1994 Debate on Ministers’ Salaries: Goh Chok Tong, Chiam See Tong and Low Thia Kiang

Excerpt from Parliamentary Debate on 31 October 19941 November 1994 and 3 November 1994:

31 October 1994:

Mr Chiam See Tong (Potong Pasir): Sir, President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. Today, we are in Parliament for exactly the opposite reason. The Ministers are not telling Singaporeans what they can do for them but are asking Singaporeans to pay them more money. It is not that long ago in this House, in January this year, that Ministers’ salaries were revised upwards to about $64,000 per month and the Prime Minister’s salary to about $96,000 per month. With that kind of salaries, most Singaporeans thought that the Prime Minister and the Ministers were already overpaid but apparently they thought otherwise. Now the Prime Minister and the Ministers want even more pay. Why do the Ministers want so much money for? People are already saying that to be appointed a Minister is like touching a lottery.

If we compare our Ministers’ salaries with those of the other developed countries listed in the table, which I have instructed the Clerk to distribute to Members, you will note that our Ministers earn about 2 1/2 times more than the President of the USA, 3 1/2 times more than the Australian Prime Minister, five times more than the Canadian Prime Minister, four times more than the Prime Minister of England, and nearly five times more than that of the Prime Minister of Sweden. If the Prime Ministers of those advanced countries can live on 1/5 to 1/4 of our Ministers’ salaries, why should our Ministers ask for more pay

How can our Ministers justify their salaries when we take the American President’s salary as a yardstick? The President of the USA is the Chief Executive of the country and is responsible for about 250 million people. Whereas a Minister in Singapore is not the Chief Executive of the country and there are only about 3 million people in Singapore. Can we say that our Ministers shoulder more responsibility than that of the President of the USA, or they do more work? Surely not. Whatever way we look at it, it is just not right to pay our Ministers so much more than that of the President of the USA.

The White Paper says that Singapore needs to pay our Ministers high salaries to attract competent men, to compensate them for the loss of their privacy and to prevent them from becoming corrupt. These reasons are faulty.

I do not believe that there are not enough competent men in Singapore who can qualify to be Ministers. The true position is that there are many good men out there who are of ministerial calibre. It is just that the PAP is unwilling to pick them for reasons of their own.

The Government could do the same by inviting good professionals with a record of integrity to become Ministers. Most professionals would be highly flattered and honoured when invited to become Ministers and would probably accept the invitation. I would think that most of them may not want to be Ministers for life, that is, until retirement due to old age but would certainly not mind doing a two term or two-and-a-half term stint.

In regard to the selection of Ministers, the Government should open its doors wider, as it did in the case of the selection of Judges and all the Ministerial posts would be quickly filled, instead of the situation now where some of the Ministers are made to take care of two Ministries.

As for corruption, I think the Government, after nearly 30 years in power, is now experienced enough, especially after the unfortunate appointment of past corrupt Ministers, like Tan Kia Gan, Wee Toon Boon and the late Teh Cheang Wan, not to appoint anyone who has the propensity to be corrupt. In any event, financial incentives cannot prevent a Minister from being corrupt. If a Minister is intent on being corrupt, the hefty salary will not satisfy him. It will make him only more greedy for more money. The high salary paid to him will allow him to enjoy a high standard of living, such as living in a nice house and purchase expensive cars which can be a veil of his ill-gotten money, if he were to be corrupt. So the argument that you pay a Minister well will prevent him to be corrupt is quite fallacious.

I am not saying that the Government should pay Ministers peanuts, neither am I advocating exorbitant salaries to make them millionaires once they are appointed.

I still believe that political leadership is a calling. Political leadership posts should not be turned into lucrative jobs. By turning those posts into lucrative jobs, we are not going to attract people motivated by a calling but people who are attracted to politics because of money.

The idea of setting benchmarks for Ministers’ salaries based on the top four highest private sector earnings in banking and amongst accountants, engineers, lawyers, CEOs of manufacturing companies and multi-national companies is objectionable. In principle, it is wrong. Ministers must at intervals of time come back to Parliament to ask for and justify their pay increases and also for the pay they are receiving. This principle of accountability of the Ministers in respect of their salaries must never be taken away. The day it is taken away, the seeds of corruption would have been sown.

How can we know for sure that once a benchmark, as proposed, has been set, the Ministers will not engineer to make sure that they get hefty pay increases every year by encouraging the private sector to increase the pay of its CEOs? After all, many of the big companies such as privatised Telecom and SIA are Government controlled. Also, many of the big manufacturing companies, banks and multi-nationals have close connections with the Government, as they can be influenced. If Ministers believe generally that they deserve pay increases and can justify them, what is there to be embarrassed or feel uncomfortable about. They should not be afraid to come to Parliament to ask for those pay increases. And if Ministers feel that it is not proper for them to canvass for their own pay increases which, in my view, is indeed not proper for Ministers to be asking for their own pay increases, they could get Government MPs or, even better still, get Backbenchers to do it for them.

Another way is to get an independent committee, like the National Wages Council, which determines workers’ wages, to study and recommend from time to time how much Ministers’ salary increases should be. Anyway, I think it is improper for Ministers to be asking for salary scales which would make them millionaires more than two times over in one term of office.

Ministers promote Asian values and Confucian teachings. Perhaps the Ministers in their more sombre moments, should take notice that Confucian teachings hold up yao and shan as models for other rulers to follow. They were unselfish and public spirited and believed that the position of the ruler should not be a source of wealth and personal benefit. I do not recommend that Ministers make big personal sacrifices like the Confucian models, neither do I advocate hefty pay increases as recommended in the White Paper.

