often, “Pay Peanuts Get Monkeys".

All that matters to me is for Singapore to stay ahead of the game becuase I choose to stay here. We sorely need more than a few Good Men to continue serving at the top so that our economy will continue its bull run. With a flourishing economy, Ministerial pay increments will pale in comparison to the prosperities and fortunes Singapore will be able to bring to its people. Because then, the man on their street will get his pay raise too.

chigada said...

Young PAP
"How many of our capable Singaporeans are willing to turn away high paying expatriate positions overseas? And choose instead, to stay home in Singapore, hold arms to protect and ensure the economic comforts for our families and posterity?"

If you have been seduced by your position and wallowing in all the bull, its your own doing as you obviously have not lived overseas and worked there at all, to give fair comment why people are leaving Singapore or the civil service.. Your arguments are not fresh insights but a sad recording from an old run down gramophone. Obviously, you are one of the young snotty and priggish elites being groomed to take over the reins to rule the ignorant masses.
Many don't leave because they are attracted by better pay and salary overseas, or they have had been head hunted.
On the contrary, they leave because they see no future in Singapore as you yourself had so poignantly said .They also leave because they perceive the leaders as not forthright and truthful. They see a Singapore anchored down by anachronism and cronyism instead, estranged from the vibes and pulses of the people. With travelling and the internet, Singaporeans can see and test out for themselves the validity of the claims made by the Ministers : “ global sense,FTs, competitions overseas, etc” and of course their salaries.
High salaries are perceived as an indication of a lack of sensitivity by the Govt to the poorer in the society and the pervasive high cost of living in Singapore.
Yes without doubt, Singapore owes much to what the leaders had done, but how is that tied to paying colossal salaries to retain these so called geniuses , when, countries like Israel, HK, Taiwan, South Korea, each with their own set of problems are doing just as well if not better without high paid geniuses at their helms.
How do you convince me and my male offsprings to die for a country if their commanders in chief are there not because they are loyalists and one with the people, but are mercenary moguls, who will leave their posts if the money is better elsewhere.
Sure, no one can ensure the well being of Singapore in the long run ,but this is the same for any country in the world, be it USA, Saudi Arabia or Timburkto .
Last but not least, many left for the less stifling and repressive ambience that other countries offer and which reward initiative, creativity, and enterprise. Others too leave for less strait jacketed educational , social and political systems.
Most do not leave because they have been offered million dollar deals elsewhere.
Which big Western corporation are looking to Singaporeans for their multimillion dollar CEOs. Please don’t patronize us just as your mentors are doing ad nauseum.

Anonymous said...

All I can say to this gang of rulers is "SHAME ON YOU". You glority yourselves as being the best there is in this country. You reward yourselves and help yourselves to tax-payers money. Your justification is that you are the best and you need to be paid the best in order to rule this country well. I.e. if we dont pay you the best money you will not do your best.

There is this thing called divine retribution. Go ahead and help yourselves to the money, but in the end you will pay a heavy price.Believe you me it will happen.

As for those groonies of yours like Young PAP who have swallowed the hook, line and sinker. Its time you wake up from your slumber.

Anonymous said...

Year 2007 can be summed up by 1 phrase.

GST Hike for S'poreans, Pay Hike for Millionaires Ministers.

Anonymous said...

The author, elaina olivia chong , is Vice Chairperson of Young PAP Woman ok!

Mai siao siao!


http://www.youngpap.org.sg/abt_ypw2.shtml

nofearSingapore said...

Hi youngpap,

It is regrettable that the PAP/government is not able to persuade the ablest and best to serve the people on the platform and basis of public service.

Instead the only way to secure these loyalties is the time-honored method – Greed and the love of money! There is NO sacrifice unlike what we have been told.

Idealism in any form is dead and buried in Singapore and pragmatism and “looking after oneself” is the name of the game. If even the young people of the Youngpap cannot see the false dichotomies and fallacies in the govt’s logic, we the people of Singapore do not have much to look forward to when these young people go on to be our future leaders.

It is the realm of “groupthink” when you the YoungPAP all begin to believe that Singapore is unique, our leaders are unique and that they should be uniquely rewarded. That we are so vulnerable that to have an independent media would cause our collapse and that to have freedom of expression and other freedoms like freedom of association and assembly would lead to our inevitable demise. Ironically, I hope in time to come, when the young people of Singapore ( including you in the YoungPAP) see more of the world, you will realize that some values like fairness,equality, freedom are universal and we should not be afraid to have them.

There is much that is good and admirable in our system, but self-serving and selfish policies like this when our own political leaders use the system to reward themselves beyond reasonable limits is not one of them. I hope some in the YoungPAP will see the insanity in this and begin to form your own individual opinions of some of these unfair policies.

Dr.Huang

Anonymous said...

If this is the best that a Vice Chair of the young PAP can come up with....then God help us...

Anonymous said...

We hv been in deep sh** ....
_____________________________
If this is the best that a Vice Chair of the young PAP can come up with....then God help us...

Anonymous said...

So much for the sacrifices made by our National Service Men - and reservist duties - yada yada yada - I am pissed! All these to protect the pay rises of the ministers (who have sacrificed one million per year for the past 7 years)and to persuade more of the foreign talent to come to a safe Singapore. Can you imagine if Sigaporeans disgree on the ground, what can we do? Revolt, impose martial law, and the reservists comes in? Like Kitana said - after the parliament debate, the media will still give a glowing account of how our ministers still fully deserves their pay rise.

Anonymous said...

I think all the THINKING PAP MPs should read Mr David Marshall's interview before the next parlaiment meeting.

recruit ong said...

The blog is a por lumpar blog lah.

Anonymous said...

The fact that our country can only attract to public service those who treat public service jobs as private sector jobs, and expected to be paid accordingly, means that we have failed miserably in our nation building.

Online Petition said...

Online petition. Even if it may not change the pay rise, it at least shows to the world how the *muzzled* Freedom of Speech and Right to Assembly has driven Singaporeans to clutch to their remaining freedom. Very 1st world indeed.

http://www.petitiononline.com
/paypap1/petition.html

Fox said...

In many of these first world nations (whose Ministers’ pays have been “pegged” to ours), their economic engines are matured and almost self-piloting. These governments have inherited the fruits of their political forefathers and are now able to concentrate on improving the social and non-economic welfares of its peoples and say, spend time to build international relations with countries like us.

This government put Singapore, a country with no resources, with no historical ties or allies to begin with, on the world map in less than half a century. But will this last forever?


Actually, since the end of WW2, Singapore has been amongst the top 3 in Asia, in terms of GDP per capita. Our economic prosperity started way before independence.

Anonymous said...

C'mon people, let's stop this hoopla and bitching over minister pay which smacks of nothing but envy.

It's quite simple. Pay peanuts and you get monkeys. Don't believe me? Get a clue. Even Mrs GCT claims that the 600K that TT Durai got was mere peanuts. So by logical extension 1.2 million is only cashew nuts.
This is unacceptable for our elites and political leaders. They deserve more, much more!

If truth be told, our ministers should be paid not 2/3 the median of the top 48 earners but at least TWICE the median. If it were up to me I will plumb for TEN times.

Why? It's very simple so pay attention people. Because if Shanmugam and Davinder could not make it to ministerial ranks then clearly the ministers are worth more than lawyers. You think?

So let's not begrudge these ministers their true worth and due.

Oh and stop comparing their pay to their US counterparts. With pay like that is it any wonder they got boy wonder and buffoon baby Bush? You want that Singaporeans? Seriously. Have you heard gormless Bush speak without a script? Too funny. If I were an American, I would die of sheer embarrassment.

So go back to your miserable lives and stop bitching and being envious of our Singaporean elites and top talent.

Our ministers rock!

Yours truly,
Tripod Cheerleader.

Dr Oz bloke said...

Wow.

Anonymous said...

For civil service pay to match private sector, it must offer service standards close to private sector and be willing to be held accountable if it lapses. There shd not be an iron rice bowl or mafia mentality where all in the service scratch each other's back. Or perhaps, more civil service work shd be privatised, to ensure even better standards and to justify the pay demands. I think the civil service is just one big mafia where nobody questions the transparency and workings, just don't make them an offer they cannot refuse

Dr Oz bloke said...

here's a question for the ones who support the policy of pegging the pay to that of the private sector.

Who can give evidence of all these so called ministers who have left the service and then been head hunted by the private sector and then making it to the top positions that their fellow minister's pay is being pegged to?

Who? I can only think of Lim Chee Onn. But then he is still working for a GLC and not really the true blue pte sector.

