WP proposals on pay ‘not that different’

Dear Mr Vikram Nair,

I refer to the 18 Jan 2012 Straits Times report of your parliamentary comments.

You said “elitist” is too strong a word to describe pegging of ministerial salaries to the top 1,000 earners. Consider the following:

  • “the PAP leaders have an elitist view of human nature” from page 205 of the book “Public Administration Singapore-Style” by Jon S. T. Quah
  • “Policy formulation in Singapore is elitist in nature” from page 108 of the book “Management of success: the moulding of modern Singapore” edited by Kernial Singh Sandhu, Paul Wheatley
  • “a deeply entrenched elitist conception of how Singapore society should be structured. Lee Kuan yew articulated this clearly …” from page 174 of the book “Singapore in the new millennium: challenges facing the city-state” by Derek Da Cunha
  • “PAP government’s well entrenched elitist philosophy” from page 61 of the book “Educational decentralization: Asian experiences and conceptual contributions” by Christopher Björk
  • Thus, several authors didn’t feel “elitist” is too strong a word to describe the PAP government. Neither should it be too strong to describe pegging of ministerial salaries to the top 1,000 earners.

    You said the WP’s proposed $55,000 a month for an entry level minister is more than the committee’s proposed lowest monthly salary of $46,750. You are mistaken. The committee didn’t propose $46,750 for the entry level minister but for the senior minister of state instead. In fact, the committee proposed $55,000 as well for the entry level minister. As such, your claim that WP’s proposed $55,000 is $8,250 higher than the committee’s proposed $46,750 is false because it is based on the wrong salary of $46,750 meant for the senior minister of state instead. For the same reason, your claim that the WP’s proposal will result in $99,000 more a year is also false, as is your claim about the WP’s calculated bonus being based on a higher starting salary.

    You gave the impression that getting full six months bonus is difficult because real income growth of the average Singaporean and the lowest 20% has to be above 4%, unemployment must be 3.5% and real GDP growth must be at least 7%. Actually, it may not be so difficult. The Singaporean unemployment rate was 3.1%, 3.4%, 4.5%, 3.4% and 3.1% for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and Jun 2011 respectively. Thus, the target was met for all five years except 2009 due to the Global Financial Crisis. GDP growth target was met in 2007 and 2010. The annualised real income growth for the median and the 20th percentile Singaporean between 2006 and 2010 was 2.6% and 3.1% respectively, not far from the 4% target. It appears ministers only have to work a little harder to achieve the full bonus.

    You criticised the WP stating in 2006 and 2011, the need for salaries to be pegged to those of foreign leaders. But even for this time, the WP continued to stress the importance of comparing salaries to those of other First World nations. So they have not shrunk from that position. That position remains intact as clearly articulated in the parliament.

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