Saturday, March 31, 2007

The cleaner is not underpaid but the Minister is!

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.
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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.
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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.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Justice comes swift and faster than we know....

Anonymous said...

if the system does not support, protect and enhance the rich, the weaker poor shall remain poorer still and may rot in crime infested streets. so the rationale behind the justification of an exploitative compact is that it is still better for the weaker species to engage in menial tasks such as from shining food tables and vanity tops of lavatory to prada shoes for basic social services such as rental flats or low cost cubicles than to live in zinc shelters along smelly drains.
critics shouldn't bemoan the dressy riches of wealthy creatures spouting shakespearean economics theorem and enterprising bullocks who have conceived brilliance in modelising or imputing themselves on their poorer cousins through progressive learnings and indoctrination of incorruptable exaltedness of infinite knowledge. with patience and grit, the abhored in society too will be able to rise to their fullest potential and become immortalised on street signs if not, at least regaled on 0.5% lodged in charitable hearts.

Anonymous said...

I wonder when will NTUC be coming up with some retraining programme on the art of cleaning toilets and wiping tables. I feel the need to upgrade myself in order to increase my value when I get older.

Of course there comes the question of will i be able to afford the fees. Perhaps after the government's generous subsidee, I will still need to get a bank loan and repay it every month out of my $800 pay. I suppose it will be hard to get a 10 year loan since by then I will be in my 80s and I may well be dead before I can finish my payment.

Alexis de Tocqueville said...

Lucky Tan, today my wife picked up a leaflet on Orchard road handed over to her by the SDP.
There were several persons and a table , all very well organised, and certainly very interesting. It is good to see such events in Singapore. The country sertainly need more debate.

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. This is getting curiouser and curiouser.

Anonymous said...

I guess PAP are heading for a political suicide.

They have implemented alot of policies that doesn't favour to the public.

1. Increase the polyclinic fees.
No wonder poor people always say, can die but don't fall sick. In the past few months. MP Khaw mentioned about affordable and subsidised medical fees...but now i don't think it is really affordable and subsidised!


2. GST increase to help the poor.
This statement really tickles me.


3. Minister's pay increased.
From what i know..seems like alot of people don't agree that minister's pay should peg with the pte sector. Just read the number of letters to complain on minister's hikes.


It is time to see a new government.

Anonymous said...

Is it intentional that the minds be subjugated through i-pod technologies and the heart, occupied by i-god asperations seeking no man's land on i-travel? hhmmm...you think we need more i.o.u. to fund an i.want.it.all?

Anonymous said...

on your point being made on competition, i think there are imported talents where ministers are concerned!
perhaps because we do not possess such talents locally and therefore they are irreplaceable when sought out from abroad! hence the high pay..

cleaner aunties are,on the other hand, very expendable and u can find many possessing such skills..

social graffitist said...

today's mind-rapers have highlighted an important moral strategic manoeuvre. caught in a situation where you have to decide which group is more deserving to prolong their miserable existence, you should always, always remember to trust your supreme faculty of reasonable misappropriation rather than to follow your intuitive assertation. all lives are not the same. however, all lies can be reframed.

at82 said...

By 2011 all will be forgotten.

Another progress package will be given out and S'poreans will vote in PAP yet again.

The opposition might even be wiped out given Chiam's high age.

Then the whole cycle will repeat itself.

LuckySingaporean said...

anon 10.01AM:
Justice comes on 9 April 2007 when ministers' pay hike will be announced. All Singapore can celebrate a better life ahead.


anon 11.46 AM:
I disagree that the PAP is only concerned about the rich. The PAP is concerned with ordinary Singaporeans - they are constantly worried that these pple don't work hard enough and that if they have too much it will undermine their work ethics.

anon 1:11PM:
Isn't it wonderful that our biggest union is well harmonised with the PAP govt. In other countries there is always a tension among union & business & govt. I look forward to my cleaner retraining too.

alexis:
I suggest you burn the poisonous material from the SDP. and get your wife to wash her hands well. We only need one voice in Singapore that is the PAP. They will take good care of us and our next gen. They will mold our minds and bring about great happiness in the future.

