Ministerial Salaries

In the past couple of years, I’ve met a few MPs (and the PM, too, through some odd luck) and I am quite convinced of their good intentions and magnanimous spirit. I will dare to say this- person to person, I do believe that there are people in government who genuinely do care. I can’t speak on behalf of everyone, but I have a few favourites (yes, PAP members!) and the conviction and emotion in their voices as they speak about their constituents is unmistakable.

But here’s the deal, and I’m saying this to them as much as I’m saying it to you:

As long as they’re earning much more than most of the rest of us, we are going to perceive them differently.

This isn’t personal, this is simply the reality of the matter and it must be acknowledged.

It doesn’t matter even if one lives humbly, buys cheap clothes, sends his or her children to neighbourhood schools. If you earn a whopping salary, people are going to perceive you differently. This is a fact. I would love to be paid to do public service. To be honest, all I really want is enough money to pay for a HDB, food on the table, health insurance, have a few thousand dollars of emergency savings in case of a rainy day and I’m happy. Beyond that, I would gladly spend all my time and energy serving others. Pay me a minster’s salary, and I promise I will take all the lessons and classes I need to project a sympathetic image.

Maybe I’m missing something here. Anyway, I’d never make it in Parliament in Singapore. I have too much of a potty mouth and I don’t have the academic credentials. Also, I wonder if I can impact the world in a broader and more powerful fashion than just locally. That’s idealistic, I know, but I’m young and naive.

Somebody once commented that Shanmugam, the Minister for Law, essentially took a massive pay cut when he chose to be Minister. I don’t know enough to comment, and I do believe that it’s very possible that Ministers might be making more in the private sector. I don’t know what to think about this. I think our entire global economy overpays a lot of people. Our incentives are warped all over the world. Why does anybody need so much money, really?

Things to think about. Your thoughts?

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