I am not really certain that the Ministers we have would really command those kinds of salaries in the pte sector. Seriously.

David Lim was in NOL and then left. Where is he now?

Where is Yeo Cheow Tong right now?

Is there really a track record that Ministers who have left are commanding salaries higher than what they were getting when they were in office?

Anonymous said...

I am a simple minded. I would want to get as many legal millions as I can before this red-dot turns into dark-red, the colour of blood which is de-oxy. Of course before the colour of this spore becomes dark, me and my millionaire party members would all be in a 1st world country enjoying their democratic freedom.
scratching now ...

Anonymous said...

Dr Oz bloke, at 1:58 PM wrote in part:

"I am not really certain that the Ministers we have would really command those kinds of salaries in the pte sector. Seriously.

David Lim was in NOL and then left."

_______________

I believe David Lim earned substantially more as CEO of NOL when compared with his Minister-of-State salary.

Hope this has helped.

Tripod Cheerleader

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, at 1:58 PM wrote.

"I am a simple minded. I would want to get as many legal millions as I can before this red-dot turns into dark-red, the colour of blood which is de-oxy. Of course before the colour of this spore becomes dark, me and my millionaire party members would all be in a 1st world country enjoying their democratic freedom.
scratching now ...

__________

Sorry, I don't mean to be facetious but if you are simple minded then forget about earning millions.

Get real willya?

Tripod Cheerleader

Dr Oz bloke said...

"I believe David Lim earned substantially more as CEO of NOL when compared with his Minister-of-State salary.

Hope this has helped.

Tripod Cheerleader"

Yes indeed he did. I know that too. But he has since left NOL. Where is he now?

And besides David Lim and Lim Chee Onn are there any other examples? Where is Yeo Cheow Tong now? Why is it no top company has headhunted him? He served as a Minister for many many years in different portfolios. Where is he now?

Ironically, David Lim was the one I recall telling us on TV "If you pay peanuts you get monkey's as Ministers"

So where is David Lim right now? He was at NOL for such a short time only.

Peter Chen was roped in from Shell. Touted destined for great things. Where is Peter Chen now?

In my opinion,it works both ways. Nothing is ever guaranteed.

Personally I feel the concept is flawed. If anything, we should prove it by forcing Ministers to leave for the private sector after 2 terms in public office before they can stand for elections again. During that "term" in the private sector we see how they perform in the private sector. You must walk the talk. Show us that you indeed can cut it in the private sector and then come back. For the matter, why worry? During that time, the Ministers will be earning a lot more anyway right?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi,
Tripod Cheerleader: Anyone can comment here but there is no need to be rude to others. anon 1:58 was trying to be sarcastic in case you didn't notice.

Anecdotal evidence has showed that very few ex-ministers can command anything close to 2 million. Maybe Goh Keng Swee but certainly not those names you guys just mentioned.

Drozbloke: I agree that the concept is flawed and these past fews days and more days to come, MSM is going full steam to pull wool over our heads. Eg Lim Swee Say just said today, tripartite arrangement is good, therefore we must pay our ministers well! These few days, everything will be attributed to high ministers' pay!
Just keep your ears opened!

Dr.Huang

Anonymous said...

> And besides David Lim and Lim Chee Onn are there any other examples? <

Tony Tan and Dhanabalan forged successful careers in the private sector after politics I believe but were called back for National Service when both DPMs OTC and LHL were diagnosed with lymphoma.

The pedigree of our ministers should not be in any doubt. But doubting Thomases and cynics there will be.

> Where is Yeo Cheow Tong now? <

Who knows.

> Why is it no top company has headhunted him? <

Ask them.

> He served as a Minister for many many years in different portfolios. Where is he now?<

Retired?

> Ironically, David Lim was the one I recall telling us on TV "If you pay peanuts you get monkey's as Ministers" <

Why ironical? Can you explain?

> So where is David Lim right now? He was at NOL for such a short time only.<

The peanut-600K question. Moi would like to know too.

> Peter Chen was roped in from Shell. Touted destined for great things. Where is Peter Chen now? <

Many are called but few are chosen. Talent spotting is more an art than science.

> In my opinion,it works both ways. Nothing is ever guaranteed.<

This truism is more a cliche doncha think?

> Personally I feel the concept is flawed. <

Why is the concept - best talent for the top jobs - flawed. You prefer mediocre talent for top jobs?

> If anything, we should prove it by forcing Ministers to leave for the private sector after 2 terms in public office before they can stand for elections again. During that "term" in the private sector we see how they perform in the private sector. You must walk the talk. Show us that you indeed can cut it in the private sector and then come back. For the matter, why worry? During that time, the Ministers will be earning a lot more anyway right? <

So we get the Tony Tans and Dhanablans to do just that and meanwhile they serve their role as ministers how?
Wouldn't it be a waste of time just so they prove their mettle in the private sector to your satisfaction?

What matters is what the ruling elites and the powers-that-be think.

Your views really mean squat and just so much internet chatter. Of course you will not get the elites admitting that on record even if they think that. You know ... votes ...votes come election time.

Tripod Cheerleader

Anonymous said...

Hi Doc Huang,

> Tripod Cheerleader: Anyone can comment here but there is no need to be rude to others. anon 1:58 was trying to be sarcastic in case you didn't notice <

Yes, I know. So was I. Read tongue-in-cheek.

Cheers.

Tripod Cheerleader.

Dr Oz bloke said...

Yes but I personally did not vote for the ruling party.

But the majority did and the majority wins.

Internet chatter indeed.

I was given 3 options a few years back.

1) Do something about it, eg stand for elections, join politics, serve society

2) Migrate

3) Shut up

I think I must remind myself again which option I chose. Haha!

peashooter said...

"Oh and stop comparing their pay to their US counterparts. With pay like that is it any wonder they got boy wonder and buffoon baby Bush? You want that Singaporeans? Seriously. Have you heard gormless Bush speak without a script? Too funny. If I were an American, I would die of sheer embarrassment."

Ahhh, come on,
Please stop using American politics to mandate your lack of political freedom in Singapore.
Yes the American system because it is a freer one do let in baboons and idiots but it also allows impeachments and checks and balances by Congress and the Senate.The President is subject to vetoing power by Congress. There is a healthy opposition party in the system .There are daily Congressional investigations televised daily in the media to question and probe into suspected improper conduct by the administration.
Please listen to Bill Clinton in his speeches both formal and impromptu. Listen to any regular blow joe Senator, they can teach your politicians a thing or two about public communication .
Look at lowly acclaimed Ronald Reagan, a mere actor. He beams full of compassion and sincerity on TV.He has been acclaimed a great President inspite of his humble background, and was said to be instrumental in bringing an end to the Cold War.
There have been bad, good,and great Presidents and it will continue to be so, but you can be sure with the platforms that your politicians come into power, thay will not even begin to step into any political agenda in America...

"Money is the proverbial carrot. No matter how many people put themselves on the moral high ground, Money still talks for most others. If you want to get a job done you can’t do well yourself, pay some one well to do it well. If you want to get a job superbly well done, pay superbly more. Similarly, if we want Singapore to stay on the “Best Of” world list for a lot of things, we jolly well got to pay top dollar for the best people who can keep us right up there."

Allow me to suggest that you do some travelling out of your pitiable cocoon and see the world for yourself and make some useful and most of all original criticisms and not the usual spoonfed a la carte Singapore no brainers.
I feel proud when the American anthem is played with tears in my eyes . Can you say the same for many in your country where the top talents prefer foreign shores for their abode?

Very sorry Dr. Huang for this rather long reply.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi peashooter:

Please don’t apologise. You are most welcome. You can comment as long as you like.

You are right in that most of our politicians cannot hold a candle to any of the great statesmen in truly first world nations.

To even be one of the 100 US senators, much less hold office in the White House, takes skill and leadership and the ability to carry the electorate, which usually consists of heterogenous groupings of different races with various interests and agendas.

Although money politics is one of the oft-mentioned failures of the American system, some politicians have broken through to political office based on true grit and gumption alone ( eg Obama).

In Sg, money politics comes in different guises eg upgrading of public flats for voters who support the ruling party only etc.

$2 million / year is manifestly excessive, no matter what measures we use as yardsticks. The common Singaporean in the street is simply speechless and most will not believe that any govt leader can ever insist on such amounts of monies!

Also, I would not mention Bill Gates, Soros and Mother Theresa in the same breath as the PAP if we don’t want to be the subject of jokes and ridicule! But then you never know these YoungPAP people, maybe they are wired differently from the rest of us.

