One would have thought that a public figure donating a part of his salary to good causes would be a laudable thing. Yet in Singapore, it seems to have ruffled a few establishment feathers. This phenomenon is curious. Could it be jealousy or fear that motivated such negative social media posts on the part of the powers be? A touch of sour grapes perhaps?
For those unaware, Leader of the Opposition (LO), Pritam Singh from the Workers’ Party (WP) has announced on Facebook that he will be donating 50% of his LO salary (after taxes) to the following causes:
1. To assist low-income residents in Hougang SMC, Aljunied GRC and Sengkang GRC through the WP Community Fund (WPCF) and/or the WP Grassroots Committee; or
2. Community programs in Hougang SMC, Aljunied GRC, Sengkang GRC; or
3. Charitable or worthy causes; or
4. Workers’ Party specific needs.
While netizens have generally reacted to this announcement positively, it is noteworthy that CEO of Temasek and wife of the Prime Minister, Ho Ching has implied that Singh may have had nefarious intents by making his intentions public.
Firstly, Ho seems to be unable to grasp the meaning of what it means to lead by example. Singh holds a leadership position. By announcing the donation, he will set the tone of his leadership style – that of sacrifice, that of service. Not only is that crucial, it is inspirational.
Secondly, Singh wants to be completely open and transparent given that his wages are paid for by the public purse. Perhaps Ho has missed this point because the idea of openness is not one she understands? Look at the furore the lack of transparency over her salary at the helm of Temasek has caused. Yet, she remains silent while taking pot shots at Singh. Head scratch anyone?
The path of an opposition politician is not an easy one to tread. Those that embark on it are therefore not motivated by personal gain or wealth. In donating half his LO salary, Singh is walking the talk. Given the high salaries and resources provided to PAP politicians, it is arguably strong that those attracted to the PAP may not always be motivated for the right reasons. Perhaps Ho is unable to understand the motivations of a man not motivated by money and chooses to see negativity in what is such a positive thing.
Another PAP affiliate, Calvin Cheng who is also a former Nominated Member of Parliament has also waded into this establishment created drama by implying that Singh is trying to politicise his donation and family.
For those unaware, Cheng is the man who got into trouble for uploading a post with strong anti Islamic overtones. This sparked a police report which was unsurprisingly dismissed by the police. Yet for arguably lesser statements, police reports against a minority first time WP MP, Raeesah Khan, for allegedly being a racist against the overwhelming Chinese majority remains outstanding.
Clearly Cheng is no stranger to controversy and arguably an attention seeker. His “contributions” on social media should therefore be viewed in that light.
Cheng’s comment is a low blow. Instead of creating baseless negativity, Cheng should perhaps ask himself why he is so riled by Singh’s sacrifices? Is it because he is jealous that he has none to announce? Is he perhaps triggered by Singh’s more altruistic intentions for entering politics?
It is a sad day indeed when someone who is not a millionaire chooses to donate 50% of his salary to good causes is being attacked by those in power.