People’s Voice Party (PV) chief Lim Tean on Thursday (25 Feb) questioned if the Government is able to explain how the role of a Mayor — costing a whopping yearly pay of S$660,000 — could be fulfilled on a part-time basis.
Mr Lim said this a day after Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh questioned Singapore’s need for Mayors and the role of the Community Development Councils (CDCs) run by them.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday (24 Feb) during the debate on the Emerging Stronger Together Budget, the Workers’ Party chief highlighted that many Singaporeans are of the view that the salaries of mayors are “outrageous”, given how they do not appear to “commensurate with the mayor’s roles and functions today”.
“Other Singaporeans are of the view that the CDCs’ functions can be carried out by other existing entities, or by ministries and statutory boards, including other organisations under the People’s Association,” he said.
Stating that PV is “unified” with Mr Singh and the Workers’ Party in raising in Parliament the issue of Mayors in Singapore, Mr Lim said that the question of whether Singapore needs mayors “is not the right question”.
“It is an invitation for the PAP to defend the $660k per year roles,” said Mr Lim.
Citing his experience as a lawyer “who has undertaken many cross-examinations” in his career, Mr Lim said that he is “fully aware of the power of a question”.
“You must ask the right questions in order to arrive at the desired goal. This is true in personal lives, in the law or in politics. You want change? You want something better? Then ask the right questions!”
Some of such questions, said Mr Lim, include:
- When will the PAP agree to a national referendum to let the people of Singapore vote on whether to abolish or reduce the roles of Mayors?
- When will the PAP agree to set up a non-partisan committee to undertake a cost analysis of the mayor role and the taxpayer funded salaries attached to them?
- If the PAP are defending the enormous salary of $660k per year for a Mayor because the job is large in scope, then how can this job be done on less than a part-time basis?
Another pertinent question, said Mr Lim, is whether the job of a Mayor is “so important and large of scope that the $660k salary is merited”.
“Or is it not important at all and can be executed among several other job positions?” He said.
The issue of mayors’ roles was thrust into the spotlight after CNA in November last year documented a day in the life of South West District Mayor Low Yen Ling.
Speaking on a Mayor’s role, Ms Low said that it is similar to “leading a middle office where crucial goals and plans are set to meet the needs on the frontline, and also having to ensure all the back-end processes are in place too”.
Apart from being a Mayor, Ms Low is also a Member of Parliament (MP) for Chua Chu Kang GRC.
She also holds the Minister of State position in two ministries, namely the Ministry for Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth.
Among the CDCs’ purpose are supporting national policies and engaging with residents, doing so in collaboration with government agencies, grassroots organisations, voluntary welfare organisations and partners from the public and private sectors.
There are five CDCs in total at present. Other than Ms Low’s South West CDC, the other four are:
- North East CDC, run by Desmond Choo;
- Central CDC, run by Denise Phua;
- North West CDC, run by Alex Yam; and
- South East CDC, run by Fahmi Aliman.
Ms Low chairs the Mayors’ Committee.
Netizens commenting on the CNA Facebook post on the article pointed out the redundant nature of the mayors’ role, seeing how similar their duties are to those of the roles of elected MPs.
They questioned the purpose of having five mayors in Singapore, considering that the MPs are already carrying out the activities and responsibilities mentioned in the article.
According to the 2012 White Paper on government salaries, mayors earn an annual salary of S$660,000, on top of their annual MP allowance of S$192,500, excluding bonuses.