This afternoon during lunch at my company canteen, one of my colleagues started talking about the ministers' pay hike again. Despite my many attempts to explain why the pay hike is needed, their feeble ordinary minds still cannot comprehend the urgent need to hike our ministers' pay to lessen their sizeable financial sacrifice for Singapore. The debate got very heated and one of them pointed towards the old cleaner at the canteen and said, "The govt has never been concerned whether low wage workers are underpaid, they are only concerned whether they themselves are underpaid!!!!". Just because she (the cleaner) is paid less than $800 a month doesn't mean she is underpaid. Even those who work full time jobs but cannot afford the basic necessities are not underpaid. ...but our ministers are underpaid. Here's why:
1. Competition. Ever since the PAP govt opened the floodgates to foreign cleaners from Bangladesh, China and India local cleaners have been downed by the competition. Since employers now have the option to hire foreign workers, it is only fair that our local cleaners are paid less. Ministers' on the other hand cannot be replaced by imported talents and thanks to 40 years of PAP rule, alternatives have all but disappeared.
2. Benchmarks. Our cleaners are benchmarked against cleaners from 3rd world countries. Our cleaners are overpaid. Our leaders are benchmark not against top 1st world leaders but top professionals so they are underpaid.
Once when I was in Los Angeles, I read the local papers, there were many pages discussing how to improve the work conditions of the janitors in the city and whether they were underpaid due to various practices of employers there. The PAP govt saw no problem and no need for a minimum wage for low income workers, but they feel strongly that the ministers' pay is too low. They see nothing wrong with workers working full time jobs not being able to pay for basic necessities...... but see plenty of injustice because our ministers have made a painful financial sacrifice against a benchmark they composed. They see nothing wrong with Public Assistance receipients not getting enough for 3 meals a day.....but there is an urgent need to hike our ministers' $1.2M paycheck. They see nothing wrong with telling the people that they have a budget filled with "compassion" when the proportion of the budget to help the poor is the lowest among 1st world countries. ......but something is seriously wrong if we continue paying our ministers this low salary of $1.2M.
The only thing wrong with our country is the ministers are underpaid. Lets pay them more to right this wrong and to remove this single injustice from our society.