On Wednesday (21 August), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife Ho Ching shared an article on her Facebook page titled “Why is the salary of Singapore’s Prime Minister so high?” by Seedly.
In the caption accompanying the post, Madam Ho highlighted her view about her husband’s salary and the ‘clean wage system’ in the country.
She wrote, “One big difference is the clean wage system in SG – ie no other perks in kind, while most if not all other countries would have many other perks, like butlers and hairdressers, free flights on national airlines, even family holidays, etc: and quite a number like the USA would include perks after end of term of office.”
On top of that, she also penned her support for people in the public service, including those in political office and social services. She noted that they should not be underpaid as their jobs are tough and not everyone has the capabilities to do it.
“When we look for people, whether for public service or social services like helping the poor, the disabled or the disadvantaged, we need to have those with the right heart of passion and commitment, and the right hand of skills, knowledge and capabilities, and the right head of wisdom and understanding of long term effects and sustainable systems,” she said.
She added, “Having have these qualities of excellence, we must not take advantage of them to underpay, or require them to wear hairsuits for a show of sainthood.”
Her caption was referring to Seedly’s article where the author attempted to rationalise PM Lee’s yearly 2.2 million salary by comparing it with the salaries of other leaders, factoring in GDP per capita and the population of each country.
However, the article which was supposedly clarify PM Lee’s high salary which has been debated on for years now failed to do so.
TOC had recently published an article explaining why this piece by Seedly did not provide good explanation to justify PM’s remuneration.
Although Seedly did not give solid reasoning on why Mr Lee’s salary is high, but many netizens still went on to agree with the article and penned their support for it. Writing their thoughts in the comment section of Madam Ho’s post, many of them said that they think PM Lee is worth more than S$2.2 million, given that Singapore’s government is the best. They even think he is underpaid and deserves more than S$2.2 million.
Wilfred Lee, who also shared the post on his other social media accounts, felt that Singapore is the best government in the world so the leaders deserve “top remuneration package”.
Victor Tan said that not everyone can do a PM’s job even if they’re given S$2.2 million, adding that many don’t see the sacrifices that he made for the country. On the other hand, Adrian Lau thinks that S$2.2 million is nothing compared to the time, effort and sacrifices that Mr Lee made to make Singapore a good and wealthy country.
Jacqueline Lum Limin justifies PM Lee’s salary by quoting Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew who said that “he wants to ensure higher pay for leaders in govt in order to ensure zero corruption”. She added that leading a country is not easy, indicating PM Lee deserves his salary.
Separately, Ng Ming Jie showed his full support for Madam Ho and told her to ignore the naysayers. This is because Mr Ng said that he knows how she and PM Lee “regularly donate to local charities and so you all are not money grubbers”. In fact, even he thinks that the couple is underpaid for the ‘amount of work’ they do for Singapore.
He even countered another user who wanted to know why Madam Ho is not revealing her remuneration at Temasek. Mr Ng naively explained that it is a state secret and if Madam Ho reveals her salary, “other countries can use that information to attack us (Singapore)”.
He added that the Government can’t disclose the country’s national reserves as well because other nations can use the information to attack Singapore, and noted that no other countries have told the amount they have in their reserves.
Clarence Tey said that some CEO of banks earn four times more than PM Lee, indicating that he would rather choose to not be in politics as a politician gets less pay and always have to put up a smile in front of everyone despite having a bad day.
Supporting his point, Lee Wei Ming Adam pointed out that the opposition ministers always claim that PAP ministers get high salary without knowing the level of stress, commitment and workload that they have. He added, “If by forgoing higher pay in private sectors is not public service, I really do not know what kind of brain they (opposition ministers) have,” he said, affirming his support for PM Lee’s and other PAP ministers’ remuneration.
Besides commenting on Madam Ho’s post, close to 500 people also shared her post with many innocently thinking that PM Lee deserves his S$2.2 million salary for building this country”, and noted that his annual wage is not as high compared to other CEOs.
Chin Sien Moon also agrees with the author of Seedly’s article who thinks that it’s right for PM Lee’s salary to be pegged to the country’s economic performance, regardless of the size of the population and the country’s GDP per capita over the years.