Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife Ho Ching shared an article titled “Why is the salary of Singapore’s Prime Minister so high?” on her Facebook page last Wed (21 Aug). The accompanying caption to her post noted Singapore’s “clean wage system”.
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.”
Traveling on private jet to Manila “confuses” members of media
In 2015, the Philippines’ media reported that members of the media had a “moment of confusion” when an unmarked Gulfstream jet landed at the Manila’s airport (‘LOOK: Singapore’s Lee uses less extravagant plane‘). They were waiting for the arrival of PM Lee at the airport during the APEC 2015 summit.
“It was not until the jet parked in front of the red carpet and Prime Minister Lee came out with his wife, Madam Ho Ching, that the media was absolutely sure that it was the aircraft that carried Lee and his party,” the Philippines’ media said.
In other words, they were not expecting PM Lee to arrive in a private jet. They were expecting him to arrive on board a SIA airplane, the national flag carrier of Singapore.
From the picture of the Gulfstream jet taken at the time by the Philippines’ media, it showed a registration number “VH-PFL” on the side of the jet. According to Aviapages, an online platform for business aviation market players, “VH-PFL” is registered to a Gulfstream G550 jet owned by Pacific Flight Services Pte Ltd.
And according to Pacific Flight Services’ website, the company focuses on the “operation and management of executive jets for charter”, as well as the management of third-party aircraft.
“We are a full-service aviation provider with a commitment to ensure that we meet and exceed the expectations of all our customers’ air charter requirements. We ensure that all our customers’ travel demands are met with the highest standards of comfort, reliability and security,” its website said.
“In Singapore, we operate a fleet of five aircraft. They are a Gulfstream G550, Learjet 45, Learjet 35A, Beechcraft C90GTi and two Gulfstream G150.”
Indeed, a picture of the Gulfstream G550 jet on Pacific Flight Services’ website also shows it has the same registration number “VH-PFL”. Also, the Pacific Flight Services is a member of ST Engineering, under ST Aerospace:
Other information on the website said that the G550 can travel 6,750 nautical miles at Mach 0.8, with a speed of 460 knots. Its maximum cruise speed is an astounding Mach 0.87. The jet is also able to complete the 7,301 nm trip from Seoul, South Korea to Miami, Florida.
The cabin interior is equipped with sound suppression techniques, keeping engine noise out and improving the cabin experience with a quiet interior. “The maximum seating configuration can fit up to 16 people at one time. Baggage capacity comes at 226 cubic feet, allowing suitcases, golf bag or larger items to be brought,” the website added.
So, it seems that PM Lee and wife had chartered the Gulfstream jet from a company under ST Engineering to fly to Manila in 2015. Presumably, they have chartered the jet more than once for their travel needs.
From the Facebook posting of PM Lee’s wife, since there are “no other perks in kind” like free flights on planes for Singaporean politicians, the chartering of the Gulfstream jet must have been paid for.
Did PM Lee and wife pay for the Gulfstream jet chartering service out from their own pockets?