Dr.Huang

Ned Stark said...

Dr Huang,
As i said somewhere else, Mother Teresa would not care whether ur an undeserving fella or not. Rather than judge people for being slack or for choosing to be poor, i believe she would still help the person. She is not the Living Saint for no good reason.

Peashooter,
Nice part about the American Anthem. And indeed many of us need to widen our horizons. Perhaps one has to realise that one knows nothing to begin the long and unending journey in pursuit of knoweledge.

Ned Stark said...

To add on to the point on Mother Teresa since i find it abit incomplete...

Thats why i find it funny that Mother Teresa is compared to PAP leaders. I wonder what she would say to the current scheme on public assistance.

Anonymous said...

peashooter at 10:01 PM said:

> Yes the American system because it is a freer one do let in baboons and idiots
but it also allows impeachments and checks and balances by Congress and the Senate.The President is subject to vetoing power by Congress. There is a healthy opposition party in the system <


Big business and politics = corruption of the highest order - read Halliburton and Vice President Cheney, big Texas oil and Bush in an unholy union - is not a system I would wish to foist on any country.

After Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition - read "torture outsourcing" - puhleez stop this ra-ra freedom codswallop already.

Until Cheney, Baby Bush and his neo-con gang are impeached for the unjust Iraq war which was based on deception and lies I remain unconvinced with your propaganda.

When will the balless Democrats call for their impeachment, you think?

The difference between the Repugnicans and Dems? One is a greedier bigger crook...

Tripod Cheerleader

Note: I am not holding my breath.

peashooter said...

Anon:
Note: I am not holding my breath.

I am not aware that I have been meting out any propanganda but just stated the facts.
Know that I do not support the war together with many others. There was recently thousands who march on Washington to protest the war just weeks ago. The next elections will tell more. Yes we read about the atrocities that you have mentioned. But be aware that these were all brought into the open by a free and unfettered American media and by members of the Senate.
The findings were made public and the administration had been brought to task. There are now moves to shut down these facilities and bring about a fairer trial to the detainees.

Nobody went to jail for the peaceful march. No one was made bankrupt for expressing his views in politics.Bad politicians met with their fate sooner or later A senator went to jail for 8 years recently for graft. They are not just whished away to a foreign embassy.You heard of Watergate, Bill Clinton's impeachment and so forth..

Ex presidents are kept with respect and not allowed to die in ignominy in a foreign country.
Jail without trial was a recent infringement of the American culture of not guilty until proven otherwise following 911, but not so where you have political detainees hold up on an island for 20 over years without a day in court, simply because they did not agree in politics.

News reporting covers all sides and are not state controlled, or constantly feeding a population with baby food and milk so that they never mature into adulthood with a mind of their own and be world beaters or confident citizens of the world but are instead passive-aggressive and schizoid neurotics.
Double talk happens in all politics and the rule is not to trust all they say. We are aware of these from open and frank discussions by academics and intellects.They are not browbeatened into silent obeisance,or otherwise they will lose their positions or tenures just because one had filled in the wrong figure of a few dollars for a transport claim.

So holding your breath or not, who cares as life will go on, and while you squabble in your little petty cacaphonic alternations, America will awake to another glorious day.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

peashooter, at 11:21 AM said in part:

> So holding your breath or not, who cares as life will go on, and while you squabble in your little petty cacaphonic alternations, America will awake to another glorious day.<

Zounds!

Now that's propaganda on overdrive! Cool.

Like said earlier, until these war criminals are impeached, all this talk of oversight and this wonderful, great American system is just so much smoke and mirrors.

Too bad you believe your own propaganda and are self-delusional and that's your prerogative but puhleez just blow that smoke up someone else's ass.

"Tears in my eyes hearing that American anthem ... Priceless. Too funnee.

Tripod Cheerleader

Anonymous said...

I feel inclined to respond to the verbal diarrhoea and politics of envy. In any society there will be rulers and ruled. The rulers are the elite and should be respected and rewarded as such.

With the kind of intellect that our PM possesses, he would do well in any profession that he so chooses. Look at his brother, same pedigree and just as successful albeit in a different field. The Lees have done a lot for this country. MM and PM deserve the high pay, although I cannot say the same for the rest.

Sure everyone does not want to be ruled, but ask yourself do you have the calibre to be rulers.

PAP2

Dr Oz bloke said...

Rulers and ruled?

Sound more like a monarchy than a democracy!

Congrats PAP2, you just revealed what the Lees have been trying so hard to play down and deny!

What are you trying to do? Sabotage them? Don't lah. Anyway be prepared, the rulers are going to get you for this.

Tsk tsk tsk

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon 1.02PM:

I feel compelled to respond.

You have the right to carry on being obsequious and sycophantic to whomever you wish but don’t expect all of us to follow your lead.

Yes good rulers should be respected but where does it say that rulers can plunder the national treasury?

If earning $1 million plus perks is not enough, then one should question the motivation of your public servants.

Even if we don’t have the caliber to be the rulers, it still does not mean that we should not question the wisdom of any of the rulers’ policies.

Dr.Huang

Anonymous said...

Dr.Huang said

> If earning $1 million plus perks is not enough, then one should question the motivation of your public servants. <

You are missing the point. It isn't about not being paid enough but rather being paid market rates for their talent.

Should a talented ministerial candidate in the private sector be expected to not only perform "national service" leaving a lucrative business career or his profession AND be expected take a pay cut as well?

Would you?

Is asking to be paid market rates inherently immoral?

Tripod Cheerleader

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Tripod cheerleader,
Does the US president, UK PM or European PM ask to be paid the same as Citicrop Chairman, HSBC Chairman or Shell Chairman respectively?
These politicians are the top of their cohorts and cannot surely be people inferior to those in the top ranks of industry. Did they demand to be paid market-rate ( as you put it?)
No, because public service is exactly that.. service of one's nation. There has to be some element of sacrifice ( altho in Sg that element is minuscule compared to the other countries' counterparts!
Don't pull a fast one on the people that if not for the $2m/year, these guys would all be running the Fortune 500's of the world! What foolishness!

In all probability, they would just be one of their gang running one of the many GLC's . Some of them may not even survive long in those positions.

Dr.Huang

Anonymous said...

Hi Doc,

You have not answered two questions.

Would you?

Is it inherently immoral?

Your comparison with the UK and US models are misleading and inaccurate. In the US and UK, ex-politicians enjoy revolving door perks back into business and industry and also the lucrative lecture circuit. Bill Clinton is a good example. What he is earning now has more than made up for his "economic loss" whilst in public office. The *sacrifice* you mention does not quite bear up on closer scrutiny. In fact the very offices they held actually enhanced their economic value when leaving public office.

Tripod Cheerleader

nofearSingapore said...

Hi tripod cheerleader,
( hey nice nickname- and I thought you were being sarcastic, you actually believe the whole stuff the rulers churn out eh?)

We are not asking them to be inducted into a monkhood with no material comfort and celibacy!

Most of these people are not of proven caliber and even if they were (eg Richard Hu from Shell) it is not too much to expect some sacrifice. Also, to serve one’s nation is surely not equivalent to going for some suicide missions.

It is not immoral in the sense of being "sinful", but it is not right ( as in the "gentlemanly decent" sense). If you want me to say it, I will say that whilst it is totally legal, as the parliament is the highest court of the land and it makes the laws that make the whole shebang legal, But it is still not right.

Dr.Huang

Anonymous said...

> Hi tripod cheerleader,
( hey nice nickname- and I thought you were being sarcastic, you actually believe the whole stuff the rulers churn out eh?)<

Hi Doc,

Playing the Devil's Advocate for the sake of clarity of argument is quite different from singing in consonance with the PAP choir.:-)

You mentioned Richard Hu as an example of making that sacrifice. He is to be applauded and admired. I am a fan because he is way cool, articulate, eloquent and most personable. But that darn 64k or is it 600k question remains unanswered.

Would you leave a lucrative say SGD 3 million profession and become a minister today? How many Richard Hus are there?

Tripod Cheerleader

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Tripod Cheerleader ( I will just call you TC henceforth cos I lazy to type so much),

I tell you, honorable men like Richard Hu/Tony Tan would serve for even $10000/month if they need to. It is insulting to people like him to say that only lotsa and lotsa money can seduce them into public service. Not all are so calculative and money-minded!

And about the US/UK models being misleading, don’t you think our ex-Ministers do the same? There is nothing new under the sun, my friend.

Where did David Lim/Yeo Ning Hong and the other blokes like Lim Chee Onn go after they leave office?

