Debate on Ministerial Salaries in 1985: Lee Kuan Yew, Chiam See Tong and J. B. Jeyaretnam

Excerpt from Parliamentary Debate on 22 March 1985:

Mr Chiam See Tong rose –

The Prime Minister (Lee Kuan Yew): Yes, please. I have been waiting for the opportunity to give you the chance.

Mr Chiam See Tong: Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, Sir, Dr Toh Chin Chye, one of the founders of the PAP, in November 1954, stated:

‘That a country big or small shall be great only if the spirit of the people is great.’

Mr Jeyaretnam: That’s right.

Mr Chiam See Tong: Now, after 25 years, I wonder whether the spirit of the people can be as great as the spirit which the PAP first had. I think it is a pity and it is a very sad thing that now we have to get people in –

Mr Jeyaretnam: By money.

Mr Chiam See Tong: – with attractive rewards. I really subscribe to this very great aim of the PAP when it first started and I hope it can still have this aim.

Does the Prime Minister believe that competition will increase efficiency? If he does, I think he should allow a fair competition between the Opposition and the PAP Members. I have been voted into Potong Pasir but I find that my hands are tied, The Sennett Estate Community Centre was suddenly taken away from me, used for some –

The Prime Minister: You are suggesting the Minister is corrupt?

Mr Chiam See Tong: No, no. I am talking about fair competition. Let us have a chance to work with the residents in our constituency.

The Chairman: We are talking about Ministers’ salaries.

The Prime Minister: We are talking about Ministers’ salaries.

Mr Chiam See Tong: We are talking about salaries and the type of society we want to maintain. If you want to get the Ministers to do well, you should not just pay them, but get them into competition. That is what I am saying. Yes, compete with us, increase their efficiency. I do not think you need just to pump money into them. Let us have competition. I think this will really increase efficiency, rather than just paying them double salaries, or whatever it is that is going to be proposed. Let us have good, friendly, competition. Let us have it. It is good for the nation. Let us work. Give us a chance at Potong Pasir. Appoint us to the RCs and CCs as advisers.

The Prime Minister: Wait till you become a Minister, then you will get to be in charge of everything.

Mr Chiam See Tong: The PAP Members are automatically appointed advisers. Why are we not? What are they afraid of? It is not necessary by pay alone. Let us have competition, increase their efficiency, give them a good cutting edge, as the Prime Minister used to say.

The Chairman: I do not understand what you are talking about.

Mr Jeyaretnam: Mr Speaker, Sir, the Prime Minister keeps talking about, “Let’s have a sense of proportion.” This is what I am trying to urge upon the Prime Minister, believe me, to have a sense of proportion. And I think you will get that if you compare the responsibilities and the duties of your office with the responsibilities and duties of office in other countries, and then begin to see what they are paid and what the Ministers are paid here.

In my Table that I have presented, the Prime Minister gets nearly four times what the Prime Minister in the United Kingdom gets, and what the Prime Minister in New Zealand gets. And three times more than what the Prime Minister in Malaysia gets. Is the Prime Minister of the view that his salary should be equated to the President of the United States? Because he is the only one who is getting more. He is getting $45,000 while the Prime Minister here is getting $30,976.

The Prime Minister: The simple answer to that, Mr Speaker, is: if I were allowed to retire and then enlisted back into the service, I would be getting more. Simple,

Mr Jeyaretnam: I do not understand that.

The Prime Minister: Let me explain.

Mr Jeyaretnam: Please, do that.

The Prime Minister: My colleagues, with the exception of Mr Rajaratnam, the Minister for the Environment, who was a Lecturer in the University when he first joined us, and the Minister for Home Affairs, they would all walk back into better paid jobs. It is as simple as that. This is the quality of men we are looking for. I do not want to belabour this point. But I am looking for good men who can do the job. You can get any number of people to become Ministers. But can they discharge their obligations honourably, competently? If you want that quality of manpower, and those of us who have attended CPA meetings must know, you can compare and contrast. We know that the quality of the Members of Parliament has visibly risen and with it the quality of the Ministers. The two are related.

