Leong Sze Hian /

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Minister in charge of the Civil Service have both sought to clarify and explain the issue of ministerial pension. (See links below.)

Whilst the clarification on Ministerial pensions is welcome, I would like to suggest that more details be given. Otherwise, Singaporeans may still be in the dark about how much exactly ministers receive in their pensions.

For example, the Today report says, “When a cabinet minister retires, the maximum annual pension that he is entitled to would be about 10 per cent of his annual salary while he was in service.” So, what are the annual salaries of cabinet ministers?

Otherwise, it may be akin to saying its 10 per cent of $X, but what is X?

Another question is whether this applies to other ministers as well, who are not cabinet ministers.

The Today report also says, “Ministers have to serve a minimum of eight years to qualify for a pension.” How many and who are the ministers that qualify according to this criteria?

Why is it that a minister qualifies after eight years, whereas a civil servant like Administrative Officers are only eligible after 15 years?

Why is it that Members of Parliament (MPs) elected after January 1995 are not eligible, whereas ministers appointed after 1995 are still eligible?

We are told that the “pensionable component has been frozen since 1994” but what was the amount frozen?

The Prime Minister’s Office’s statement says that “over time the pensionable component has shrunk as a proportion of total monthly salary.” What is the pensionable amount as a percentage of the annual salary?

The PMO explains that “[the] Parliamentary Pensions Act also provides for an office-holder to receive a pension at the age of 55, should he qualify for one, while he continues to hold office.” The obvious question which Singaporeans may have is: how many ministers are now receiving a pension?

The PMO’s statement says ‘[this] provision is being reviewed.” I agree that it should be reviewed as I do not see why a current minister in office who is already earning more that $2 million a year should be given a pension at the same time.

How long is this review expected to take?

After all, this is not the first time that this issue has been raised over the years.

In the spirit of PAP transformation, as espoused by ministers George Yeo and Lim Hwee Hua (my former MP as I live in Aljunied GRC) in their respective press conferences after the elections, actually, it may be much simpler to just disclose to Singaporeans the amounts of pensions that each eligible minister is getting, instead of a long statement of clarification, which may leave citizens with arguably even more doubts and questions.

Given that “the points are already on… public record”, as the PMO says, and if good governance requires corporate officers of listed companies to disclose their remuneration, shouldn’t ministers do the same?

References:

“PMO on pensions for political office and MPs” (ST, May 14)

“Ministers’ pensions: How they’re paid” (Today, May 14)

Visit Sze Hian’s website for a free e-book and more.

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