The honest and open greed of the PAP cabinet is well expressed by the inaptly named Grace Fu (graceful), a Singapore senior minister of state:
############# Postscript ###################
"If the pay is not competitive, then it's just another obstacle to people who have got something valuable to add to Singapore,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on January 17, 2012 in a speech at Parliament to discuss ministerial pay.
"Grace Fu was completely right on this point. She got flamed online but she was honest to point this out," he added. (source)
So it's now official: Grace Fu's sentiment is exactly that of the entire overpaid and smug ("We are the top talent in the nation") PAP cabinet.
Says Molly Meek (here):
Fu’s [and PAP's] assumption is probably beyond the grasp of lower life forms, but it is quite simple: the people who are suitable for political office and hence are considering it are the people who earn significantly more than what a minister earns.
As such, if the pay gets any lower, their quality of life can be adversely affected if they decide to join politics. It is unreasonable for us to expect anyone to become a beggar just to serve the people.
On the other hand, those of us who actually earn significantly less than what a minister earns and do not find it difficult to accept the pathetic ministerial pay package are not in a position to consider joining politics because our low pay reflects our lack of talent and competence.
Remember, Singapore is a meritocratic society and the highest earners are the most talented people. If we have less talented people governing Singapore, Orchard Road will flood, the trains will stop moving and there will be insufficient foreign talents in Singapore. In other words, Singapore will be destroyed.
Mr Wang says (here):
My blog post is entitled "Grace Fu Should Consider Resignation". Sounds sensationalist, doesn't it? But it isn't really. (I'm not that kind of blogger, lah). Let me just explain my thinking.
It goes like this - if any minister is really very unhappy with his or her pay, then he or she can always quit. It's not like they are being forced to be ministers.
Unhappy employees don't perform well - we know that from our own experiences in working life. It is better for the company if they quit. It is better for themselves too, for they can go elsewhere and find another job that is more satisfying for them.
Why would we expect things to be any different for our ministers? If they are not happy with their pay, they won't perform well. They should just quit and get a more lucrative job elsewhere (if they can, of course). After they resign as ministers, Singapore can replace them with new ministers who care less about the money, and care more about serving the nation.
So I say this to all the ministers - if you're not happy with your pay, please quit. Now, rather than five years later. Do yourself a favour, and do the country a favour. Just get out.
, Thursday 5 January 2012 (source)
Multi-billion dollar corruption in India and a whopping 36 percent cut in the salary for Singapore's Prime Minister have once again raised the question: how much should politicians be paid?
We've tallied up a list of Asia Pacific's highest paid politicians based on figures from a number of publicly available sources including The Economist.
Some of Asia's fastest growing and largest economies, such as India and China, have the lowest salaries for their leaders.
India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for example takes in just $36,200 per year, according to the AFP.
8. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia
Annual Salary: $124,000
President Yudhoyono, the leader behind Indonesia's newfound status as Asia's "economic golden child", pulls in $124,000 a year.
This sum amounts to over 25 times the country's GDP per capita, according to The Economist. The leader is working on narrowing the wealth gap in the country by raising the salary of civil servants by 10 percent in 2011.
The former army general is credited with initiating a crackdown on corruption.
7. Lee Myung-bak, President of South Korea
Annual Salary: $162,000
Keeping tensions under control on the Korea peninsula is no easy task.
Lee Myung-bak's annual salary which is set to rise to $162,000 this year, according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, from $156,000 in 2011, puts him at 7th place amongst Asia's top paid politicians.
However, Mr. Lee clearly isn't in the job for the money. Shortly after he was elected president, the former CEO of Hyundai Construction & Engineering pledged to donate his full salary to the underprivileged during his five-year term.
He was said to be the richest presidential candidate in South Korea's last election, with personal wealth exceeding 35.3 billion won or $31 million.
6. Ma Ying-jeou, President of Taiwan
Annual Salary: $184,000
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou rakes in a salary of $184,000 per year.
The Hong Kong-born, U.S.-educated lawyer has played an instrumental role in improving cross-strait relations.
Ma has raised the country's permit quota for Chinese tourists, eased restrictions on Taiwanese investment in China and approved measures to open Taiwan's equity markets to mainland investors.
5. John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand
Annual Salary: $310,000
Fifth on the list is the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key.
He takes home an annual salary of around $310,000, according to the Wall Street Journal. Impressive for some, but probably not for Mr Key.
Prior to politics, the Kiwi PM amassed a personal fortune of around $40 million, working as a foreign exchange trader with Merrill Lynch, where he earned as much as $2.25 million per annum.
He is now New Zealand's wealthiest Member of Parliament and one of the region's wealthiest leaders.
4. Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan
Annual Salary: $316,000
Japan's Yoshihiko Noda makes an annual salary of $316,000, according to The Asahi Shimbun newspaper. If you add in the regional allowance of 18 percent, he makes around $384,000 per year.
The rising strength of the Japanese yen has helped boost his earnings in dollar terms.
To put the number into perspective though, it's a mere fraction of the $10.7 million earned by the CEO of Nissan in 2010.
Still, with 6 prime ministers in 5 years, the Japanese leader might not be expecting to be on that salary for very long.
3. Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia
Annual Salary: $495,000
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard just got a significant 31 percent pay hike, taking her salary to $355,000 per year.
The Prime Minister however may have reason to cry poor because shadow ministers are getting pay hikes of 64 percent, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
But with retirement perks including a fully staffed office, unlimited free first class travel and a permanent driver for the rest of her life, the Prime Minister might not complain just now.
2. Donald Tsang, Chief Executive, Hong Kong
Annual Salary: $550,000
The salary of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong would probably be causing a few eyes to roll in Beijing.
Donald Tsang earns around $550,000 a year, according to Reuters. That's roughly 30 times the size of the $18,000 salary earned by Chinese President Hu Jintao.
But the perks of the job haven't come easily for Mr Tsang. He's been working in Hong Kong's public sector since 1967 and some might say no amount of money would be enough to compensate for that.
1. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister, Singapore
Annual Salary: $1.65 million
The Prime Minister of Singapore just took a salary cut of a whopping 36 percent, but he still makes a basic salary of $1.65 million (S$2.2 million).
That makes him far and away the highest paid politician anywhere in the world.
His salary is still 4 times the salary of President Barack Obama, who reportedly makes around $400,000 a year.
But it's not just the Prime Minister in Singapore earning big bucks. The Singapore President, who just had his salary cut by 51 percent, will make $1.2 million a year and new ministers will get salaries of $840,000 after the pay cut.