What I am recommending is based on the principle that the Ministers’ job is a calling. It is a public service and cannot be anything else. If the Minister’s post is going to be another highly paid job, how can Ministers have the moral authority to lead the country? How can our Ministers be role models? How can they preach against materialism and warn of the decay of society once it wallows in materialism? The founders of modern Singapore preached against materialism. They called on the people to practise thrift, to sacrifice and to do hard work. Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself took a pay cut. That may have been the catalyst to Singapore’s success.


1 November 1994:

Mr Low Thia Khiang (Hougang)(In Mandarin): Mr Speaker, Sir, when I heard the Prime Minister’s speech in this House yesterday, I was very shocked. It seems like the future of our country will be determined by how much salary we give to our Ministers and top civil servants.

The logic of the Prime Minister is that the higher the pay the better we can attract the top talents to govern the country and there will be continuous growth in the economy, more safeguards to the people. Otherwise, the future of the country will be bleak.

He went on to point out that corrupt practices among politicians in the United Kingdom was due to their salaries being too low. The Prime Minister also said that the most important question is what kind of people we want to rule the country. This is indeed a question worth considering.

On this question, my intuitive reaction is that I do not want people who look to money to run the country. These people will be weighing their losses and gains in terms of money and the policy they embrace will surely be profit-oriented. Even if it results in huge economic growth year after year, and the Government coffer greatly enriched, the livelihood of the people need not necessarily be improved because the formulation and results of their policies will be determined purely from the angle of economic benefits only.

If the Prime Minister is presenting this White Paper to set a benchmark for the Ministers’ salaries based on the top earners in the private sector simply because the people with potential to be Ministers whom he contacted were not prepared to come forward to serve the nation due to the salaries being not sufficiently attractive, then I would suggest that he look again for some others who have the vision and are prepared to dedicate themselves to the nation.

If, after so many years of nation building, we cannot cultivate some talented people with dedication to serve the country, then I must say with great regret that our country is a failure.

If our country is facing this kind of problem today, the elites among our younger generation now would only look at money, then the PAP Government should make an overall review on whether their philosophy of running the country is out of balance, and whether it has been putting too much emphasis on utilitarianism and elitism.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Laotze said, “Do not esteem the wise so as to prevent strife among the people. Do not value the scarce goods so as to prevent robbery. Do not make desire visible so as not to disturb the minds of the people.” Of course, we are not saying that we should not value the wise. What we are saying is that we should not over-emphasize elitism and materialism so that the desire of the people becomes stronger and stronger, resulting in their being obsessed with the desire for gain.

The Prime Minister also mentioned about corruption in society. Corruption arises because of greed and because of greed they become corrupted and polluted. So if we over-emphasise money and the society becomes such that so long as you have money you can call the shots, then no matter how much you pay them, they will be asking for even more. I think the complexity of this matter is far beyond the question of salary, as suggested by the Prime Minister. It is not that simple!

Mr Speaker, Sir, as a matter of fact, the sacrifice made by those who enter politics and serve the people cannot be measured by money alone. Some former Presidents of the United States of America were assassinated. Even President Clinton has also faced an attempt made on his life. This is a matter of life and death, not something which can be compensated by salary. So to debate on how to reduce the sacrifices of people who enter politics by monetary compensation is, by itself, an insult to the politicians and statesmen. We should adhere to the principle that so long as the Minister can maintain a comfortable lifestyle, with adequate safeguards for his present living and life after retirement, it would be sufficient to keep him working with peace in mind.

Since the Government is insisting on measuring in the light of utilitarianism, and has published the White Paper to support its argument, do allow me to present my views on the contents of the White Paper.

First of all, let me look at the question whether it is equitable to peg the Minister’s pay with that of the private sector. The White Paper suggested taking the average income from six selected professions as the benchmark for the Ministers’ salaries. This figure is $1.217 million. This is based on the average income from the six professions in 1992.

The present salary of Ministers is more than $60,000 per month, and it will be further increased after it is pegged with the private sector. According to the annual report of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), 141 residents of Singapore had income of more than one million dollars in 1992. But in 1993, some 394 people had income of more than $5 million.

So if we take these top four income earners in the six professions as the benchmark for the Ministers and top civil servants’ salaries, and the top earners’s income keeps on increasing substantially, then the salaries of the Ministers and top civil servants will be raised correspondingly. I fear that in future the salaries of Ministers and top civil servants will become a heavy burden to Singapore.

On the other hand, according to the 1990 Population Census, more than 70% of our workforce earn less than $1,500. So if you use the income of just a handful of super-high income earners as the benchmark, and ignoring the great disparity among the incomes of the people of Singapore in general, is it reasonable?

Secondly, looking at the nature of work and the motivation, the objective of the private sector is to make money. If an employee can make so much money for his company, he deserves to be paid a salary in accordance with his contribution. From a personal point of view, this is reasonable and just, seemly and fitting. But the motivation of the Ministers and the top civil servants is to serve the people. The nature of their work is to run the country with the power of the Government, and it is their job to run the country well. Just because the economy has been booming, the private sector has been reaping in huge profits, and their employees are getting high salaries, the Government wants to peg the Ministers’ salaries to the private sector. Do not tell me that the Government is suffering from the politics of envy Ž envious of other people’s high salaries.

With so much emphasis on the Administrative Service and the huge increase in the salaries of the top Administrative Officers, it seems that in future, the formulation and implementation of Government policies will rely substantially on these senior and superscale civil servants, and the Ministers will have these highly paid Administrative Officers to work for them, and their workload will therefore be reduced considerably. Why then are the Ministers getting a pay rise?

In order to show that they are “worth more than what they are paid” as mentioned by a Member in this House, these administrative elites sitting in the ivory tower will think of ways and means to make more profits for the Government. Yes, this will of course create more wealth for the country, but what will happen to the livelihood of the people?