The Chairman: Mr Prime Minister, you have only two minutes left.

The Prime Minister: I would not wish to have it said that the Member for Potong Pasir was prevented from making his point about $600 one day for a Minister and $600 one month for a poor worker. I gave him every opportunity. The debate was set aside for two hours and extended for another half hour in order to take on two snide remarks, one from the Member for Potong Pasir and another from the Member for Queenstown.

I think it will not be the last time it is said, but let me assure the House, nor will it be the last time I will belabour this point. You want this gyroscope to spin, even on the edge of the table, you keep the instrument clean, in fine condition, so that it will spin without friction. Any sense of distortion, authority and discretion has been exercised other than honestly, that is the end.

Come down to the #ReturnOurCPF 4 protest on 27 September 2014 at 4pm at Hong Lim Park. You can join the Facebook event page here.

#ReturnOurCPF 4 Poster 2 final

Return Our CPF 4 Poster 1b


  1. landragon123

    We knew that Singapore is not a country in the eyes of the PAP and it was known as PAP Incorpation, a company run as a country. That is now there changing Singapore into a STATE. There now a banner hang up in Holland Village, asking if we are a State, country or City and it is put up by Tiger now own by German and FN now owns by the Thai. Century old company and brand, sold to fund the PAP as LSY was the Appointed Director who get his bonus closing the deals.

    We now needs money so badly, selling national heritage for money to funz MRS. Lee’s venture into China and other 3rd world countries. How many of this investments made MONIES, Please tell US?

  2. Rachel Tan

    All I sense here is GREED. In USA, it is against the constitution for the minister to argue his pay raise. Even if approved, it should be for the next cohort. I see self serving greed in PAP. This party would be thrown out the parliament long ago if this is USA. Imagine Obama demanding every US citizen to pay him $1 each to manage the nation.

  3. clueless

    His brilliant argument is that bill gate will make a better minister than him. Or someone of his calibre cleans the toilet better?

  4. GE 2016 - National Referendum On CPF

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
    Right now, I think the PAP government is Singapore’s weakest link.
    PM Lee had 10 years to prove himself and his cabinet.
    It’s time to change government.

  5. newsasia

    只要李总理的天价薪水招牌还在继续,他天花乱坠的电视对话就是欺诈人民的行动还在继续 !
    As long as the signboard of Prime Minister Lee’s astronomical salary still continue, his television dialogue of hype and fraud people still continue !

  6. PM Lee's descendants would be a pig.

    李显龙还有脸到处演讲 ?他凭什么鼓励年轻一代 ? 凭他自己是世界贪心第一名吗 ?他的钱都是从人民的口袋积累起来,给他一捆一捆绑回家。贪得无厌的他, 行为都站不直的人,必须下台 !

    他继续推行老人做工的虐待政策,猪脑袋 !难道他不知道体力工和脑力工都不能超过55岁,否则,就是慢性自杀。他们和做办公室工不一样,如果每个老人和他一样拿天价薪水, 当然永远不要退休啦。


    Lee Hsien Loong is still no sense of shame ? speech everywhere, because of his income had reached 100 millions took from our pocket ? he encourage the younger generation just because he is the top greedy man ? shamed !

    he even can not stand upright behavior, he must step down !
    He continued implementation abuse of elderly policy , the pig head! Does not he know that physical work and mental work can not be over 55 years old, otherwise, is chronic suicide. They are not the same with office work, if he give elderly the same astronomical salary as him, of course, elderly have motivation forever !

    He insisted himself to take the astronomical pay every day, but never give any benefits for the elderly, he can not escape an punishment, and his descendants would be a pig.

