Monday, October 2

No pay rise for Singapore’s million-dollar ministers


Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (R) has a salary four times that of the US president, although Donald Trump has pledged to donate his. AFP file photo


SINGAPORE: Singapore government ministers were told Thursday their salaries will stay frozen despite a recommendation for a hike, but there was little sympathy in the city-state for the world’s best-paid politicians.

Ministerial salaries in the financial hub are the highest on Earth, with an entry-level minister paid Sg$1.1 million ($830,000) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earning an eye-watering Sg$2.2 million.

The government has argued the huge pay packets are necessary to attract top-calibre talent and prevent the corruption that afflicts other Asian countries.

But the issue has long attracted public anger, and the government responded to criticism by slashing salaries after a review in 2012.

A nine-member committee last year carried out the first review of ministers’ salaries since the reductions, and recommended an increase of nine percent.

But Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced in parliament there would be no raise, in response to questions from MPs about the review.

“The government has decided not to make any changes, and to maintain the current salary structure and level,” he said.

But far from being welcomed, the announcement only served to remind many Singaporeans of the sky-high compensation awarded to their public servants.

“No increase? How about deduction instead?” commented Facebook user Kevin Ng.

Another user on the site said: “Putting it bluntly, we do not need you to tell us why no increase, there should not be any increase at all, being the highest paid cabinet.”

Lee’s salary is the highest of any elected head of government in the world. The US presidential salary is $400,000 but billionaire Donald Trump has pledged to donate it. – AFP