Saturday, December 22, 2007

Show Me The Money (Again)

Even though most Asian economies are still robust, it would be political suicide anywhere else in Asia, except Singapore - can't remove them there. The government patted themselves on the ir backs and gave themselves another raise, the SECOND major fillip in 2 years.
Singaporean ministers and civil servants, already by far the highest-paid public servants in the world. The increase will push Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s salary to S$3.7 million, or US$2.53 million, more than six times that of US President George W. Bush.

This was after another huge bump that gave Lee a 25.5 percent increase, to S$3.1 million. At the very top of the salary pyramid is Singapore President S R Nathan, whose salary will rise to S$3.8 million (US$2.6 million). The Public Service Division’s revised salary package gives starting-grade ministers a salary of S$1.94 million (US$1.32 million).

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown receives the equivalent of US$170,556 and his cabinet ministers receive the equivalent of US$146,299. Newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Australia receives US$284,333.

You convert that for cabinet ministers to RM4.42m. Now, even the very top players at top MNCs do not get that in Malaysia, or even most places in Asia. I think if you paid RM4.427m to Malaysian cabinet ministers - ... how to say this without incriminating myself ... Let's say that corruption is more prevalent in most Asian countries. I think RM4.42m would go a long way to "compensate" for unexpected windfalls.

So, is that the way Singapore tries to ensure that their ministers do not HAVE TO practice corruption? Because even at S$1 million, it should be more than enough to compensate for most top MNCs top dogs. Or is it to compensate for forgoing business opportunities or striking out for themselves? How are we to determine that that would automatically be profitable for the cabinet ministers?

Or has Singapore finally discovered the mathematical formula for eradicating corruption? So, are we to say that for countries that do not come close to that formula, that they are inept and probably corrupt ... even in developed nations such as UK, US and Australia?


Huang Shze Jiun said...

GO SINGAPORE! Though i think something needs to be said that corruption is not strictly based on the salaries but rather it is important to consider the individual integrity of the persons as well as the checks and balances in place to prevent corruption. After all history has though us that even in the most corrupt environment there will be individuals who hold themselves at a higher standard than the rest despite being lowly paid.

ed said...

I don't think the high salaray directly results in reducing corruption. If say we increase the salary of the high level Malaysian government officials by 10 fold, i'm sure they will still be just as corrupt, as these people just have no integrity.

What causes the lower corruption is the fact that the high salary entices more people to join the civil service, many of these people would never have considered a job in the civil service when the discrepancies between the renumeration rates are so high. With a larger pool of talent, we would then of course be able to select only the best to work for the government. I believe this is what is happening in Singapore. Many of their ministers and top officials are former top scholars that came back from top universities after being funded by the Singaporean government.

Conversely in Malaysia, the civil service seems to be the last place on seeks appointment (there are of course many exceptions to this). It has become the dumping ground for the foolish, inept and unemployable. The government takes pride in its ability to absorb a great deal of these so called graduates into their civil service after they can't find jobs in the private sector.

Old said...

You slaved for 30 years in a government department with high integrity and avoid corruption at all cost. You hold the department at high moral standard and promote meritocracy as best as you can. You collect standard government salary your entire life.

Then, when you retired, your successor - a bumi - with much lower standard take over. A year later, he lives in a $10m house, which you know for a fact government salary alone cannot pay for it. Projects slipped, fall behind. Your previous colleagues complain.

For 30 years, you upheld integrity and meritocracy with low pay. The next moment, your bumi successor who didn't upheld integrity nor meritocracy, and enjoy the material things that money can buy. 30 Years! Doesn't that make your blood boil?

So, to the people who makes these sort of statement - "After all history has though us that even in the most corrupt environment there will be individuals who hold themselves at a higher standard than the rest despite being lowly paid.", I say BULLSHIT!

Yes, Singapore has it right. No corruption. Promote meritocracy. And link the leaders salaries to the top private sector salaries so that there is all incentive for meritocracy, and absolutely no room for corruption.

The top job in the country deserves the best person, and they deserve the best pay. No question that Singapore 40 years ago was worse than Malaysia when she was expelled from the Federation, but today, she has clearly become a First World country. That's the sort of difference one gets when one isn't corrupt and promotes meritocracy, no this NEP Bullshit.

Old Observer

Salvatore_Dali said...

Old Observer,

Very well said, I do agree with the gist of yr opinions, and I do think meritocracy is the way to go. I think the top dogs did a good job, its only a matter of pay hikes twice over the last 2 years at a time when the bulk of Singapore is trying to catch up with inflation, and wondering how the "new economy" is already leaving many of them behind.

You may try to run the gov like IBM but you can't really as the notion of political office has the interest of its citizens at heart, and you don't want to run tyre tracks all over that. There has to be an element of "serving for the country" which cannot and should not be accounted just in monetary terms. They are not starving, their pay scale is already 5-8x higher than anywhere else in the world.

Just because you peg it does not mean you have to have it, there are
times where these things are akin to political suicides anywhere else, where there is a 2 party system.

Just because there is none make sit even more honourable and necessary to do the right thing at the appropriate time.

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