Thirdly, work security. In Singapore, so long as the civil servants and Ministers do not make a serious mistake, their jobs can be said to be an “iron rice bowl”. With the huge pay rises in recent years, this “iron rice bowl” has become a “golden rice bowl”. This golden rice bowl, even in spite of an economic downturn, will be strong and stable, with no fear of being broken.

For instance, in 1985, when we were facing recession, many private sector employees were retrenched. They were completely helpless. But the Ministers and civil servants continued to get the same pay and they were enjoying themselves in the recession. Furthermore, so long as the Ministers have completed 10 years’ service, they will get a handsome pension for their retirement. The employees in the private sector will have to work until 60 years of age before they can retire, and after that they have to fend for themselves.

According to the World Bank report, in Japan, and some successful economics in Asia, including Singapore, when a successful official retires, he will get a lot of rewards, much more than their salaries, benefits and allowances.

In most cases, our Ministers and top civil servants, after retirement, will be invited to take up richly-paid positions in the public or private sector. As such, our Ministers and top civil servants enjoy certain security even after their retirement.

The White Paper makes no mention of the special status and safeguards enjoyed by top civil servants and the Ministers, nor any objective comparison of the nature and risk of their job with that in the private sector, but simply uses the average income of a handful of top earners in the private sector as the benchmark for the Ministers’ salaries. This, I feel, is an attempt to hoodwink the people. I do not think we should accept this kind of rash benchmarking.

If we want to set standards and benchmarking for top civil servants and Ministers, then it should be comparing like with like. We should compare ourselves with countries like Switzerland, etc, according to the land area, the population size, the income of the people, the economic growth and the complexity of politics. We must compare also with the pay given to the Ministers and top civil servants in other countries and then adjust them according to the circumstances of Singapore to fix this kind of benchmark.

The White Paper also mentions that in some countries, a larger part of their ministers’ salary is camouflaged by non-monetary rewards such as free housing, cars, expense account, overseas holidays, etc.

The PAP Government has all along been well-known for its effective use of statistics. They should have no difficulty evaluating the worth of these hidden perks in terms of cash value. Why does not the PAP Government do that? Why should you compare chickens with ducks? This is very unconvincing!

Mr Speaker, Sir, here I would like to talk about the basic argument of the White Paper “Competitive Salaries for Competent and Honest Government” and, that is, what the Lianhe Zaobao described as “High pay to keep the worthy and good remuneration to keep the honest”.

First of all, when we describe someone as being “a person of virtue” or a worthy person, we refer not only to his ability and wisdom but also his integrity and superior character. So if you suggest using money to keep the worthy and encourage them to look at money for whatever thing they do, then it is an insult to the bona fide worthy person. Even for an ordinary person, money is not the only factor of consideration when you come to work. If our country is to be ruled by the so-called “worthy” people who are money-oriented, then it would be disastrous for the country and the people!

“Good remuneration to keep the honest” is also a problem. In the past, there were some cases of corruption involving our Ministers and top civil servants. Does this imply that their remuneration was not good enough? Now with this huge increase in pay, do you think the Government can assure the people of Singapore that there will be no more corruption? Then, if there are junior civil servants being found to be corrupt, will the Government consider giving them a hefty pay rise because their remuneration is not good enough?

Human desire for material gains is insatiable. Do you really believe that you can keep the talented and the honest just by giving them high salaries? How high must their salaries be to be considered enough? Using the excuse of wanting to keep the talented and the honest to give the Ministers and top civil servants hefty pay rises will certainly leave us completely bewildered!

Of course, I am not asking the Ministers and top civil servants to serve Singapore for free. We all know that in Singapore, apart from the air and the haze we are having now, nothing is for free.

Mr Speaker, Sir, with the PAP having a commanding majority in this House, of course, this salary benchmarking will be approved. In future, the problem will be treated as solved, once and for all. There will be no need to debate the Ministers’ pay. Every year, on 1st July, their salaries will automatically be increased. There is no longer any need to wait for three to five years to get a pay rise. They can have their pay rise in a grand and imposing manner along with the big bosses in the private sector. The boat will rise with the rising tide and their pockets will be full.

If the PAP Government is sincere in wanting to get the feedback from the people, and to convince the people that the salaries of the Ministers are reasonable and appropriate to the situation in our country, then they should not be acting too hastily in wanting to have the White Paper forcibly endorsed in Parliament. They should provide all the information that I mentioned above to allow the people to make some comparative studies. They should also make this an election platform for the next General Election so that the people will have the opportunity of discussing it extensively, and showing through the ballot box whether they support or reject the recommendation of the White Paper.


Mr Chiam See Tong: Sir, the NMP has suggested that a referendum be held. A referendum would probably be the best forum to get public opinion on the issues that we are debating, ie, whether to peg the Ministers’ salaries to the private sector salaries based on the six professions and whether or not to do away with the need to come back to Parliament to review Ministers’ salaries. I think these two are important principles and members of the public should have a say.

Singapore holds Switzerland as a model. As Members know, in Switzerland, they often hold referendum on national issues, and even on local issues. But what does not suit Singapore, even if it holds Switzerland as a model, it would not follow what Switzerland did.

As far as I know, on record, the Prime Minister has never agreed to any referendum called by the Backbenchers. The next best thing, of course, is to have this issue decided at the elections. But there is a problem in calling for this issue to be decided at the elections because, inevitably, the PAP will be returned to power and the Government can give the excuse, “There, you are, we have the mandate.” But even if this issue were to be discussed and debated in the elections, I would say that if there is a loss of more seats to the Government or there is a further drop in percentage of votes, it would mean that the public has rejected what the Government proposes in the White Paper. I think that should be the true interpretation of election results. On that basis, I would agree that the recommendations contained in the White Paper be debated at the elections.

