Lee Kuan Yew is quoted less often since he ceased to be Singapore’s Minister Mentor after the parliamentary elections in May last year when the opposition won six seats for the first time. But he can still speak and write with such authority. I read his letter on ministers’ salaries which appeared in Today newspaper. Those who claim Singapore ministers are overpaid – Lee Kuan Yew’s son Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be paid S$2.2 million ($1.7 million) a year and new ministers S$1.1 million after pay cuts – may not agree with the former Minister Mentor. But Lee Kuan is certainly right when he says:Continue Reading
“Even with the 36% pay cut, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will still be one of the highest-paid political leaders in the world with S$2.2 million ($1.7 million, £1.08 million) a year, reports the BBC.
The fact is, not just PM Lee, all Singapore ministers and President Tony Tan will continue to be among the highest paid leaders in the world.
Even an entry-level Singapore minister, after the proposed pay cut, will continue to be paid more than US President Barack Obama.Continue Reading
Singapore is first in the world for quality of higher education, first in math and science and Singapore's politicians enjoy the highest public trust in the world.
That's according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, released by the World Economic Forum today.
Singapore remains the world's third most competitive economy, overtaken by Sweden, which has jumped to second place from fourth. Sweden also has the third most trusted politicians in the world, after Singapore and Qatar. (See the list of countries with the most trusted politicians at the end of this post.)
Switzerland remains the world's most competitive economy for the second year running, while America, the former No 1 which dropped to second spot last year, is now down to fourth place. Swiss politicians are the 12th most trusted in the world.
Singapore finishes in the top 20 in almost every category except judicial independence, in which it is ranked 21st, and intensity of local competition, in which it is ranked 28th.
The report is based on national and international data as well as an executive opinion survey. In Singapore, the business executives surveyed were selected with the help of the Economic Development Board. See How the Global Competitiveness Report is prepared.
Singapore's members of parliament are paid more than the members of the House of Commons and the European Parliament and their counterparts in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
|Japan||¥1,300,000 a month||($15,200 a month,i.e $182,000 a year).|
|European Parliament||€7,665 a month||($9,880 a month, i.e, over $118,500 a year)|
(Table shows annual salaries unless mentioned otherwise.)
I discovered this after reading that the Indian parliament plans to treble its members' salaries. The Financial Times report says: "Parliamentarians in the world’s largest democracy currently receive Rs16,000 ($343, €266, £220) a month."
That's less than a day's pay for a Singapore MP.
Robert Reich, who was US Labour Secretary under President Bill Clinton, thinks the growing income gap is unhealthy for society. Market forces are increasing the income gap, but the market is a creation of public policy, he adds in his foreword to the book, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.
Agreeing with the book's British authors, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, he says in the foreword:
But if wide inequality is socially dysfunctional, then why are certain countries, such as the United States, becoming so unequal? Largely because of the increasing gains to be had by being just a bit better than other competitors in a system becoming ever more competitive.
Reich, professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, shows the effect of globalization without using the word. He writes:
Joseph Nye mentions Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his book, The Powers to Lead. He writes:
Setting the right example is another crucial form of communication for leaders. Anticipating a sceptical public reaction when Singapore raised the salaries of government officials in 2007, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that he would forgo the raise for himself.
I read that on the day the Straits Times reported how the Prime Minister had praised the people for their resilience during the recession.
While the government protected jobs by helping employers pay their workers, those looking for work had accepted whatever they could find.
And that, he said, had kept unemployment low — only 2.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.
Thailand's was even lower, at 1.8 per cent during the second quarter of last year, according to the International Labour Organization. (It did not give later figures for Thailand.) Workers who had lost their jobs in Thailand, Indonesia and much of Southeast Asia were starting their own little businesses in the informal sector, said the ILO's Global Employment Trends report.
But in Singapore the job supply increased.
More people were working by the end of last year than at any other time in the past decade, I noted last Friday when the Ministry of Manpower released its fourth quarter estimate.
So how has the Singapore government done compared with others if leaders are evaluated like workers — with performance indexed to pay?
Let's look at the world's 10 highest paid leaders and see how their economies have performed.
As you can see from the table, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is the only one who can say he has kept his economy from shrinking.
Twitter is going freemium. There will be both pay and free accounts, says Biz Stone in this BBC interview.
"One of the first things we are going to do explicitly is commercial accounts," he says.
"Twitter will always be free to everyone but you will be able to pay for an additional layer of access to learn more about your Twitter account — get some feedback, some analytics, become a better 'Twitterer'."
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is the world’s highest paid leader, paid four times more than anyone else, according to The Times. He is also paid more per head of population than any other leader in the world, according to the Australian.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – the tenth highest paid leader – gets only a tenth as much and President Barack Obama – the third highest paid – less than a quarter of PM Lee’s salary. Even the second highest paid, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yum-Kuen, gets only about a quarter as much.
If PM Lee’s 3.76 million Singapore dollar ($2.47 million) annual salary is divided by Singapore’s population, he is paid 54 cents per head, reports the Australian. President Obama gets only 0.4 cent – less than a cent. Donald Tsang gets 7 cents. He is third on that list. The second placed Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen gets 9 cents. Kevin Rudd gets one cent. Everyone else gets less than a cent.
Both The Times and the Australian are Rupert Murdoch publications. He also owns the Wall Street Journal, which was recently fined by a court in Singapore for “scandalizing the judiciary” with unwarranted remarks about the legal system.
But The Times says it wanted to find out how Gordon Brown was doing paywise compared with other leaders. It turns out he is the seventh highest paid. The Times says:
With the G20 leaders in the country we thought it was worth getting a snapshot of how much the highest paid presidents and prime ministers around the world earn.
Let’s look at the lists.
How seriously can you take Singapore’s leading newspaper when it argues one reason for not going to the polls now is the rising cost of a general election — and then cites a figure lower than the prime minister's annual salary? It says:
The amount spent by political parties at the general elections has been creeping up.
In 2001, they spent $2.1 million (Singapore dollars). This went up to at least $2.5 million (Singapore dollars) in 2006.
That's about $1.6 million — less than the prime minister's annual salary.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong accepted a 19 percent pay cut this year because of the economic downturn which reduced his annual salary to 3.04 million Singapore dollars, reported the Straits Times. Last year he received an estimated 3.76 million Singapore dollars, about five times the annual salary of outgoing U.S. President George W Bush, reported Reuters.
Singapore pays generously for good leadership. Even after an 18 percent pay cut, no minister will be getting less than 1.57 million Singapore dollars this year. That’s the ministerial grade salary.
But they don’t take all the money home. The prime minister has been donating all increases in his own salary since April 2007 to good causes and will continue to do so for five years.
So I wouldn’t have brought this up unless the Straits Times argued elections shouldn’t be held now because, among other things, they cost political parties at least 2.5 million Singapore dollars in 2006.
The Straits Times also says the “entire process” of holding elections “can take months”.
Excuse me, here’s the timeline for the last general election, held in 2006.
President SR Nathan – who incidentally accepted a 19 percent pay cut which reduced his annual salary to 3.14 million Singapore dollars this year – dissolved parliament on April 20 and elections were held on May 6. The "entire process" took just over two weeks.