    • paray

      The world is changing & adjusting , only those who used to take people’s money, don’ t want to pay back , so don’t want to change, the money, that is a mangy dog’s behavior
      We people want PAP out !
      We take over the GIC and Temasek
      we give Elderly daily basic rice
      Singaporeans PM’s salary must be the same the American president almost on the line.

      Lee Hsien Loong, please resign immediately !
      Looked like the same person for 10 years played the movie, the audience would have tired.

  7. paray

    our CPF with a deed for our welfare once we reach age 55
    what is the deed ? — no touch, no change, no postpone , whatever WHO you are !
    but PAP touched it, changed it , postpone it !
    PAP unilateral breach of contract, forced us continue CPF again ?
    that is an rape !
    PAP Must make compensation for delay.

    if we save it with bank, we can withdraw any time, not until we die still Money in PAP’s hand !
    that is an rape !

    PAP must get out !!!
    LHL must step down now !
    Roy can be one of our leader is , much possible!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Si Yuan

    Our politicians should be well-paid and experienced people from the business or legal community, not the unemployed who have trouble accurately wielding a calculator or paring twenty pages of adhoc thoughts into a well-honed argument.

    • Pandaeyes

      In other words…you distinguish a good rich slave from a bad bum slave…the former slave whose spit is more valuable than gold dust should naturally lead . Understandably, you don’t want a bad bum slave who pick nose and has no clue of curry dripping from her mouth during a meal. I am with you.

      • Si Yuan

        At least can write the thoughts in 50 words like you and I , rather than 50 million words like Roy Ng.

  9. 笑傲江湖

    A civilized country, the distribution of wealth in terms of population, rather than the intellect and Partisan,
    Even a criminal, but also to ensure food to eat every day,

    PAP leaders put our states welfare into their own astronomical salaries, therefore, they have collected & withdraw the next 50 years money in advance , then they turn back forced we Elderly work until we die with automatically give up the rights of welfare share.

    PAP is so low despicable.
    hope the people of Singapore by the International Tribunal for the prosecution of Lee government scam. Not only get back our CPF, but also compensate all the losses. Including welfares originally every citizen have the right of a share from the state, but now after PAP ‘s cheating story trap years by years , all people’s rights has become nothing.

    Singapore’s Prime Minister, the sorely wicked Chinese leader in the world .they must go to the real First Wold country to learn, stay in their family for 3 months, then come back to be be an real human being .

    一个文明的国家,根据人口与人民分配福利, 而不是根据智力和党派, 即使是对罪犯,也必须保证每天食物充足。PAP 他们自己几个人把国家的福利, 放在他们的天价薪水里面,他们已经把后面50年的工钱一次性提取完毕了, 回来要求人民放弃一份福利的权利,做到老死。PAP 手法低级,卑鄙。
    希望新加坡人民通过国际法庭起诉他们的骗局。不但要拿回自己的CPF, 而且,要他们赔偿一切损失。 包括福利部分该。本来每人都有一份, 现在被PAP连哄带骗,什么都没了。新加坡总理,是全世界最缺的的华人领导人。

  10. Pingback: How PAP Created Inequality in Singapore: Will Singapore Collapse? | The Heart Truths
  11. Pingback: Poor Singaporeans Have to Work for 272 Years to Earn What the Singapore Prime Minister Earns in One Year | The Heart Truths
  12. teoenming

    Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Want Teo En Ming Dead

    Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong want Teo En Ming dead. Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong want Teo En Ming to die young. I am only 36 years old. I do not want to die

    young. I want to live to a hundred years old and beyond!!!

    Teo En Ming has filed an official complaint against the Singapore Government at the United Nations Human Rights Council Branch and the International Criminal Court. Read the letter here:


    Teo En Ming’s Open Letter (Plea for Medical Help/Assistance) to World Leaders dated 27 Aug 2010. Read the letter here:

    Mr. Teo En Ming (Zhang Enming)
    Singapore Citizen
    Republic of Singapore

  13. Pingback: Lee Kuan Yew: On Ministers’ Salaries | Singapore Politics: Blog

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