After Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the formation of a committee to review Singapore's ministerial pay, I thought most Singaporeans would be happy with the news. Personally, I never cared much over how much Singapore ministers are paid, but I know a lot of Singaporeans do. So a review of ministerial pay would be good news right?
Not so for a lot of Singaporeans! Many Singaporeans are…skeptical that the committee would drastically cut our top government officials' salaries. The complaints ranged from the timeframe of the review (no word yet on when the committee would finish their work) to the makeup of the committee (no opposition member; Gerard Ee, head of Public Transport Council, being chairman of the committee etc). Basically, most Singaporeans believe the committee is a waste of time.
I disagree. I understand that Singaporeans believe that our ministers are overpaid but realistically, a committee to review the pay is the right way to go about the matter. I do not think any Singaporeans truly think that the government will just cut their pay immediately. Time will tell if the committee is a waste of time but I think Singaporeans should give the committee the benefit of the doubt till then.
However I also believe there is one simple way for the committee to appease Singaporeans about the minister’s pay issue. There is one straightforward thing the committee can immediately recommend to prove to Singaporeans they are serious about their work; Get rid of the pension system for ministers.
Getting rid of the pension system for ministers should be an easy decision. Almost all Singaporeans are on the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme yet Singapore ministers are all still on the old (and superior) pension system. This will get rid of the double standard between ministers and Singaporeans; show that the government is serious about the review of minister’s pay; and prove that the committee is not a toothless tiger like most Singaporeans fear.
Get rid of the pension system for ministers and the government can silence the naysayer and doubters in Singapore. Like I said; easy decision!