Moping at home because their years of service in cabinet have made them unemployable? No, they are happily employed in GLC’s. But Some make it some don’t! That’s life!

I say to all, if the ministers think money is very important and that serving the people is time wasted, then go..

There are 500 Fortune 500's out there waiting for you, go into their waiting arms and prove how good you are!

The people may be tired and fed up, but they are not stupid!

Dr.Huang

Anonymous said...

Doc Huang said,

> I tell you, honorable men like Richard Hu/Tony Tan would serve for even $10000/month if they need to. It is insulting to people like him to say that only lotsa and lotsa money can seduce them into public service. Not all are so calculative and money-minded! <

Again, how many Richard Hus and Tony Tans are there?

The principle here is about "not losing out" rather than "greed" or as you put it "lotsa lotsa money"

It can be likened to co-opting a civilian into NS. Do NS work but keep your civvy-street salary. Is that wrong or immoral? We are doing this for our NS men aren't we? Where even MDs in civvy street serve as Corporals - but paid 20K for two weeks reservist duties!

I believe it isn't the principle but the quantum which makes it an emotive issue.

TC

Dr Oz bloke said...

"The people may be tired and fed up, but they are not stupid!"

Oh Dr Huang , you are mistaken. Many are indeed stupid. ( of course there are some who are not, but majority are stupid)

It's a proven fact already.

Dr Oz bloke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Oz bloke said...

Hi TC,

You don't get it do you?

To some of us, our Ministers are NOT worth the money we pay them. That's a personal opinion. We just don't feel that they are really as great as the people who are in the private sector.

It's just not the same.

Anyone who has worked for a GLC or the civil service or the govt sector and then moved on to the private sector would tell you that the 2 sectors are very different. Success in one sector does not equate to success in the other.

Similarly I don't think great businessmen or CEOs can simply walk into public office and be great leaders of nations.

The role of a leader of a nation requires special characteristics. A strong sense of duty, service above self and altruism is one of the pre-requisites.

A great leader of a nation would never speak the words "Why should I lose out by serving the nation"

Whining Singaporean whimpy (as Philip Yeo calls then) NSmen shouting "Why should I lose out by serving the nation?" That we all know. But you are trying to say that the Ministers are just doing the same?!!! Wonder if you are saying we should be happy about that! LOL!

peashooter said...

""Hi Doc,

Playing the Devil's Advocate for the sake of clarity of argument is quite different from singing in consonance with the PAP choir.:-)""

Cowards who do not stand up for their words always come out with this defence!!!
So, do not bother to cross arguments with them. They change postures where they see fit...

Anonymous said...

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You can reach blogsearch.sg by typing blogsearch.sg in your browser window or click here

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Anonymous said...

what would mother Teresa say to those on Public assistance scheme? She would support PAP stance, so that as part of the 'many helping hands' that our Govt propose, gals like her would have a job helping the poorest of the poor, and PAP would be happy to keep the funds for their multi million dollar salary increase!

Anonymous said...

peashooter, at 8:02 PM said:

> Cowards who do not stand up for their words always come out with this defence!!! <

Ad hominems? Is that it???

Can we have something more intelligent than infantile name calling? Or is that too much to expect?

TC

Anonymous said...

> You don't get it do you?

To some of us, our Ministers are NOT worth the money we pay them. <

Ahh clarity at last!

I thought we were arguing from first principles.

We could have saved a lot of time had this been stated at the outset.

Thanks for the clarification.

Cheers TC

BW said...

"You are missing the point. It isn't about not being paid enough but rather being paid market rates for their talent." "Is it inherently immoral?"

CEOs today make perhaps 10x as much as a generation ago. Is it because their work effort and management skills are 10x more valuable to a corporation than a generation pass? I find that hard to believe. After all, those huge CEO pay packages have been escalating regardless of company performance. As Warren Buffett once said: "when a chief executive with a good reputation takes over a company with a bad one, it is the company that keeps its reputation."

Wages at the very top are largely determined by non-market mechanisms such as labor market institutions and social norms. And over the years, the ability of other corporate stakeholders to constrain the freedom of CEOs to direct the value add in their direction has waned.

Now we get to the morality part. With the power to make decisions comes the opportunity to make money. If no one exercises restraint, we would simply sink into a morass of competitive avarice. Witness the phenomenon of the "pay for failure" contracts that heap $m on dismissed CEOs.

In Singapore our problem is particularly large. The averge CEO is paid about 55x the median worker compared with a range of 9 to 16x in Japan, Taiwan and Europe. Why are our CEO's paid so much more relative to the average worker? Or perhaps I should ask, is it surprising, given our particular labour market arrangement and social norm?

When people in power argue that $290 a month is sufficient for the aged with no dependents to live on, while at the same time dismiss $600k salaries as 'peanuts' and claim that $m salaries are a 'bargain', I fear we do have a problem with morality.

Anonymous said...

I have a problem with the hypocracy that i am reading in the blog. If you say that it is a calling to be in politics and you set a higher morale standard for politicians, then what about doctors, lawyers etc.

Shouldnt doctors see their profession as a calling too, to heal and bring comfort to the sick? Yet we see so many doctors driving fancy cars, living a luxurious life and some charging ridiculous fees. Yet I do not see you guys bitching about such doctors. Can you help me here to understand your double standard?

Should lawyers be there to uphold justice? Yet they are the top earners. Where is your logic?
PAP2

Ned Stark said...

To Whom it may concern,

Not all doctors are doing as well as u claim to be. With regards to charging ridiculous fees, its the market rate. Do you expect a Dr to work for u for free? Furthermore Drs are at the mercy of market forces as are we all. And Drs do work hard to get the money they deserve. Unfortunately they face competition and are even now being derided by the very people they are trying to help; not to mention that there are instances where people would rather pay for overseas trips than their healthcare.

With regards to lawyers, his job is not to fight for justice. His job is to help his client with legal problems...IRREGARDLESS of the fact that said client is a murderer so on. Furthermore this talk of justice is misleading. Does the defendant not deserve a fair hearing too? Or does Justice merely involve the punishment of criminals? And same for the point on doctors not all lawyers are doing very well. The median salary is misleading.

Now to the issue of civil servants pay. No one is advocating that they be paid squat. The issue however is the fact that they are paid 1 million. So please do not be too quick to tar those who are not for the pay by calling them hypocrites and so on so forth. Such name calling does nothing to advance ur case.

Dr Oz bloke said...

"Yet we see so many doctors driving fancy cars, living a luxurious life and some charging ridiculous fees. Yet I do not see you guys bitching about such doctors. Can you help me here to understand your double standard?"

Hi PAP2,

Double standards? I don't think so.

Doctors don't get to DECIDE how much they are going to earn every year just like that. It isn't so simple.

There's something called the free market. If you don't like this doctor and don't think he is worth paying those obscene charges he is asking for.....well don't see him and don't pay him.

It's a free market. There are lots of people out there who would say "These bloody doctors earn too much money! Bloody Hell!" And they have the freedom of choice to decide if that doctor is going to get their money. If they don't like it, then they won't pay that doctor.

At least this is how it works for the private sector. As for the public sector well you should ask the Minister of Health about that.

But for politicians, well they are paid using tax payer's money. My money and your money.

And although we have something called a general election, somehow I can't but help that I don't really have a say in how much I feel they should be paid.

The free market model doesn't apply to our Ministers. They get to decide how good they are and how much they earn.

I don't think doctors can do stuff like that. Even the top eye surgeons have reduced their charges to be competitive with eye surgeons from Thailand and the region. So in any case, top doctors in Singapore also have to compete on price with the top doctors in the region and that pushes prices down not up.

Do doctors bitch about other doctors earning too much? Well we do actually. Some of us for example feel that doctors who venture into aesthetic medicine and earn lots of money are not exactly doing the profession proud.

So no double standards. We call it as it is. But in any case why do you worry PAP2?

The Ministers have always won all general elections convincingly and have always got the mandate of the majority of Singaporeans. So they can do what they want because of that.

A few dissenting opinions on the internet shouldn't bother them too much right?

Just like we doctors have to contend with the people who curse at ALL DOCTORS as money grabbing bastards. You can't win over everybody all the time.

As for lawyers well I can't speak for them.