In the case of what the Government is advocating, the Ministers’ pay will be pegged to a salary scale, equivalent to a salary scale, and there is automatic increment. I believe one of the Ministers has said that the prospects look good for Singapore for the next 10 years. So the Ministers can be assured of pay rises for the next 10 years, unless the Deputy Prime Minister is saying that the economy is going to have a down slide within the next few years, which I do not think so.

An hon. Member: So?

Mr Chiam See Tong: So do you not agree with me that Ministers’ pay will be going up for the next 10 years? As the economy grows, the private sector businesses increase, their CEO will be paid higher. Therefore, when their pay goes up, Ministers’ pay will also go up. That is very simple.

An hon. Member: It is wrong.

Mr Chiam See Tong: It is not wrong. But where is the limit? As I have already brought up this point, why do Ministers need so much pay for? As long as they have got a pay for a comfortable living, I do not see why they should be paid an additional $100,000 – $200,000 more. Why do they need so much more money? We are discussing just now on the amendment motion anyway.


3 November 1994:

The Prime Minister (Mr Goh Chok Tong): I think Mr Chiam has suggested that we go on a decent lifestyle basis. I think he was supported, maybe innocently, by Assoc. Prof. Walter Woon. But a decent lifestyle basis is subjective. What is a decent lifestyle? Do you provide for children’s education in universities abroad? How much do you have to put aside for old age? And why should the Minister have such a decent lifestyle when the bulk of the population live in 4-5 room flats and some in 2-3 room flats? Why can the people not have the same lifestyle as the Ministers? So this subjective element will be difficult to use in deciding on how much a Minister should be paid. And I know of no company in Singapore – perhaps there are such state companies in Communist countries – which pays its employees on a decent lifestyle basis. In Communist countries where they pay employees in accordance with need, maybe they pay in accordance with decent lifestyle. But that decent lifestyle is at a very low level. For market economies, it is payment in accordance with the worth of a person, how much does he contribute, what is his ability, what is his performance.

But even on a subjective basis, Mr Chiam’s calculation is not far off the current pay of the Ministers. For the Minister, Mr Chiam thinks the Minister deserves $51,000 a month for a decent lifestyle. For the Prime Minister, $63,750. Let us round it off to $64,000. I was not sure whether this monthly pay should be multiplied by 12 or whether we should add in the 13th month payment, variable bonuses and so on.

Mr Chiam See Tong: Multiply by 12.

The Prime Minister: I checked with Mr Chiam outside and he told me that I could add in variable bonuses. I checked with him outside because I was busy taking down notes over here.

Mr Chiam See Tong: Income tax.

The Prime Minister: Never mind. Let us say that we multiply it by 12, I think it is not too far off from the current salaries of the Ministers. For the PM, multiply by 12, it is about two-thirds of what the PM is getting.

Mr Chiam See Tong: Will you take it?

The Prime Minister: Mr Chiam asked whether I would take it. If I can be sure that Mr Chiam will be around after the next elections, for the PM I am inclined to take it. Because then Mr Chiam cannot go around and say that what the PM earns in one day, a worker will take 30 days to earn. To the layman, $700,000 is a lot of money. Right? So if Mr Chiam goes around saying in future elections that the PM and the Ministers earn that much, I will say that Mr Chiam recommends it.

Mr Chiam See Tong: Mr Prime Minister, then I can keep my mouth shut!

(Note: Goh Chok Tong did not address Mr Chiam See Tong’s point further and left it at that.)

The Prime Minister: Some people have advised me against being too straightforward with the people. They think I am too open, too candid, too honest. So they said in this exercise of benchmarking salaries to the private sector and, even before this, when we had the debate on Ministers’ salaries in December last year, that I should not go for the total wage figure, what you call the clean wage system. Hide it under perks and privileges, give a car to each Minister, allowance for entertainment, maybe allowance for travel, gardener’s allowance, travel allowance, all kinds of allowances which would not appear in the book’s published figures, which you do not see. If you do that, I think we can massage the figure down to about 60% of what it appears in the White Paper. Because there is a range of variable bonuses which you cannot calculate in advance – performance bonus, bonus based on the economic growth of the country. This can be left out because we cannot actually fix it until the year is over.

But I decided that this would be hypocritical. This is not how I want to run Singapore. And my colleagues also agreed with me that we should be honest with the people. If this is what costs the country, this is what you will see. So the figures which you see are the cost to the country. We have no additional perks. Yes, there is a tax-free car allowance. But it is recomputed with tax imputed, and that figure also appears in the published figures. It is a part of the salary. No housing allowance, no holiday allowance, and we pay tax. As Tan Cheng Bock remarked, many people thought we do not pay tax. We pay tax on every cent of our salary. We pay our own PUB bills. We pay our own telephone bills. I changed the system when we moved into time-based system. I thought it is not fair if we pay for the telephones of MPs or Ministers now that we have moved to a time-based system, because we do not know who will be using the telephone at home. So I changed the system. We pay for our own telephone bills and we pay for our own hospitalisation bills. If DPM is so unlucky as to suffer a relapse of his lymphoma, he has to pay for his own treatment.

Are we wise in being so open with the people? Can the voters ever understand? Will the Opposition ever stop playing at politics? I do not think the voters can ever understand, if you look at issues in isolation. But you must have faith in them. At the end of the day, it is how their lives are affected by the Government. That will determine how they will vote. And that faith we must have. We must have faith that we can assemble a team both for Government, the political component, as well as for the civil service, to be able to give the people a better life.

I can expect the Opposition MPs to play this political game: put it to the people to decide.


