Yesterday (24 Feb), the Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh told Parliament that many Singaporeans are of the view that the salaries of Community Development Council (CDC) mayors are “outrageous”.
The mayors are not perceived to commensurate with their roles and functions today, Mr Singh said.
“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, particularly since the social footprint of each CDC is uneven, and can differ greatly compared to another,” he added.
“Yet others simply don’t know what the CDCs do.”
Currently, Singapore has 5 district mayors, all who are also PAP MPs – Low Yen Ling (South West), Denise Phua (Central), Fahmi Aliman (South East), Alex Yam (North West) and Desmond Choo (North East).
According to the 2012 White Paper on government salaries, mayors are paid an annual salary of $660,000. This is in addition to their annual MP allowance of $192,500.
Mr Singh, who is also the Secretary-General of Workers’ Party, called for a “serious review” of the necessity of having full-time CDC mayors, suggesting that bodies such as the Citizens Consultative Committees (CCC) are more closely connected to the ground.
Teo Ser Luck makes at least an additional $5m as CDC Mayor
In the case of Teo Ser Luck who “retired” from politics last year, it has been estimated that he made at least an additional $5 million as Mayor of North East CDC from 2009 to 2017.
Teo first entered Parliament after 2006 GE. He contested under a 6-man team in the Pasir Ris–Punggol GRC. Following his election, he was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS). In 2008, he was promoted to Senior Parliamentary Secretary at the MCYS and the Ministry of Transport. In 2009, he took on the addition role of Mayor of the North East CDC, in addition to his political appointments.
Teo had also served as the Chairman of the National Youth Council and the Chairman of the Young PAP. He was also heavily involved in the organisation of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010. He was able to lead Singapore’s successful bid for the games and was an advisor to the organising committee, while serving as mayor.
After the 2011 GE, Teo was promoted to become Minister of State at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and continued to serve as Mayor of the North East CDC. After 2015 GE, he was appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
In Apr 2017, he announced that he would “step down” from public office and “return to the private sector”. He relinquished his appointments as Mayor of North East CDC and Minister of State for Manpower on May 26 and June 30 respectively but continued to be MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
At the time of his announcement to step down from public office, Teo told everyone that his passion is in creating start-ups and businesses, “I plan to build, create, invest or help start-ups and businesses. Some are tech related while others will be in products or services which I’m passionate about.”
He finally quit politics completely last year after 2020 GE.
In his 3 terms as PAP MP in Parliament, he earned millions of dollars in salary. Using the revised ministerial salaries set in 2012 (salaries before were much higher), his estimated earnings were:
- Parliamentary Secretary (about 2 years) – $418K x 2 = $836K
- Senior Parliamentary Secretary (about 3 years) – $572K x 3 = $1.7M
- Mayor of North East CDC (about 8 years) – $660K x 8 = $5.3M
- Minister of State (about 6 years) – $770K x 6 = $4.6M
TOTAL = $12.4M
This did not even include the monthly $16K salary he earned as MP from 2006 to 2020. In any case, the ability of Teo to hold multiple positions and still able to do his mayor work in CDC was truly amazing.