It was reported in Tuesday (28 Jul) that Workers’ Party (WP) secretary-general Pritam Singh will be accorded additional privileges in his role as the Leader of the Opposition. He will receive double the allowance of an elected MP with an annual package of S$385,000.
Similar to other Westminster parliamentary systems, the formally designated Leader of the Opposition in Singapore will lead the opposition in presenting alternative views in parliamentary debates on policies, Bills and motions, said the Office of the Speaker of Parliament and Office of the Leader of the House in a joint statement. Currently, the Speaker of Parliament is PAP MP Tan Chuan Jin and Leader of the House is PAP MP Grace Fu.
As Leader of the Opposition, Mr Singh will also lead and organise the scrutiny of the Government’s positions and actions in Parliament.
Pritam’s salary minuscule compared to salaries of other appointment holders
The S$385,000 Pritam is receiving seems like a big jump from his previous salary as an MP, but it’s actually quite minuscule when compared to the salaries of other political appointment holders from the PAP side.
For example, even a PAP mayor of a district in Singapore is said to earn S$660,000 a year, according to the following ministerial salary review conducted in 2012, after the public got angry with the astronomical pay the PAP ministers were getting.
The PAP ministers, of course, are still getting more than a million dollar salary after the salary review, with PM Lee getting the highest at S$2.2 million a year.
Pritam’s salary comparable to that of Australian Leader of Opposition
Comparing with Australia, Pritam’s salary is actually about the same as that of Anthony Albanese, Leader of the Opposition in Australian Parliament. Mr Albanese earns around A$390,000 (S$383,000).
However, comparing with the other Australian political office holders, Singaporean politicians’ salary exceeds by leaps and bounds.
Australian PM Scott Morrison earns only A$549,000 (S$539,000). PM Lee is earning some 4 times more than PM Morrison.
Australian Cabinet ministers earn about a third or less compared to Singapore’s Cabinet ministers. For example, the Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds earns only about A$360,000 (S$354,000) compared to the more than a million dollar salary Singapore ministers get.
And the mayors in Australia also receive a lot less than their counterparts in Singapore. For example, in Melbourne, a city of about 5 million, its Lord Mayor only earns A$200,870 (S$197,000). Our mayors who each only handles one district in Singapore are already earning more than 3 times that of Melbourne mayor at S$660,000.
Do we really need 5 mayors in Singapore?
Many netizens have questioned the need for multiple mayors in a small city-state like Singapore.
Lawyer Teo Soh Lung asked (Mayors of Singapore), “There are five mayors on our little island of 721.5 sq kilometers with a population of 5.7 million. Do we really need five mayors in addition to 93 members of parliament?”
She noted that according to Community Development Council (CDC) website, the mayors are supposed to serve the residents in the five districts of Singapore.
“Isn’t this a duplication of the work of a member of parliament who has to look after his constituents? And isn’t every mayor already a member of parliament? Why do we need to create this glorious title of Mayor with no additional duties but at humongous costs?” Ms Teo questioned further.