The Prime Minister: Yes, Mr Chiam and of course Mr Low Thia Khiang say to let the people decide. Then the Straits Times also jumped in, banner headlines, “Let the people decide”. In the final analysis, it is the people who decide but they cannot decide on this issue in isolation. You got to give them alternatives. You got to give them the package. The issue to be put to the voters, because they will decide in the end, is what does it cost the country to have the PAP Government, and what are the benefits which they can get out of having the PAP Government. I am going to invite the SDP and also the Workers’ Party to tell me what it will cost Singapore if you have a SDP government or a Workers’ Party government. How much would you pay your prime minister? How much would you pay your Finance Minister? It can be lower than the $22 million which should be in place after a few years’ time. Would it be a $10 million, $5 million SDP government, or would it be $20 million?

Then we give the people three choices, and that should be the issue which should be fought in the election, which I will call in due course. State the price of your government. State your vision. What would you do for them? “Dare to Change” for the SDP? For Workers’ Party, I do not know what their slogan will be. Perhaps it is “Time to Go”. Then we decide. Dare to change, change to what? Our programmes, HDB upgrading, share-owning society, plus a host of other programmes which we will announce for the people. Then there is a meaningful choice for the people. You cannot just go to election or referendum on one single issue such as this.

Since we are talking about going to the people, I think just for our own satisfaction, we should perhaps go through the SDP’s shadow Cabinet list. Who would you have as your PM? I am not sure whether it would be Ling How Doong or Chee Soon Juan. Finance Minister, I think the Party treasurer is the most qualified to be the Finance Minister of Singapore, Cheo Chai Chen. Mr Chiam, you can put a question mark because I am not sure where he would be. That is the basis for the people to decide.

In fact, I think for the next election, perhaps I should start a convention, name the core list of your leaders. I will name five of my key people, SDP names five of the key people, Workers’ Party names five. Put the salaries against these people, we go for election. Then the people can decide. If they want to have a cheap government, by all means, it is their choice. They can choose a cheap government, or lowest tender, lowest cost, go ahead. Or would the people begin to think that that is a silly way of employing a government or a CEO for a company? The way to do so is what can the CEO do for me? Then he will start asking, not how much Ministers are paid, but what Ministers can do for them. And this is what I want to get Singaporeans to understand. What can the Government do for you?

There were a few other, I would say, silly remarks. I will dispose of them very quickly. Ministers have power, therefore, take less pay. I think this is a childish argument. Yes, we have power, but this is the power to do good, not a power to benefit ourselves. Privileges, shaking hands with Kings, Queens and Presidents. Come off it!

Prestige, yes. Ministers in Singapore have tremendous prestige. MPs in Singapore have tremendous prestige. But how did the prestige come about? Did it come about just because you are an MP or because you are a Minister? In the UK, I have read a survey where they asked the people to rank the prestige of the various professions, doctors, lawyers and so on. Ministers, MPs, are ranked at the bottom, except for journalists. In the US, I have read similar reports and politicians are ranked right at the bottom, except for used car salesmen. I did not know that lawyers are also ranked somewhere below the MP.

The prestige is not automatic. It is earned. It is earned because we have over the last 40 years run an efficient, clean Government. And that is the kind of prestige which I want to be able to maintain for the next generation and, hopefully, my successor will continue to maintain it – clean, competent Government. Then there will be prestige for all of the MPs in this House. And I think even the Opposition MPs acquire some prestige as a result of the PAP’s system.

Some people argue that most of the work is done by civil servants and hence you do not require good Ministers. They are wrong. The Senior Minister has given you illustrations from his generation of leaders to show that that was wrong. I will give you some illustrations to show that it is also wrong to come to that perception for today’s Ministers.

A competent government requires both good civil servants and good Ministers. In fact, it requires that the Ministers be better than the civil servants. Civil servants, I would say almost by definition, do not innovate. They are not entrepreneurs. They are there to manage and maintain the system. They help to formulate policies. They work out the pros and cons. They spell out the details and they implement them. From time to time, they do initiate policies. But by the very nature of the civil service, they do not make bold moves. They cannot make bold moves. Those must be done by the Ministers.

Lastly, to sum up, on the White Paper, the final test, whether what we are doing is right or wrong, will depend on whether we get good people for the public sector and for Cabinet and whether we can maintain our high standards of integrity and competence, whether we can deliver a better life for all Singaporeans, more homes, better homes, more funds in the CPF, more shares, and whether others can do a better job for us. In other words, is there a better alternative to what we are doing, and to our model of recruiting people for good Government? In the final analysis, the debate is not about Ministers’ pay, or benchmarking. It is about your future and your children’s future and how we can get a group of men and women to ensure your and your children’s future.

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      4 your clerk can send me driver unit no need report
      5 your clerk can dont cover me just put me to police department
      why your clerk type say your want detain if no report?
      your dont report special force we detain your overseas ?
      so now if i work navy clerk i tell your 3report to my department or i detain your ok with it?
      now i tell your 3clerk report to my department or i send letter to all gov agency tell police detain you
      your 3navy clerk ok with it? your put all 3unit he dont want report still means defuction unit or sick with out doctor letter no need report. why so never time some agency no need report you can walk pass even your letter give police.
      or you can put computer send worng letter he is still in defuction unit army defuction navy unit and dont need send letter to report.

      so what is our department we typing from mindef your tower speaker we not your gov or your gov people
      according to them they cant sign cause they can turn around or your clerk will say terrorist or send letter money fraud.
      so feel part 1 is microsoft department another is your own gov agency worker party pap cpf singtel ntuc bp coldstorage visa posb ocbc defend minister josephine prime minister prime minister son goh daughter mindef isd cid sib ndu navy intelligence special force
      whitehouse.gov kate middleton department microsoft department nsa department obama admin and more department
      accordding to some department we hear complain your gov daughter want to take over on music everywhere no sleep put 500 people outside your say your started a riot and can send isd to your house take your item. i contact your fbi usa airforce intelligence area 51 cause i study down there or took their info and reading so microsoft send your isd and gov daughter park upstair my head
      i got usa they not happy cause your gov people send signal or people go crush their potatoe chip and on this tower speaker everywhere or underground or stadium sch or car talk tell them crush the potatoe chip. your isd can go anywhere they want gov daughter or some gov agency like your navy intelligence mindef special force no pass no id so long microsoft say ok
      how they enter some are your general worker party pap members or they already got pass. whats or duty
      stop your gov from taking over they say usa china india owe money we also stop your mindef or navy from taking over like this letter your say report we say no need why we want to make navy optional like private coast guard baywatch.