PS : Doctors are not in the list of top earning professionals that Ministers will peg their pay to. I wonder why? There are quite a few doctors, breast surgeons,neurosurgeons and eye surgeons in cabinet so I don't see why the doctors were not included in the list.....unless DOCTORS ARE NOT EARNING ENOUGH TO MAKE THE LIST!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, 1:30 PM wrote:

> In Singapore our problem is particularly large. The averge CEO is paid about 55x the median worker compared with a range of 9 to 16x in Japan, Taiwan and Europe. Why are our CEO's paid so much more relative to the average worker? <

If you want to cite really obscene figures why not use the USA? According to liberal research groups United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies, in 2004, the ratio of average CEO pay to the average pay of a production worker was 431-to-1, up from 301-to-1 in 2003. That's not the highest ever. In 2001, the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay hit a peak of 525-to-1.

Are you getting vertigo yet?

Comparing the compensation of a CEO to the average non-management worker is a specious argument. The logic surely is to pay people based on the value they create. And this begs the question - "Did they earn it?"

Executive excess or real value/bargain? However, we are digressing.

The real issue is, whether paying market or close to market rates for top talent to join the ranks of the political leadership folly or wise.

If these talented individuals decline because they consider the pay cut to be excessive, are they greedy, immoral creatures?

These 'orrible swines!

TC

Young PAP said...

I have a lot of empathy for our Ministers. They do a job that very few people can do and they deserve to be paid accordingly. The question to be asked by the critics of their proposed pay increase is this- are you criticizing because you honestly do not believe that the Ministers are entitled to a pay increase or is it because you are simply envious?

http://youngpapblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/green-eyed-monster.html

Dr Oz bloke said...

"The question to be asked by the critics of their proposed pay increase is this- are you criticizing because you honestly do not believe that the Ministers are entitled to a pay increase or is it because you are simply envious?"

I honestly believe that the Ministers do not deserve to be paid in the millions of dollars. Nothing to do with envy.

That's my personal opinion by the way. Of course people are welcome to disagree.

Ned Stark said...

Dr Oz,

I believe the case for lawyers is similar to that of doctors. You can always find another lawyer if u are unhappy with his services and u can even complain to law society if u feel the lawyer is not doing a good job.

Young PAP,
The Qn is, is 1 million unreasonable? By ur statement it seems to be that it is. Instead of accusing people of being jealous, pls try to see the argument from our point instead of parroting the same phrase again and again.

Anonymous said...

Young PAP, 3:58 PM wrote:

> are you criticizing because you honestly do not believe that the Ministers are entitled to a pay increase or is it because you are simply envious? <

Your bifurcated question is a little too clever by half.

Please read the "Comments" more closely. As Doc Huang has opined, the ministers are simply not worth *those lotsa lotsa* money and I quote - "To some of us, our Ministers are NOT worth the money we pay them."

By logical extension, a pay rise would be considered mind boggling and utterly ludicrous.

Clear enough ... ?

TC

nofearSingapore said...

Hi all,

We already have close to 80 comments. I sense that even if we have another 80, neither side will be able to persuade the other as to the wisdom of its own arguments.

It is almost like religion- either you believe or you don’t.

My last word to those who believe that each of the ministers should be paid much more is this-

“Irregardless of how much some lawyers or businessmen are getting, Do you not think $1+ million a year for the next few years is good money. Whilst earning this 1 million, the ministers would be serving Sg and when they have passed on from the scene, they will be remembered as having honorably served their country. “

In this world, just as there are people who earn less than you, there will be some who earns more ( unless you are Bill Gates). But one must find ones own level of contentment and figure out what is important to oneself.

If some minister feels that $1 million is not enough for him, then obviously this person is exceptional and very confident of his own abilities. Then why just stop at $2 million? If we do, in another few years, we will repeat this whole drama again and cause unhappiness for both sides of the divide again.

In all honesty, such an exceptional person should leave Sg cabinet and offer himself to the rest of the world. Perhaps Bill and Merlinda Gates Foundation would better utilize his talents and solve the world of poverty and corruption. ( I am not being sarcastic).

In Europe many politicians like the Irish president ( Mary Robinson) or Dutch PM ( ? names) have gone on to bigger stages after they left their national govts.

For everyone else who still feels the govt's case is reasonable, we shall just have to agree to disagree.

Best wishes

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Anonymous said...

Dr Huang, your last words struck a chord in me. It is true, those who clamour for more than $1mil should move on to the pte sector and seek their fortune there. No, they should not do it at the cost of tax-payers' money, but out of love for the nation, like MM Lee, Goh Keng Swee, Hon Sui Sen, Low Thia Kiang, Chiam See Tong. God bless you, good Doctor.
Family man.

Anonymous said...

And where is the only man who can possibly speak out like a saintly father against all these, to stop this family squabbling and protect our reserves against such thieves? Sorry, the President, holding the second key is also 'in the money'.

Anonymous said...

Of course the government decides how much to pay itself. Just as doctors decide how to reward themselves (by the charges they make). And just as you can choose your doctors or lawyers or whatever, you can also choose your ministers. Have you not heard of GE (general election). Ask youself why is the PAP returned to power in every election.

PAP2

tired m.o. said...

Dr Huang,

Just wondering -- aren't you a private sector doctor? What made you leave? Was pay ever an issue?

Maybe there are lessons from your own experience, on how the public sector could better retain people.

Dr Oz bloke said...

"Ask youself why is the PAP returned to power in every election. "

Yes that's the question I ask myself too.

And I already answered it in one of my previous comments here.

Frankly, even MM Lee has alluded to this in many of his interviews with the international media.

MM has often explained that Singaporeans cannot have "freedom of speech and demonstration" and needs to be "guided" in elections, because "Singaporeans are not matured enough".

He says this to the international media.

If you think about what MM Lee says, it certainly does not flatter the PAP.

The PAP has been the choice of the majority of Singaporeans. According to MM Lee, the majority of Singaporeans are immatured.

Doesn't that make the PAP the choice of immatured people?

Think about it.

BW said...

"Did they earn it?"

Well, no. Check my previous comment.

"Comparing the compensation of a CEO to the average non-management worker is a specious argument."

Actually I think this is very important. I have no problems with the talented being compensated more, but too unequal a society cannot be but an unjust society. A society cannot claim to strive for equality of opportunity when there is too great an inequality in outcome.

"The real issue is, whether paying market or close to market rates for top talent to join the ranks of the political leadership folly or wise."

My answer to this issue follows from the above.

Dr Huang is right when he implies that if a minister thinks $1m is not enough, then let him go. For this person doesn;t really possess the right qualities we need in a minister.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi tired m.o. ( I presume you are a doctor)-
Pay was never an issue. I could not take the politics anymore.
I am also quite a maverick and like to do things my way ( and I mean to do thing properly and not just follow regulations and rules etc). I like to make patients happy as I know how.

You may not know, but the public sector pays the doctors Very very well. I am not lying when I say that many of my friends ( and they are still very good friends in govt hospitals are very happy and contented ( in all sense of the word). I have much admiration for all doctors everywhere so long as their conscience is clear and they don't overtreat/overcharge and do "funny thing" to earn their money.
If my friends leave for the private service, some will make more some won't. Just like govt ministers. Some are cut out for public service, some for the private service.

Please visit and tell us your medical officer's perspective.

Dr.Huang

Anonymous said...

BW 11:46 AM wrote:

> Actually I think this is very important. I have no problems with the talented being compensated more <

What would be a reasonable quantum in terms of CEO-to-worker ratio in this ideal society you seek? How do you define executive excess?

> A society cannot claim to strive for equality of opportunity when there is too great an inequality in outcome.<

Your statement is puzzling. Equality of opportunity *will* to lead unequal outcomes because human beings are not all of equal talent. This is a given. TOUGH. But that's life.

How do you propose we have equality of outcome? A Grand Yoda in this "ideal society" of yours to decree and ensure equal distribution of income from our national economic pie?

TC

Anonymous said...

please read yawning bread.org. The statistics and graphics are superb, and obscene.

Dr Oz bloke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Oz bloke said...

Alex Au is amazing.

I wonder if our Ministers have the mettle to rebutt his points? Or for the matter even the courage to try?

What say you PAP2? TC? youngpap?

When PM Lee announced the pay rise I must confess that I didn't really think it was THAT obscene. I actually somewhat bought the method of benchmarking despite feeling that it was morally wrong to use that benchmark. (I wasn't smart enough)

But Alex Au's write up has shown me the light. The method of benchmarking is wrong to begin with. Flat out obscene.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon 2:11 and drozbloke:
Yes yawning bread's alex au's analysis is insightful . That's why I have just put it in the links of this post.
Hope that more readers get to read it and come to their own conclusion about this whole affair.