LuckySingaporean said...

anon 8:27PM:
Don't laugh or cry. It is really very simple. You don't need to get your economics PHD to understand. When everything is measured in econmic terms, humans will be simplified to economic components - this makes them easier manage.

anon 9:51PM
Political suicide? The PAP? How does this suicide happen? Chee Soon Juan going to make it happen?

anon 10:45PM
i-understand. can we i.o.u away the next crisis or recession. This I have to see.

anon 10:53PM.
Yes it is all FAIR competition. The cleaner is a cleaner because she didn't get that scholarship 20 yrs ago, that came with that job with the leadership training and Harvard Business School course ..which leads to a better job and more opportunity....this cleaner could have been our perm sec! Plse read my articles on Elitism to fully understand this fair competition/meritocracy thing....is grooming part of meritocracy?

social graffiti:
All lives are not the same when measured on economic terms but it is one man one vote. In less advanced systems like western style democracy, the govt is as much a employee of the cleaner as he is the billionaire. LKY openly said this one-man-one-vote system is no good. We need something more advanced....like weighthed voting system.

at82:
Some people told me with the internet nothing is forgotten. That is why the PAP seeks to manage Internet discourse with a light hand. In N. Korea, the solution was to have an "intra-net" not "inter-net". I guess our beloved PAP govt will try to retain "forget effect" in our system but these days there seems to be more to forget about.

Anonymous said...

we built flats...but the costs have flattened our pockets
we built roads to accommodate more cars in this tiny island...but more are being squeezed on the road to work
we built magnifent bridges to rival other cities...but the bridges to life for the people are short and narrow
we built fantastic air and sea ports for trade....but we traded our souls for white gold
we built beautiful gardens...but lives are far from a bed of orchids let alone roses
we built museums....but we destroyed our past and stored memories for a fee in favor of penthouses
we built a house to care for the nation...but it became a strongman's haven

we built libraries of higher learning...but we become the book of the dead instead of the book of life

Anonymous said...

we built flats...but the costs have flattened our pockets
we built roads to accommodate more cars in this tiny island...but more are being squeezed on the road to work
we built monumental towers of excellence...but the people are covered by the weight of towering infernos
we built world class hotels...but our homes become hotels for the wealthy ables
we built world renown hospitals to save lives...but we bleed people with bitter medicine
we built magnifent bridges to rival other cities...but the bridges to life for the people are short and narrow
we built fantastic air and sea ports for trade....but we traded our souls for white gold
we built beautiful gardens...but lives are far from a bed of orchids let alone roses
we built museums....but we destroyed our past and stored memories for a fee in favor of penthouses
we built a house to care for the nation...but it became a strongman's haven

we built libraries of higher learning...but we become the book of the dead instead of the book of life

(revised)

Anonymous said...

we built flats...but the costs have flattened our pockets
we built roads to accommodate more cars in this tiny island...but more are being squeezed on the road to work
we built monumental towers of excellence...but the people are covered by the weight of towering infernos
we built world class hotels...but our homes become hotels for the wealthy ables
we built world renown hospitals to save lives...but we bleed people with bitter medicine
we built magnifent bridges to rival other cities...but the bridges to life for the people are short and narrow
we built fantastic air and sea ports for trade....but we traded our souls for white gold
we built beautiful gardens...but lives are far from a bed of orchids let alone roses
we built museums....but we destroyed our past and stored memories for a fee in favor of penthouses
we built a house to care for the nation...but it became a strongman's haven

we built libraries of higher learning...but we become the book of the dead instead of the book of life

(revised)

Leong Sze Hian said...

Business Times - 27 Mar 2007

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Time to temper focus on monetary rewards

I REFER to the report, 'Govt must close pay gap to retain talent: PM Lee - Pay for staff Grade 1 has slipped to 55% of benchmark' (BT, March 23).

While it is important to retain talent, we may need to temper the focus on monetary rewards. Otherwise, we may inadvertently be setting an unhealthy example for Singaporeans in general and sending an undesirable message to our children - that money is everything.

In this connection, Singapore has been ranked 130th out of 178 countries for happiness, 40th out of 41 countries for libido, 30th out of 35 countries for courtesy, fifth in the world for prisoners per capita and 105th in the world for income equality.

Has our over-emphasis on monetary rewards led to us being unhappy because we spend too much time and effort chasing more and more things and money - at a cost of having little time or energy to have sex, an uncaring attitude towards others and an inclination to commit illegal acts to get rich quick, resulting in many offenders?

Recent remarks by the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy - that 'Singapore should stop trying so hard to be world class, simply because it already is' - may be instructive. We may need to pay more attention to trying to improve those 'soft' areas in which we are far from world class - like happiness, libido and courtesy.

Singapore seems to be particularly good in the economic arena, but Third World in the non-economic arena.

Perpetuating the strategy of paying more and more to keep civil servants may be self-defeating. As a small country, we will find it increasingly difficult to compete with bigger, more developed countries that can offer higher pay, perks - and a better lifestyle to boot.

Perhaps we should shift some of the emphasis to the honour and duty of public service, contribution to our country and the pride and joy such service brings - which no amount of money can buy.

Our founding ministers, like our Minister Mentor, worked tirelessly for very little pay to take Singapore from Third World to First World status.

