Minister’s millions

At the end of the day, it is the prosperity of us ordinary Singaporeans that should be the basis of judgement for ministerial performance. We have had to suffer cuts in CPF to help the nation tide through bad times and now we are required to contribute more in terms of GST. There hasn’t been any significant improvement to our lives to justify the significant pay increases for our ministers.

Some people will say that benchmarking against the lowest is wrong. But it is not any more wrong than benchmarking against the highest. One extreme is wrong doesn’t imply that the other extreme is correct.

The government’s main selling point is that if our highly mobile elites were to leave, our leadership would be badly shaken and we would all suffer as a consequence. The question we need to ask is why should our economy depend on just a few individuals to begin with?

To insist that the government control our entire economy is to place our future into the hands of a few elites, which may not be the wisest thing for us. It may have worked well in the past when things were a lot simpler. But with globalisation and increased technological leaps, it gets harder and harder for any individual or an elite for that matter to strike lottery. For if the elite were to fail, it would have dire consequences for us all. We need not look very far back to see how our infallible elites failed to pre-empt the mass exodus of electronics manufacturing to China to tell us just how fallible they can be and how much we suffered as a consequence.

Over reliance on the government is no good and it may be much better for economic decisions to spread throughout the population. Two heads are better than one and three non-elites beat one elite any time. So rather than pay a premium to keep those elites, let these elites dissipate throughout the economy which can only strengthen, not weaken our economy.

We only have to look at Hong Kong to see how a vibrant and entrepreneurial economy can prosper in the absence of a over-directive and highly monopolising government. In our quest to become more vibrant and entrepreneurial, perhaps all we need is for our government to fade into the background so that free market entreprise can come alive.

In the past, elites were elites for the simple reason that most of us ordinary folks were either illiterate or could not read English. But education standards of ordinary folks have improved substantially and we now have more straight As students coming from neighbourhood schools. This closing of the education gap makes it a lot more unacceptable to continue to maintain that elite / non-elite differentiation.

The government’s argument that a welfare state will weaken our nation is not put in the right context. The amount of welfare our people receives is so much less compared to what people in US and Germany receive. How can a few hundred dollars cripple a nation more than a few million dollars?


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