Last Wednesday (24 Feb) in Parliament, Leader of the Opposition, Workers’ Party (WP) Pritam Singh, raised questions in relation to the need for mayors and the role of the Community Development Councils (CDCs) run by them (‘Mayor Denise Phua’s rebuttal of Pritam Singh is hypocritical and disingenuous, given she benefits from high mayoral salary‘).

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Singh highlighted that many Singaporeans were of the view that the salaries of mayors were “outrageous” and do not “commensurate with the mayor’s roles and functions today”.

The bugbear concerning mayors and the CDCs are not new. Indeed, questions have been asked as to whether or not mayors have been paid handsomely just for job duplication with elected members of parliament (MP).

Questions have also been previously raised with regards to the eye-watering salaries that such mayors are paid. This was also an issue that was raised by WP MP Leon Perera in the past.

Yet despite the mounting criticism, the Mayor of Central Singapore District who is also a MP for Jalan Besar GRC, Denise Phua, rejected Mr Singh’s questioning and accused him of politicizing the issue. She further labelled Mr Singh’s suggestions that CCCs or grassroots volunteers could run the voucher scheme as “ignorant of or insensitive to the reality on the ground”.

London mayor earns S$284K to take care of 9 millions

According to the 2012 White Paper on government salaries, mayors are paid an annual salary of S$660,000. This is in addition to their annual MP allowance of $192,500.

Meanwhile, the present London mayor, Sadiq Khan, is found to be only earning an annual salary of £152,734 or S$284,000. In fact, he volunteered to take an immediate 10 percent pay cut to his salary last year, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Wikipedia, as at 2019, London has a population of 8,961,989 or about 9.0 million. That is to say, the London mayor is paid a salary of only S$284,000 to take care of a population of 9 million in London.

The Mayor of London is given specific powers and duties and a general power to promote economic, social and environmental improvements in London. The Mayor has a duty to set out plans and policies for London covering transport, planning and development, housing, economic development and regeneration, culture health inequalities and a range of environmental issues including climate change and air quality.

The Mayor has a number of other duties relating to culture and tourism, including responsibility for Trafalgar and Parliament Squares. The Mayor also sets an annual budget for the Greater London Authority (GLA) and for the GLA Group, which includes Transport for LondonThe Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.

In the case Denise Phua, she takes care of residents living in the Central Singapore District and according to CDC website, the CDC serves close to 1 million residents living there. Not much is said about the role of a mayor.

That is to say, Denise Phua is paid a salary of S$660,000 at least — not including her MP pay of S$192,500 — or 2.3 times more than the London’s mayor just to take care of close to 1 million residents in the Central District of Singapore.

Hence, purely from an economic point of view, wouldn’t it be cheaper for Singaporean taxpayers to hire the London mayor to replace Denise Phua instead?

Not to mention that Singapore has five mayors such as Ms Phua, perhaps 1 London mayor alone with a salary of S$284,000 is sufficient to oversee a population of 5.7 million in Singapore since he already has the necessary experience to oversee a population of 9 million in London?

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