news 060112 – minister pay and national pastimes

I’ve been following the unfolding of the revaluing of Ministers’ pay in Singapore with mild interest. But yesterday, after chatting with some ex-colleagues over lunch about this topic, I felt more interested. As of now, there has been a proposed change to the formula for ministerial pay including a 65% fixed and 35% variable components (article: here). I’m rather confused by all these numbers, but what I zoomed in on was the removal of the pension system and a reworking of the bonus system, to be pegged not just on GDP, but other measures too. Overall, I think the pay cuts are quite substantial – especially the 51% cut proposed for the President. This was more than I initially expected. I’m also quite happy that bonuses will be tied with measures like performance of the bottom 20% of society – as ministers will then be even more motivated to achieve equitable progress for all, not just GDP and other figures. More human, la.

My colleagues were not so forgiving, though. One said she was not satisfied with the cuts, and wanted more, while the other noted that dissatisfaction and a general air of complaint have been festering too long, for months in fact, all the way from GE2011. I think this can be seen also from the backlash Grace Fu received after she posted a comment on her facebook page (article: here). I just checked at there were over a thousand replies!

I understand how her comment might irk some, because she mentions an unwillingness for her standard of living to drop, and there is a perceived discrepancy between her standard and the majority’s standard. This can lead to outrage as the majority cannot imagine her standard. But you must see where both sides are coming from. And I do agree with her in that for private sector individuals who are earning much more, stepping into politics would not be attractive because of the factors she mentioned, like loss of privacy, and earning less.

On the other hand, others have also commented that ministers should be motivated by more than just money, perhaps an altruistic commitment to better society and help people? Ultimately, I agree that a minister pay cut would discourage some of the real top echelon from switching; but I think that there are others to fill this void, some who are motivated by more than just pay – perhaps a real desire to effect changes that improve the lives of Singaporeans.

Oh well. I’ve seen Grace Fu in person, as she attended our church community outreach efforts, and I think she really makes the effort to know her constituency and help her residents, so I respect her for that. Sooo maybe we just need to take a step back and consider each others’ positions and justifications for saying certain things. Yeah, but Singaporeans love to complain. A while back, CNA found that Singaporeans’ top three hobbies are eating, shopping, and surfing the internet. (Article: here) Hahaha, how boring, right? It’s so true, though. Eating is one thing that really unites us. I have the impression that photography is the world’s top hobby, and fish-keeping is second, but I’m not too certain. Certainly, photography sounds more atas / refined than eating! I think we should add complaining to one of our top national hobbies too!

Random edit: found a nice reply by Dyaa to the question, “Why are eating and shopping national pastimes in Singapore?” (website: here




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