If the most senior civil servants who are now earning $1.21 million a year need to be paid $2.2 million to want to stay, I think there may be something wrong with the values we are teaching in our schools, our homes and our society at large.

Furthermore, benchmarking pay to the top echelons of private sector professions may not be appropriate, because civil servants do not have to face market competition, technological obsolescence, shareholders, investors, etc.

Finally, as long as our parents tell their children to aspire to be scholars and civil servants, entrepreneurship may never flourish in Singapore, no matter how hard we try to promote it.

Leong Sze Hian
Singapore

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.

young-pap said...

Alexis de Tocqueville,
Chee is a nut case. I just scolded him on my blog.

young-pap said...

oops, my blog is here.

Anonymous said...

During the 2006 GE, Mr. Low Thia Khiang already warned about the progress package given by the Government. He said that the PAP may be giving you people a drumstick, but they will be taking back a whole chicken. Some time back the NTUC chief appeared in a forum on TV to say that even though they took back a whole chicken, they are actually sharing that chicken with the people. Oh yeah, they are now sharing the chicken - they took the meat and drumsticks and are giving you people the bones, feathers and droppings to share.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Low Thiang Kiang is right.

But then again, his party had internal conflicts which leads to 2 party members resign.

This only reflects that WP should scrutinise the party members for election.

Otherwise, opposition party will never win a GRC when they can't even cope with their own problems.

or rather...opposition members shouldn't sabotage each other.
It only give chance to the PAP.

Anonymous said...

You must understand. Our great leaders are into wealth creation for the peoplel as such, they have to constantly rub shoulders with the rich and powerful businessmen and dignitaries talking about cross borders movement of huge huge money. As you know, rich people are unlike you and I. They walk around with $100k diamond studded rolek watches and they wear it even in their sleep. They also wear $50k blanded shoes to office you know. And what you dun see, their underwears, cost a staggering price of your humble notebook ok.Remember, rich people dun take meals in foodcourt like you and I or ride buses to work. So please please ok. Have some love and compassion for their need to blend into the world of the rich and famous. We have to be realistic and must not expect them to eat, dress,live and worry like us. Dealing with big money means you need to look like a rich whale to command that kind of respect. To look like a wealthy whale, you need plenty of money. Logical right? With big fat salaries, than can they project the multi-billiondollars image necessary for wheeling and dealing with powerful rich high rollers all over the world lah. So wake up and smell your coffee bags. People measure you by how much you earn not by your kindergarden school values lah. So your understanding by giving them their pay rise will help your leaders in doing a better job as civil servants because then, they need not worry too much about a loser self image akin to tables cleaner eating next to you lah.So please do not subject them to that kind of shame and disgrace ok?

Anonymous said...

Good news. Citizens can now vacate their homes to foreigners and share someone else homes to foster deeper communion living.

Anonymous said...

Last Friday Singapore power cut off my power supply because I owe them 700 and paid only $300 on the 14th of this month instead of the $350 demanded. $50 short and now I pay a additional $15 for reconnection. Why because I had to pay off my credit card debts which never seem to be lessening although its been almost 4 years since I used one. Yes it was my fault , because I though I will never be thought I would be asset rich, cashless and downgraded in the job market. And I cannot fault the super efficient system we have and understand the need to pay people who upgrade everything extremely well. I accept my faith and am trying very very hard to get out of debt and this country. Why because I have no voice. I miss one payment at it sets me back a few hundreds in late payment, legal cost etc. I owe $4,300 to a bank and now it says it will start legal action and the cost would be around $2500. Now that what's I call a 1st world country. I have enough of this 1st world standard. I just want to quit this country, take my CPF and live in a third world country.

LuckySingaporean said...

Plse lah you owe the bank you want to blame on the PAP?

Go talk to the bank about the idiocy of initiating an action that involves a lawyer. You need to talk to the parties involved.

If you can't manage your credit, it is the same anywhere...even in US the banks come after you...the US IRAS come after you. Banks everywhere are the same.

Help yourself plse. You can't blame the PAP for this. It is your own doing.

part time cleaner said...

i ok.minister pay up. good. i ok. important peace and happy happy money less no problem. less money eat plain loti more money eat loti prata with curry can.i happy already. but minister work hard keep country rich and make jobs, can get more pay so they stay corrupt free. give another $1m no problem. important no corrupt. better give wait they steal more millions no good for us. they happy with pay they no steal from us. minister say is right. i ok. i simple can accept ok.ok.very happy.

Anonymous said...

what is the former minister up north talking about when he said his people will become "slaves" if they proceed with the SEZ huh? no wonder he wasn't paid the way our ministers were paid when he was in power. luckily for us, our great leader used the correct expression and spoke of work ethics instead of slavery. see, how lucky we are to have world most expensive civil servants? it is time they lose their laid back kampong lifestyle and join our army of factory or office and ir operators!lol.

