S’pore’s future depends on leaders’ mettle

Dear Mr Lee,

I refer to your comments made at the Tanjang Pagar tree planting event as reported by the Straits Times on 9 Nov 2009.

You said that Mr Shanmugam is making $1.5 million a year now instead of $6 million a year when he was in private practice. Firstly, it doesn’t mean that a $6 million lawyer will be worth $1.5 million as a minister. It’s the same reason why a $1 million CEO may not be worth $50,000 as an engineer or technician.

Secondly, if anyone should begrudge his loss of salary, he should not take up office in the first place. There have been stories of corporate executives taking off their power suits to do voluntary work in third world countries. Because their passion to serve is real, these volunteers don’t begrude their loss of income and are truly happy. So if you have trouble finding and keeping ministers because of salary issues, don’t bother, just let them go, they are not worth it.

You say you can make two, three times what you are making now because every time you talk to foreign companies, they give you $100,000. That means you’d have to give about 40 to 60 talks each year or one talk per week. However, there doesn’t seem to be a newspaper report of a talk given by you each and every week is there? Also, is it not possible that when you’re no longer in office and forgotten, the number of companies that come knocking on your doors might also diminish?

You say that although Singapore’s population is small, its ministers can talk to their counterparts from the US and China as equals. Is that such a big deal? You mean ministers from Norway, Finland, New Zealand and Switzerland talk to their counterparts from the US and China like mice and squirrels?

You ask us to remember that it is not an election campaign but real life. Real life is that we’ve lost billions which we shouldn’t have lost if we had real calibre. We’re experiencing sky high property price inflation which we shouldn’t have experienced if we had real calibre. That’s real life.

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