It's strange that without the blogosphere, the MSM make us feel so isolated and so alone. I thought I was like the proverbial ( yes that word) voice in the wilderness and that nothing else in this place cares whether THEY pay themselves $1m or 10 mil, but I guess the internet shows that many many care and are generally unhappy ( to put it mildly)

Dr.Huang

Ned Stark said...

Dr Huang,
Well before the MSM there were and still are the taxi drivers :P

However after reading ur blog i must say that i have come to qn my belief. I always felt that there were too many doctors in the market. However now it appears that while there are many GPs out there, the number of specialists is not that many. I would be grateful if u could enlighten me on this...

nofearSingapore said...

Hi nedstark:
To train a good specialist takes a long time ( about 10 years before he can stand on his own).
There is a mismatch in the number of specialists in the private and public sector ( too many wrt to patients in private and too few in public).
I have been mulling on this for the past few weeks. Actually if there was a way to logistically circumvent the bureaucracy where the private specialists takes the patient load off the govt hospitals ( even say 10 patients a week), this will help the overworked govt specialists considerably and correspondindly waiting time for patients would be shortened.
But somehow there is this public/private we/them divide and somehow we are treated like the enemy.
If private/public can work together, patients will benefit and no doctor need to be worse off.
But... simpler said than done.
I am still in the mulling mood.

Dr.Huang

Anonymous said...

Dr Oz bloke, 2:47 wrote:

> What say you PAP2? TC? youngpap? <

Since you asked so nicely Bloke. ;-)

Singapore is *different* from other countries. How many times must you all be reminded of this fact? Really you guyz. Get with the program.

So puhleez stop using such comparisons for these are false analogies.

Singapore is ... well ... Singapore Inc. It's a corporation less so a country.

Like any corporation, if it is to succeed its leaders must be the elite of elites. Second best just will not do. Do you think Honda would have succeeded without Iacocca? Apple succeed without Bill Gates? And Microsoft without Jack Welch? Dream on.

To attract the best they have to be paid cashew nuts + obscene market PREMIUM. This is a complete no-brainer. You should know the drill about peanuts and monkeys by now surely?

I further contend that presently they are grossly underpaid. They should be paid at least 10 times the median benchmark. They are too humble to admit this truth but really folks render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

Besides, it's not the money but the principle.

Let's face it. The collective IQs of our cabinet ministers dwarf even those of Britain's, USA and OZ combined.

So please don't be envious folks. They are the best cabinet in the world by any benchmark and whatever obscene figures you wish to throw at them would never be enough compensation. Ever.

We Singaporeans are so lucky to have such able leaders and will be forever indebted.

So please stop this incessant chatter about ministerial pay rise and go back to your miserable little lives and "get out of my uncaring elitist face".

I hope you are suitably satisfied with this response.

Guten tag and "Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

TC

Dr Oz bloke said...

TC, are you schizophrenic?

Anyway I have to agree with your last comment.

Indeed Singapore is not a country. Contrary to what Dr Huang says, we are not citizens but merely employees of Singapore Inc.

The weird thing about Singapore Inc is that the CEO and Chairmen of the board actually ask the employees to vote who they want to be their CEO and chairmen.But somehow or rather the employees only get to choose from the same group of people every year or new people who are clones of the ones presently on the board.

The Board and CEO then proclaim that they are the best board and CEO in the world because they let the employees choose who their bosses are. Which company does that?

But the board and CEO have a problem because unlike other companies, they cannot fire their employees. They are stuck with them. As such they have started to go the conventional route and follow other companies in hiring new workers who are cheaper and easier to manage and if it doesn't work out, they can always fire them.

I can go on and on.....but I will stop here to check with TC if I am on the right track so far?

Anonymous said...

Dr Oz bloke,

> TC, are you schizophrenic?<

Wazzup Doc? Schizoid? Moi? Lighten up.

Must you read everything literally and seriously?

What's the matter? Satire or sardonic mean anything to you?

Cheers. :-)

TC

Anonymous said...

why waste time?

[url]http://www.petitiononline.com/paypap1/petition.html[/url]

Anonymous said...

It's abt loyalty and co-operation across the elite board, effective or not for the country - the results are clear.

skunk said...

Sigh!!!

Money, money , money...

How much he earns...

How much she earns....

How much I earn...

The more money you earn, the better and more qualified you are and a better person and a genius you will be...?????

What a miserable place to live in!!!

Hey folks, there is a life outside of a fixative obsession with money...

Try it sometime, and enjoy the freedom from money slavery

Anonymous said...

Tripod cheerleader

""Too bad you believe your own propaganda and are self-delusional and that's your prerogative but puhleez just blow that smoke up someone else's ass.

"Tears in my eyes hearing that American anthem ... Priceless. Too funnee.""

Wah!! Very intelligent Lah!!
Make my toes convulse in laughter
Ha! Ha! Ha!

peashooter said...

Tripod Cheerleader
"Cowards who do not stand up for their words always come out with this defence!!!
Ad hominems? Is that it???
Can we have something more intelligent than infantile name calling? Or is that too much to expect?"

AD HOMINEMS TU QUOQUE

Yes, that's it....Cheers

BW said...

"Your statement is puzzling"

Well, for starters, money gets you better nutrition and into a better pre-school. And we know how important the early formative years are.

"How do you propose we have equality of outcome?"

No, I'm not proposing equality of outcome. That is silly of course. And you are right to say it is important we recognise our differnt abilities. But I believe we should also be wary of allowing too large an inequality in outcome.

"What would be a reasonable quantum"

I have no precise figure, although my sense is we have gone too far and headed further. You could try Peter Drucker, who suggested 20x. That is, since the median S'proean earns $28kpa, he is suggesting the CEO gets no more than $600k.

But think about this. Wee Cho Yow is wealthy, and rightly so. He is hard-working and brilliant. But I daresay, only perhaps 2% of his wealth(estimated at $5bn?) can be justified as part of an economic incentive system encouraging entreprenuership. The remaining 98% of his wealth could create alot more opportunity for the rest of society if re-distributed.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone
I quite cannot believe doctors are in the list of rich people. My sister friend told us that some doctors who see only people with cancel and are dying, make plenty of money. Something like a few millions every year. May be doctor can confirm or not. Lucky singapore also have no tiger wood or beckam. If have the government will also want to have their pay. I am taxi driver, good day i earn 100 dollar

taxi driver yap

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Mr. Yap,
I cannot tell you exactly how much all doctors make.
But I can tell you honestly that I make less than some government doctors who specialising in the same field of surgery( although I am a private surgeon).
They don't have to worry about not having patients ( iron rice bowl), but if I take leave , I get $0 that day.
Maybe I am lousy businessman. But I am happy. I treat all- rich and poor. Something like Robin Hood- collect more from rich and charge poor less. Ha ha

Maybe some doctors appear in the magazines boasting about their cars and bungalows and make people think all of us are like that- printing money.

But it is not true- most of my friends in private hospital are reasonable and live normal lives and drive normal cars.

In every profession, there is "black sheep" and we do have doctors who we think do unnecessary treatment but if we cannot prove it, we cannot take action against them.

Please visit more often,

Dr. Huang

Anonymous said...

BW, at 9:40 AM wrote:

> Wee Cho Yow is wealthy, and rightly so. He is hard-working and brilliant. But I daresay, only perhaps 2% of his wealth(estimated at $5bn?) can be justified as part of an economic incentive system encouraging entreprenuership. The remaining 98% of his wealth could create alot more opportunity for the rest of society if re-distributed.<

Are CEOs worth their salaries?

Skyrocketing paychecks for head honchos of top corporations had its genesis in the USA.

Their salaries exploded with the birth of the superstar CEO in the late 1980s.

Media-savvy moguls such as Chrysler Corp's Lee Iacocca appeared in TV ads and wrote best-selling books.

Meanwhile, the faceless managers of a bygone era fell out of vogue. Company boards that couldn't spot a future Iacocca within their ranks began recruiting from outside the firm and hiring "outsiders" led to bidding wars for talent.

When you ask the question "What exactly is a CEO worth?," the answer has become "Whatever he has the audacity to demand."

According to Jeff Sonnenfeld, associate dean of the Yale School of Management - "What's disturbing is that so many companies paying astronomical rates have performed poorly."

For example, Global Crossing Ltd. dangled a $10 million signing bonus to lure AT&T Corp. hotshot Robert Annunziata as chief executive in 1999. A year later, he was replaced at the top of the struggling telecom company by Leo J. Hindery, who lasted just seven months before negotiating a $1 million-a-year severance package on his way out the door.