      our objective is not like your gov daughter isd go about means your riot we go into your house and say gov secret dont tell anyone.
      is to grow 4m food daily raise pay all worker and student 50000sgd monthly daily pay 5000sgd dont go consider sick employ another 5000 china india thai worker or student uniform group comfort sbs or any company go inside your navy. we cant enter cause your navy clerk say money fraud or send letter need to report mindef minister. we dont have papers your dont create what happen.
      we stay outside private your people work daily. and they tell people report or they go jail? or next time your make mistake the police say your murder when we downgrade your car accident from murder to accident to fighting to he sucided or he fell. 0hang 0jail case drop parents dont want to jail the india driver for 99yrs cause he build 40 carpark road 40hdb flat 750m dollar get 750$ monthly sat sun have to work no cook house food. your pap worker party ntuc bp macdonalds visa singtel sembcrop navy army mindef work hard for this so your get some money food on the table and the other part of the gov they want to on all music everywhere all the way to japan china russia no sleep means war understand nuclear war or something. why cause your people your clerk say they owe money cannot print cannot change share price cannot open bank and send letter fraud money laundry money counterfeit or blank credit card no papers no licence and say not their department. open bank need licence print money need gold bar loan 750m need president sign loan 1000 pay 2000 owe 2000 buy sell 1000 share make 50sgd make 00.03 cent 1share.

      now we dont report same as your prime minister nothing to report cause fbi can say your hdb is all fraud never report to kate
      your isd can say usa bank west people all fraud never report to posb. your posb never report to lee. your lee dont report to posb.
      but your lee can open 40posb 40 4dpools 40sbs 40taxi bus stop road hdb loan 750m 2min gst voucher 2min topup 4m account 220 singtel cpf gst voucher cdp. lee clerk lawyer say not their department not their company. how? your got cpf gst erp? moe moh mas and our taxi worker bus cleaner teacher doctor army police cant get 5000ocbc voucher daily say other country owe money.
      to sell your potatoe chip have to fill iras ura acra cpf gst psa paper 1sq feet 2750$ need licence make 50cent 1potaote need to pay rent pay lights eletric water. your lee can print 1note 1000sgd or 900billion but your clerk send letter say fraud. is not we against you protecting your country doesnt get any money yet. nsa is incharge of your security water food gas or gov interest like nasa or more
      like your rp at your navy gates we can ask them pick on girls search them also 3times thats the other part but our interest here is
      ask your clerk change paper work with or without your gov permission. and your other gov agency may just park outside your house distrub play but they say they guard at night which we have 500car at nite patrol not police your parents drive so they dont get arrested by police so they distrub 2min upstairs distrub downstair 2min. our signal your can dont listen the other people working for

      microsoft kate pikachu will go into location or your own gov pap gov daughter worker party isd will go into location they dont listen also they on music say you started the riot crush your shop business go overseas tell them gov business get some fbi cia nsa follow them bank manager why cause your people got money or they got money. now the other side you me all owe money. your can side me kate diplomat S8302715J NG ANSEN or say dont have no such thing. kate wont say anything her husband can divorce her or gov people can send reportor take her picture. and your own pap gov get splash hot water or police go out with parents they can bully. that why your gov daughter working with microsoft. next is why your clerk dont print 900billion 1note give all party settle all go on way cant other department send letter fraud. so how that why we all stuck your gov daughter should take isd tell cisco take half money from mrt lta sbs give topup 5000credit points bonus they say can is singapore dollar. your clerk can change paper like defuction unit or send worng letter or driver clerk or sick no need report. or belongs to another navy army defunction unit.
      or type say its computer credit bonus cash card dollar and 2000sgd exchange buy topup 5000 credit bonus and tell cisco pap worker party or posb bp cpf singtel take 30%. your isd say cant later your buy all the ntuc food. we are your gov agency pap worker party gov daughter your isd cant change the paper work march into mrt room topup cash card because of cisco?

      so how? we got to send west people make some other guard some other location like hotel sch or ask ntuc make this card once
      the people have credit bonus they can buy share 50000credit bonus buy 500000hdb share that why we need your cisco collect half only and your the other 2000sgd take buy posb credit bonus 5000 deposit bank you still get 5000credit bonus. your isd say cant why your people topup 900billion. that is why how is our people going to come in when loan 1000 owe 2000sgd? isd say dont know not their department. then for what gov agency employ your isd for. isd say dont know we sergent only. they can go in is only they top up 900billion so how? next is your paper work your ntuc have to accpet credit bonus. so microsoft head fbi cia nsa china thai india police army airforce navy intelligence special force cmpb iras cpib singtel homeaffairs manpower mindef. still no pap workerparty bp macdonald visa singtel can buy 75% share company open 40 bus taxi pizza shop print bird plane human note
      and loan 750m 2min give people only lee can. lee say cant all not his department only hdb can loan. so why dont loan another 750m
      give worker lee say not his department. your clerk dont want change the paper work. your clerk say they send letter say fraud.
      if not other gov agency send say fraud like cpf gst visa bank or cpib iras. that why your gov daughter say on all music no sleep they can enter your house say your riotting. then you will say lee terrorist or fraud. then later people pour them water how?