Anonymous said...

good news today. garbagemen show concern for destitute elderly of economic casualties and decided to increase grant by $30. the generous help has brought loud cheers and celebration to the community. so impressed by an overflowing of love, compassion and understanding, from the house of plenty that the community will rally behind pay increases of a few million dollars for their most astute ministers - soon.

Capt_Canuck said...

Perhaps it might be a good idea for the opposition party seats, along with the other people in Singapore, suggest perhaps the benchmark for ministers salary should not be the highest 6 professions (like lawyers and doctors) but perhaps be the average of all professions and people working/living in Singapore. If that is the case, I bet you there would be an introduction of minimum wage and that wage would be around the $20/hour mark.

Anonymous said...

http://theonlinecitizen.com/2007/03/28/pap-and-the-people-a-return-of-disaffection-revisited/#more-266


Re - read

"The third outcome — and the most disheartening — is the bewilderment and disenchantment of the small pool of dedicated Singaporean volunteers in charity and community work, which will result in the pool becoming even smaller, firstly because these volunteers will now see very little in the way of inspiring example and secondly because they are unlikely to be replaced by a younger generation brought up on the raw economic imperative."

Anonymous said...

Sad Sad Sad. When you think that 800 is too much. Just sad. You state in your profile that equal opportunity exists for all, how do you justify the delta between the poorest of the poor who receive 290 a month and those who receive 100,000 a month. Oh yeah, those poor people well they just didn't work hard enough to become an MP.

Anonymous said...

Our Ministers NEED the pay rise now or they will never get one later. They just won another landslide election and everything that they want must be set now! Wait a little longer and nearer the next election in 2011? and they will lost more seats? That's suicide for them.
Aiyah! Singaporeans talk and talk now not happy but when 2011 come everything forget and still vote for the same Ministers and party.
Work in same company more than 10 years already. Every year increment 3% but happy. So stupid me.........

Anonymous said...

You can fool MOST people ALL the time.

You can fool SOME people MOST of the time.

You can't fool ALL people ALL the time.

Anonymous said...

yes I agree that the salaries of people working in the goverment and civil services should be increased because realy many of them have pay which are much lower than the private sectors and we should pay them reasonably and fairly so that they will continue to stay and work in the goverment sectors.

Yes i also agree that our mininsters should be paid well for their contribution to the country

but NO I dont agree that we should further increase the minister's existing salary of millions per year to 2 , 3, 4 millions dollars.

One Two Three million $ per year salary is already very very high and more more than enough to keep them in their job

we donot need to increase the ministers pay from 2 to 3 million just to keep them away from corruption. They shouldnt need this further increase to keep them away from corruption . you mean to say that with their current salary of 2 to 3 million they are still tempted to corruption if we dont increase their salary further. then if this is so , this is really a sad sad state of affairs in singapore.

So yes to further pay increase for the many low pay goverment employees but a Definite No to any more pay increase for the ministers who is already drawing a big fat 2 - 3 million salary.

Actually, the ministers should be voluntarily coming out to say that they do not need any more pay increase from their existing big fat 2 - 3 million pay package, better still if they say they accept a pay cut.

Anonymous said...

In china there is a common saying that goes " people who have full stomachs cannot understand those with empty stomachs "

so is it possible for those people with 2 to 3 million $ big fat salary packages to understand, emphatise with the problems faced by those with few hundred / few thousand $ salary packages.

How is it possible for the big fat billionaire to understand how it feels like to live on a meagre 10k to 20k or even 50k annual salary packages

the rest of the story is up to you to fill in the blanks

Anonymous said...

Singapore ministers do NOT require large salaries , they are only running a very very small city state, almost insignificant on the international stage ( ask any westerner where Singapore is , they hav'nt an idea), in my opinion they do it very badly , and like others said they do not look after the Singapore population . Having no opposition parties in Singapore means they do what they want . In a lot of peoples minds the government is money minded , I have never seen any reference to QUALITY OF LIFE in Singapore , and is very definately not a first world country that the ministers think it is.
Before people start writing things they should go and live and WORK for long periods in other countries , that is the ONLY way the have the experience to compare and judge

Anonymous said...

If the only reason for paying high salaries to Ministers in Singapore is to stop corruption etc , then these people should not be in politics . Politicians are there to run a country correctly and are elected to do that by the people ( but in Singapore it does'nt work as you have no choice for who you vote for , no opposition )and should be responsible enough and have installed safeguards to stop this sort of thing.
Singapore politicians are big spoilt kids.