Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has recently stated that there are currently about 60,000 vacancies waiting to be filled, with about half of them for PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians). I am just wondering if the 60,000 would include the jobs that have recently been advertised as being available at the Istana? Would Teo consider these Istana openings as “good quality”?
Following the advertising of the butler and chef jobs available at the Istana, some have commented that the salary levels were paltry. Comparisons have also been made with the President’s salary which is, of course, many times that of the staff the Istana is seeking to employ.
It is no secret that Singapore’s politicians are among the best paid in the world. Applying that logic, it would be fair to assume that most would consider the job of a Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) politician as “good quality”. With that in mind, would Teo consider the jobs available at the Istana “good quality” especially when compared with her job?
That’s the problem when comparisons are made without any objective or official benchmark. On what basis is a job considered “good quality”?
Clearly, Singaporeans are not expecting Istana staff to be paid at the same level as the President. However, when you have the President paid so many times above elected politicians in other developed countries set against the “unbenchmarked” assertions by a well-paid minister in the form of Teo that there are many “good quality” jobs available to Singaporeans, how can Singaporeans help but wonder if things are not just a little bit skewed?
To put things in perspective, it has been calculated that the President of Singapore or Mdm Halimah Yacob, in this case, is earning twice as much as what the total gross monthly income of all the full-time butlers and cooks put together in the Istana. Is that not just a little bit exorbitant?
So, when Teo makes a bold declaration on the availability of alleged “good quality” jobs in Singapore – one has to wonder what she is basing her statement on. Does she mean “good quality” while compared to the President or herself? Or does she mean “good quality” in that the salary might be marginally higher than that offered by the Istana?
To reiterate, Singapore has no legislation on minimum wage. In the absence of an official benchmark, no meaningful comparisons can be made. Statements such as those made by Teo would, therefore, be subjective and relative. What happens then if the establishment has an elitist mindset where “good quality” means different things for different people?
I am not suggesting that Teo feels this way. However, in the absence of any objective benchmark, she simply cannot make a statement such as this. I leave readers with 2 questions.
- Is Teo making unsubstantiated or misleading statements that can be construed as “fake news”?
- What is the objective standard for “good quality”?
But even if the statements are, they would not be an issue for ministers because section 61 of Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) provides ministers the power to grant exemptions from the bill:
“61. The Minister may, by order in the Gazette, exempt any person or class of persons from any provision of this Act.”
Therefore, ministers could happily say and declare what they want without any form of repercussions.