      your can be president also print 900billion 1note. next they say i side lee not i side. even israel prime minister buy tank blow people up. why your singapore can break away from malaysia? why lee can give queen 100000 for race course road why your lee can gather 5000 people take fullterton hotel change victora queen fountain and say british never help. lee say all not his department.
      wait now all again say i something worng cause i cannot print money for your people. im kate diplomat S8302715J NG ANSEN your can type to all your other agency tell them i something wrong no detain me that all settle. now your can on your facebook voucher talk type there they can hear radio microsoft satellite kate satellite pikachu satellite. on youtube pikachu talk they can hear also. on car radio home radio handphone radio tv channel 5 8 10 they all can hear also radio microsoft. microsoft fbi cia dea nsa isd cid sib ndu china india france intelligence police army airforce navy and all the gov agency hide there cause your clerk type letter say fraud and ask all the gov agencey detain them. kate say after year 2000 hongkong singapore indonesia malaysia all raise back british flag. your pap and worker party gov daughter and bp macdonald ntuc coldstorage can open bank print money buy 75% bank share loan 50m buy 750m share downpay house 50000sgd sell 500000sgd. 2000sgd topup safra ntuc 7eleven isetan bp sbs comfort 5000credit bonus card. lee say not his department you tell microsoft handle print all the money give the whole world. we have to grow 4m food daily pay debt pay worker upgrade house building flower loan money. your bank say cannot loan cannot change price share but can pay navy people money? and clerk send letter say fraud why dont send to your bank say dont pay navy pay farmers? bank say private. your navy is private too. why dont you give bp macdonald open bank print money close your posb navy and say your clerk report to microsoft or we close your department fraud. your clerk say they gov then we also gov why your got pay we no pay? clerk say we need to type letter. microsoft gov. kate queen.

      your clerk dont want to change paper work can. you go overseas we tax your food water tech 900billion.
      next is your degree owe 50000sgd your house also. your work 40yrs sat sun work and need to pay cpf gst psa for food.
      your gov go overseas cant buy food cant buy land can loan money need pay 5000usd loan 1000usd. vist pass 2week
      go indonesia thailand report to army general. go indonesia they jail you 9yrs for drugs. your people all ok with that?
      then for what open navy cannot travel oveseas? dont go overseas. dont help dont give food what food your growing
      your only count people money say they owe when your bank can loan 50m daily buy 750m share daily.
      and the land not yours was british your china came over stay. they die protect your land your say they take over.
      lee say all give you not his department all we give your isd gov daughter already all give your already what els your want.
      microsoft say want money 900billion 1note your print or your people all go circle circle around. your clerk say we owe money dont report detain. we want your clerk extend loan 99yrs and bill bank. or give us cash card topup give your navy 5000euro daily. your clerk say not their department. how our west people cant come in no money your bank dont want loan 1000sgd owe 2000sgd? we need 50000sgd monthly buy 500000bp macdonald visa share or how to grow your food? other country bank dont want loan money also only your posb can loan president 750m. you can ask posb loan 50m buy 750m company share. 2000credit bonus buy 5000 bp macdonald ntuc visa card. microsoft gov. kate queen.

  2. The Moral

    The true position is that there are many good men out there who are of ministerial calibre. It is just that the PAP is unwilling to pick them for reasons of their own.

    That’s absolutely correct. The real reason is for their own selfish greed, they can only pick their own ka ki nang cronies to perpetuate the Lee dynasty.

  3. The Moral

    my intuitive reaction is that I do not want people who look to money to run the country. These people will be weighing their losses and gains in terms of money and the policy they embrace will surely be profit-oriented. Even if it results in huge economic growth year after year, and the Government coffer greatly enriched, the livelihood of the people need not necessarily be improved because the formulation and results of their policies will be determined purely from the angle of economic benefits only.

    Well said, Mr Low. It is just too bad that the daft 60% don’t understand this logic.

  4. The Moral

    Corruption arises because of greed and because of greed they become corrupted and polluted. So if we over-emphasise money and the society becomes such that so long as you have money you can call the shots, then no matter how much you pay them, they will be asking for even more.

    Well said again, Mr Low. Greed leads to corruption, not the other way round. Ministers like Grace Foo and MPs like Lim Wee Kiak should reflect upon what Mr Low had said.

  5. Lee Kuan Yew has1000 reasons to be hanged

    read histories , saw many Singaporeans publish books, it is shocking us ! LKY’s Inhuman torture only against the national citizens, surly ! Lee Kuan Yew have 1000 reasons to be hanged !
    Sad of Singaporeans .
    当人们面对凶手,没有人怀疑,李光耀有精神分裂症。 世界上的人们啊,有谁不为悲伤的新加坡人而流泪呢 ..

  6. Lee Kuan Yew has1000 reasons to be hanged







    Madam Yap Swee (Dearest Mother of Dr Chia Thye Poh)
    by Teo Soh Lung on Thursday, 29 December 2011 at 08:50
    How would a mother feel if her eldest son who is so bright and full of promise is imprisoned for no reason and without a trial? How would she feel when that imprisonment turned out to be so endless and so cruel, lasting 32 long years?
    Madam Yap Swee passed away on Monday, 26 December 2011 after prolonged illness was that mother. In the last few weeks of her life, she enjoyed the comfort of being with her eldest son, Chia Thye Poh, who took care of her day and night.
    When Chia Thye Poh was arrested at the young age of 25, he was a legislative assemblyman. Three months after his arrest, his mother was taken seriously ill. Thereafter, her health continued to decline as she suffered many strokes which left her bedridden. Till today, no one can forget the hardship she and her family went through. The family suffered in silence for 32 years and more.
    When Mrs Lee Kuan Yew suffered a stroke and was physically incapacitated, her husband and children were by her side and she was given the best medical care. It was not the case with Madam Yap. The then prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his cabinet ministers did not even consider releasing her son on compassionate grounds or putting him on trial. He was literally left to rot in prison and his family left to fend for themselves.
    Freed at the age of 57, it was impossible for Chia Thye Poh to find meaningful work in Singapore even though he is effectively tri-lingual in English, Chinese and Malay and a Physics and Mathematics graduate of the now defunct Nanyang University. He was compelled to leave his mother when he accepted a scholarship to do his postgraduate studies at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. He went on to obtain a doctorate there. His work abroad took him away from his beloved mother and family.
    Madam Yap is now relieved of her lifelong suffering. May she rest in peace. And may the PAP government one day realise the sufferings and hardship it has caused to thousands of families and detainees with its ruthless use of the Internal Security Act. Finally, may we all be vigilant and be prepared to speak out against injustice.

