Now you have seen the video, download the audio where Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong laughs and says: “Life would be much easier for me if the Minister Mentor were not my father and Ho Ching were not my wife.”
He was replying to the BBC interviewer who asked him if the people would blame his family for the losses suffered by the two Singapore sovereign wealth funds.
PM Lee said: “The Minister Mentor is the chairman of GIC not because he is my father. It’s because he is the best man for the job and he has been chairman since he was prime minister. And Ho Ching is CEO of Temasek not because she is my wife but because the chairman of Temasek and the board decided that they wanted to appoint her as CEO. And they are there as long as they are effective, performing, and if they don’t perform well, they will have to take the consequences.”
The interviewer persisted and asked if it might have been better if his family had a lower profile.
That’s when PM Lee laughed and said: “Life would be much easier for me if the Minister Mentor were not my father and Ho Ching were not my wife. But they are there and this is the way Singapore has worked. And I think Singaporeans have understood that this is how the the system works. And they will render judgment when elections come.”
Asked if he anticipated some shows of public anger or displeasure, he said: “I think it’s quite understandable that in a situation like this Singaporeans will be quite anxious, will be worried about their future. And I think they have seen what the government has been doing. We had a very decisive budget this year. The package was not only a big one but a very directly focused one on saving jobs and helping people to see through the downturn.”
PM on his salary
The interviewer said: “Finally, Prime Minister, I read that you are apparently the highest paid head of government in the world. Your salary is about four or five times what President Obama gets. Are you worth all that money?”
PM Lee laughed and said: “I am not comparing myself and I don’t look at these rankings.We go on a system which is open, honest, transparent – what is the job worth, what is the quality of the person whom you want. We need the best people for the job and these are jobs where you make decisions which are worth billions of dollars. And you cannot do that if you are pretending and you just say, ‘Well, we are all in it for the love of King and Country’. We want it to be honest, we want people not to come in for the money. But at the same time the sacrifice cannot be too great. And at times like these, you want the best possible government you can have.”