The Financial Times recently calculated that the executives at the 25 largest American companies to go bankrupt in the past few years walked away with $3.3 billion collectively in share sales, payoffs, and other rewards. Never before, have so many people been paid so much money for achieving so little.

Many of the high-priced CEO's never fulfilled their promise.

Jim Collins, author of the 2001 bestseller "Good to Great," which emerged from a five-year study of 1,435 major corporations has this to say - "We looked at 75 years of company data and never found the slightest correlation between executive compensation and company performance."

Self-serving gratuitous, greedy twats or champion performers?

So this folks, is how we got the oft repeat mantra today.

"You gotta pay for top talent!"

Yea, rite.

TC

nofearSingapore said...

Hi TC,
You have a very circuitous way of making a point.
Anyway, point taken.
$2m/year? Nah! Next!
ha ha
Dr.Huang

Dr Oz bloke said...

TC reminds me of a certain baldie who called himself ugly.

Was a contrarian trader on the stock market if I remember correctly LOL!

But that's a good one TC! :)

Anonymous said...

So it seems that the government's position is that it is unrealistic to expect good men and women to come forward to serve for no other reason except to SERVE. Ultruism is DEAD according to them.

I do wonder what do they look for when they invite people for those tea party if not to detect if there is any iota of idealism and big heartedness in these potential ministers. Oh! I got it. Is it to size up how much they want before they are prepared to take up the job. So it is "what is there in it for me" basis.

And if ultruism is dead then why is a certain minister asking people to put aside part of their salary to charity. Shouldnt I also be asking what is in it for me before i donate. Or how much would you pay me before I donate.

Disappointed PAPwanabe

Anonymous said...

Did you guys read in Today (2 April) remarks by Lim Swee Say (Minister in PM Office)? Reporter asked him if it was right to increase Ministers' salary at a time when income gap is widening etc etc. His reply verbatim was "there is no such time as a good time, there is no such time as a bad time, we just have to do it all the time."

I have always seen this bloke as a bloke who speaks honestly. Cant speak well but honest. Well he just confirmed to me my observation. I will pay him 10x what he is asking for. It also confirms the following about this government:
1. They could not care a damn about how you guys feel.
2. They will not stop at 2.2M. They will do it ALL THE TIME.
Why not 20M?
Thank you Mr Lim, you are an honest bloke.

Salary without frontier

Anonymous said...

Stanford Report, March 16, 2005

In big firms, high salary for CEOs does not necessarily reflect high performance

BY ALICE LAPLANTE
Excerpts from the article:
Daines studied the relationship of executive pay to executive skill. In a recent paper, he and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania and New York University concluded that particularly in big firms, a high salary doesn't necessarily mean that a CEO is more competent than his or her peers.
The study, which reviewed CEO pay and economic performance between 1991 and 2002, found that in small firms, highly paid CEOs generally are more skilled than their industry counterparts. The correlation is even stronger if the firm has a large shareholder or if the CEO has been paid largely in stocks and options. Conversely, pay is more likely to be negatively related to skill in larger firms. “In many large firms, the highest paid executives actually performed the worst,” Daines said.
Indeed, one very interesting result of the study is that incentive pay matters enormously in cases where there is CEO turnover in poor performing companies. If the new CEO is paid more than his or her predecessor and if the pay is largely incentive-based, the new boss is more likely to reverse prior poor performance.
Daines suggested that this might be explained by the "cockroach" theory: Where you see one cockroach, you can assume that there are many. "Maybe paying the CEO too much in relation to his or her skill level is a sign of other, bigger problems with the company," he said. "There's evidence that information contained in CEO pay can potentially be used to understand investment in companies."
One theory is that such CEOs are overpaid because they have too much influence over the board that should be monitoring them on shareholders' behalf and too much influence over the committee that sets their pay. Thus, CEOs are effectively able to set their own pay and distort their compensation contract. In this view, CEO pay is the product of badly functioning corporate governance

nofearSingapore said...

Hi all,
Thanks for commenting.
I have said whatever I want to say on this issue. Please continue to leave your take on this impt issue.
After pondering on this issue long and hard, I have decided to send off a letter to the forum pages of MSM on this very topic.
I find the groundswell so strongly against this and that I should not allow any fear of being politically incorrect prevent me from speaking candidly and sincerely.
Hope it gets published.

Dr.Huang

4.62 said...

4.62

young-pap said...

All you people here should learn to be better ass-lickers and apple-polishers, like me.

Elaina Olivia Chong said...

Dear Young PAP

I’m intrigued that you would believe I have been surprised by my position as I Have lived And worked overseas. And contrary to blogsphere belief, I was happily bought out of my scholarship bond - because I have been head hunted with a better pay, After serving half the term because I don’t believe in the scheme and Money, yes, was the proverbial carrot.

I also had an option to leave the country but I did not because Singapore has proved to edge out the rest; despite “carrots” of welfare and health benefits in other in other countries .

I face competition here in Singapore day in day out in the private sector. What makes you think a Singaporean in other countries doesn’t ?

I run my own business, I fight out other foreigners trying to eat my pie; but I know to challenge this, have to upgrade and improve myself to survive and sustain my own pay.

There is not much I can do, my label as a Singaporean no longer gives me premium on my services anymore. But I am still here. And I support our Ministerial Pay increments.

Why? Because I need more than a competent government. I can’t afford incompetence in our leaders. Life is just too short.
I am not going to tolerate nor swallow any disappearance of my asset values, nor willing to halve valuations on my apartments, nor job perils, nor security risks because of an incompetent Goverment. Or is anyone? What does it mean to you a less stifling and repressive ambience? Somewhere where you will be taxed almost half your salary?

I have lived in Scandinavia for almost a year cumulatively of my life and no, its not utopia you might like to know. Taxed almost half of what I have worked for?
We do not know what we have. Really, we just don’t

Leong Sze Hian said...