  7. Lee Kuan Yew has1000 reasons to be hanged

    李光耀政权不只对冷藏行动的政治扣留者进行残暴迫害,其他扣留者也遭受同样命运。连代表他们的律师萧添寿也被扣留。这一切,是萧添寿在他的那本由美国耶鲁大学东南亚研究在1994年出版的To Catch a Tartar一书中所揭露的。

    张素兰(音译,Teo Soh Lang),是位年青的律师。在《亚洲研究杂志》任协调编辑时认识我。素兰和她的同伴非常关心新加坡当时的人权问题和社会经济之状况。在我看来,他们对新加坡的民主,尤其是李光耀对人权的破坏感到不安。那是我对张素兰和她的同道的政治倾向所得到的印象,尽管他们有好几次跟我一起喝茶或吃午餐,却从来没有邀请我讨论任何时事课题。




    李光耀在面对令他担忧的政治挑战时是很容易畏缩的。这跟他当时及之前的立场有所不同,总是对人挑战要进行公开的对抗。李光耀的一切谎言,以及他在新加坡的政治劣行,被两本书给赤裸裸地揭露了。这两本书,所有相信真理、正义和民主的新加坡和马来西亚人都应该找来看。李光耀的政治面具,被两个新加坡作者给撕烂了,他们就是陈华彪和萧添寿,两人都是李光耀政权暴政的受害人。(参阅:To Catch a Tartar,Francis T.Seow及Let the People Judge,Tan Wah Piow,Insan Kuala Lumpur1987)。
    一直到今天,他们两人还继续是政治流放者,分别住在英国和美国。其他的新加坡政治流放者包括在伦敦的Francis Khoo和何标;在澳洲的邓亮洪,在加拿大的傅树楷,而邓凤霞和许多其他人则分散在香港、中国、泰国南部和印尼。

    前政扣者,张素兰和她的同道的辩护律师萧添寿,他在To Catch a Tartar一书中,对这次事件着墨甚多。对于想了解新加坡在李光耀政权统治下的黑暗政治史的新、马人民,必须读这本书。一直到今天,李光耀还是在新加坡当权,套用了三种官职称呼,开始时是总理(1959至1990年),退居旁线后成为资政(1990至2002年),最后在他的儿子李显龙在2002年8月12日出任总理时,变成Mentor Minister,那或许是全世界首次出现这样的职位。据说,这个职称是李光耀自己在参阅同义词词典之后亲自选的。


  8. Worldlee

    “In the UK, I have read a survey where they asked the people to rank the prestige of the various professions, doctors, lawyers and so on. Ministers, MPs, are ranked at the bottom, except for journalists. In the US, I have read similar reports and politicians are ranked right at the bottom, except for used car salesmen. I did not know that lawyers are also ranked somewhere below the MP.”

    I think is the same everywhere except North Korea.What do you think?

  9. Jack Nicholson

    Trust a legal mind to argue. Incredible stupidity of bright people. What to do, people jaws drop and saliva swim all over Singapore rivers when a scholar walks into a room.

    • PorkChop

      First thing, you need to unlearn what sin is. 7 deadly sins are not sin. You get that wrong, you will go in circle around your problem and cluelessly kissing the feet of your adversary. Don’t be like blind sheep who sacrifice their brain and money to idiots every Sunday.

  10. LKY's Sin

    Lee Kuan Yew!
    His first sin, killing countless opponents, depends on cut-throat action to survive, abuse people in famous.

    The second crime, greed, he and his son took astronomical salary, do not give the elderly the lowest cost of living, once he shows in TV and said will welfare to people is the first Priority of everything, in the end, he is an super liar and given a zero to elderly.

    The third sin, He borrowed money ( CPF ) by due deadline 55 years to maturity not yet, he is a vampire, his life depends on sucking the last drop of blood of people’s . And most of the people less than 50 years suffering various disease , no basic living cost to survive, forced to suicide suicide, jumping jumping , off from high floor , many of lifes on the crippled on the degree of disability status, this amount in serious proportions increased.

    The fourth sin, he annexed the nation’s wealth to transfer to Temasek Holdings, perpetrating a fraud family.

    The fifth sin, blockade of speech, to cover up the truth, fooling the people, to make Singapore be the Marauders garden, elderly ‘s hell , ordinary people’s grave.

    the worst even die still not decent place to go.
    Get his alms are only 2 percent of Singapore’s population, We do not congratulate a few people win of the profit, what about the other 95% ?

    Summary of Lee Kuan Yew, is not based on you said, she said, he said… but according to the truth of history. Many died in his hands,
    This is a very serious massacre trial he was a matter of time.

    • Duhhh

      If those are sins, he needs only to go to church, takes a bath in the blood and walks out clean.

      Nothing changes because, if he is out, the next orangutan will executive what he thinks is right and history repeats itself sooner or later.

  11. Pingback: Ministerial Pay Review-The Reactions | Askmelah.com
  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

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