Singapore has been voted as the top choice of location for expats in the world and also the best asian city in the 2007 Worldwide Quality of Living Survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. The Senior Minister has voiced his concerns about Singapore's brain-drain. So, why are Singaporeans leaving and may not be returning, when it is the best place in the world for expats to live and work, and the best for quality of life in Asia?
The answer may lie in some statistics for the last year or so.
The Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in his inaugural speech in the Distinguished Speakers Lecture series of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) on March 21, said that "it is quite puzzling that Singapore is still aspiring to be world class, when it has exceeded world-class standards in many areas" and cited "10 dimensions in which we have achieved or exceeded previous 'world-class' standards".
In the annals of corporate history, many once revered brand names have fallen by the wayside, because they failed to adequately, constantly and continually address their shortcomings, and internal and external criticisms. This failing may arguably be applied to the history of nations too.
In the context of his speech which was on building the Singapore brand and national branding, I think we may want to take a step backbards, and do some critical self-analysis of our current weaknesses, and try to improve on them. In our perhaps zealous attempts to become world-class in so many things, we may have paid insufficient attention to some 10 dimensions, which I shall describe below.
Singapore was ranked 130th out of 178 countries for Happiness, 40th out of 41 countries for Libido, 30th out of 35 countries for Courtesy, 5th in the world for Prisoners Per Capita, 105th in the world for Income Equality, 140th out of 167 countries for Press Freedom, and 15th out of 16 countries in the Asia Democracy Index.
Dimensions relating to income:-
1. Income distribution continued to widen - the Gini coefficient increased from 0.468 to 0.472.
Percentage of employed households with household income from work below $ 1,000, increased from 5.4 to 5.7%. Average monthly income from work per household member among employed households was only $ 300 for the 1st to 10th decile, and $ 540 for the 11th to 20th decile. Average monthly income from work per household member among non-retiree households was only $ 160 for the 1st to 10th decile, and $ 470 for the 11th to 20th decile. With about over one million households, does it mean that about 90,000 non-retiree households are still surviving on only $ 160 average monthly income from work per household member?
The 1st to 10th decile among employed households had the lowest number of working persons at 1.28, supporting the highest number of average persons in the household of 3.92 persons. Generally, the larger the average household size, the lower were the average number of working persons. This trend persisted until the 70th percentile for average number of working persons.
Number of part-timers has more than doubled over the decade from 51,400 to 112,300 expanding their share of employment from 3.5% to 6.3%. The median monthly income for part-timers is still the same at $ 500 compared to 10 years ago. In view of the 118 per cent increase in part-timers for the last decade, does it mean that more residents are working for income of $ 500 that has not changed for 10 years?
Since "retiree households who had no income from work comprised 5% of all resident households in 2006", and "8.5% of resident households had 0 number of working persons", does it mean that 3.5% or about 37,000 households are not retired but have no income from work ? How many of these - about 37,000 households are living with no income from work, because they have sufficient funds to sustain themselves indefinitely or for a prolonged period of time?
Whilst the Resident labour force increased by 27 per cent for the last 15-year period from 1.373 to 1.737 million, Unemployed Residents increased by 149 per cent from 28,000 to 69,600. This means that the Resident labour force increased by 1.6 per cent per annum, and Unemployed Residents increased by 6.3 per cent per annum.
Dimemsions relating to expenditure:-
2. As at the end of last year, banks have repossessed 1,445 HDB flats financed with bank loans since the start of bank origination in January 2003. In recent months, the rate is about 60 cases a month. This means that 1.6 per cent of HDB flats on bank loans have been foreclosed. 7 per cent of the 89,000 HDB flats with bank loans which is about 6,230 HDB flat owners have not been able to pay for more than 3 months. Some of these may become foreclosures.
From 2002 to 2006, some 360 households voluntarily surrendered their flats after defaulting on their HDB concessionary loan repayments. HDB's annual report said that it provided financial assistance to 28,386 flat-owners in its last financial year, Does this mean that 28,386 flat-owners had difficulty paying their HDB concessionary loan monthly repayments or HDB rental?
In the HDB's last two offers of 2-room flats, about 42 per cent of the applicants were 55 years and older, and 56 per cent had household incomes of less than $ 1,000 a month.
3. According to the Yearbook of Statistics Singapore, water, electricity and gas tariffs increased by 8.6, 2.8, and 4.2% per annum from 1995 to 2005, against inflation of just 1%. The number of electricity accounts in arrears is about 3,600 and the number of Pay-As-You Use (PAYU) meters is about 12,500.
4. MediFund paid out $40m to 290,000 Medifund applications approved last year. Does this mean that the average Medifund payout per patient was about $138? According to the Ministry of Health's (MOH) web site, "for FY2001, a total of 157,190 Medifund applications were considered, of which 156,780 applications or 99.7% were approved, amounting to a total disbursement of $27.2m ". Does this means that the average Medifund payout per patient in 2001 was about $174? Why is it that the average Medifund payout per patient has declined from $174 in 2001 to $138 last year, when as I understand it, the average costs of hospitalisation have gone up? According to MOH's "Affordability of Healthcare Data", the average hospital bill size for Class C was $858 and $495 at the 50th percentile. So, does this mean that some needy patients may still be financially stressed in having to pay the shortfall between their bill and the Medifund payout, by instalments to the hospital after their discharge?
According to the MOH's web site, polyclinics "served about 100,000 dental patients". According to the DOS, there were about 104,900 households in the 0 to 10th decile with no income from work and about 104,900 households with average income of $1,180 in the 11th to 20th decile. Each visiting the public dental services once a year, would total about 377,640 dental attendances per year (assuming 3.6 average household number of persons x about 104,900 households with average income of $1,180 in the 11th to 20th decile, and that all the 0 income households are mostly retirees and others who can afford private dental care). How many can afford the private dental consultation rates starting from $45 compared to the polyclinics' rates from $12 to $20.50 for adult Singapore citizens, and from $6 to $10.50 for children and the elderly? Since the polyclinics only served about 100,000 attendances last year, and some went to private dentists under the Primary Care Partnership Scheme (PCPS) and about 3,000 under the Public Assistance (PA) scheme, where did the rest of the lower-income Singaporeans go to for dental treatment?
5. The Ministry of Education helped 35,000 school children in its Financial Assistance Scheme.
At the announcement of the setting up of the ComCare Fund on 19 January 2005, it was said that the five Community Development Councils (CDCs) handled 35,000 hardship cases in 2004, granting almost $ 40 million in assistance. Why is it that it would appear that about two years later, the amount of assistance given out has only increased by 70 per cent ($ 68 divided by $ 40 million), against an increase of 157 per cent in the number of needy families (90,000 divided by 35,000) ?
About 60,000 Singaporeans did not sign up for the Progress Package.
6. In 2005, the $4 million Public Transport Fund set up and funded by SMRT, SBS, Comcare Fund, the 5 CDCs, SLF and NTUC, received more than 92,000 applications for 80,000 vouchers worth $50 each. The funding organisations pitched in with the $600,000 needed to pay for the extra vouchers. The total of $4.6 million divided by $20 means that about 230,000 people received about $20 each to help pay for the transport fares increase in 2005. Even if we assume that all the about 104,900 households in the 0 to 10th decile with no income from work are retirees and others who can afford the fares increase, we are still missing about 147,640 (377,640 (3.6 persons x about 104,900 households with average income of $1,180 in the 11th to 20th decile) - 230,000). Does this mean that they did not apply for transport vouchers?
7. According to studies at the National University of Singapore, the average propensity to consume (APC) which is measured as the ratio of private consumption expenditures to GDP, has fallen steadily over time from 0.82 in 1960 to 0.43 in 2003.This has produced the lowest ratio of private consumption to output in the free world.
Dimensions relating to net worth:-
8. Household Net Worth increased by 3.8 per cent per annum from $ 548 to $ 660 billion from 2000 to 2005. However, after adjusting for inflation, CPF contributions and the interest on CPF balances, and cash savings and investments, does. it mean that household net worth may actually have declined?
65, 69 and about 75 per cent of CPFIS investors did not beat the 2.5 per cent interest on the CPF Ordinary Account for the first 9, 10, and 11 years of the scheme on a cumulative basis. What were the statistics after 12 and 13 years of the scheme ?
Other dimensions:-
9.Last year, there were 120,000 ex-offenders whose records were spent, 11,000 ex-offenders are being released every year, plus the current 14,453 prison population - how many ex-offenders in total are there in Singapore , since only those convicted of minor crimes and who remain crime-free for five years may have their records marked as spent and those convicted of serious offences and jailed for more than three months or fined more than $ 2,000 cannot have their records erased ? According to the World Prison Population List of King's College London International Centre for Prison Studies, the prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population) for Singapore, at 350, was the fifth highest in the world.
10. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook Database September 2006, Singapore is ranked number one in the world for current account balance in percent of GDP ratio. Singapore's ratio of 28.5 in 2006, is more than double the second ranked country, Switzerland's ratio of 13.3. Singapore's US$132 (S$205) billion foreign reserves has been ranked number one in the world on a per capita basis.
The Budget Debate is over. Like a company making its strategic plans and setting its goals for the future, perhaps we could look at some of the above statistics, with the view that some of them may be considered useful as benchmarks for measuring Singapore's progress and performance in the future.
Some of the above may also help some of us in thinking about what we hope to achieve and concerns to address for our future.
Leong Sze Hian

Dr Oz bloke said...

Dear Elaina Chong,

The taxes in other countries may be high. But there is a reason for it. For example health care is provided for all the people regardless of income and status. Of course that costs a lot.

Personally I think we should not be denying people health care services just because they cannot pay. This should be approached from a somewhat socialist point of view.

You may be relatively young now. But when you are old and healthcare costs are burdgeoning....well have you ever asked what we pay tax for in Singapore? It's not like we DO NOT HAVE TO PAY ANY TAX in Singapore you know.

Anyway I would think that the model plan for most Singaporeans would be to use Singapore as the platform or vehicle to make as much money as you can and then retire somewhere that covers healthcare for its people. I am sure many foreigners in Singapore are thinking the same.

Would you not agree?

In that case I wouldn't call Singapore a country at all. It is a company that we work in. And our Ministers are not political leaders, they are business leaders, more like managers and CEOs.

Elaina Olivia Chong said...

Dear Dr Oz bloke
I see why you might think that FREE health care is attractive; only I don’t know how many young and healthy individuals can; and happily “paying for it”. It is only when crises hit that the realizations of such reforms become pertinent. Quite like our organ donation “opt out” scheme, there is an argument that many of us should “opt out” (I don’t need to draw the specific reference because there is already sufficient vehemence online). But many would turn around and realize such a scheme would be a God-Sent IF it happened to you and I. What, may I ask, presently exists to convince you and I sufficiently, to plough money into a charitable coffer in the name of free medical for All citizens? Would you make the pledge “from a socialist point of view” as you say? Such a policy would be a frightful to implement, no? (especially after the NKF incident?) Even if we did, would many now - who are by the way, petitioning for an “opt out” -subscribe to paying extra in taxes to help those in need? Healthcare as a free-for-all requires a buy-in from all of our citizens to work. I’m sure you very well know that. Tell me how you will convince our populace my friend