Sunday, 24 September 2023

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While the people share a shrinking pie, they want to have their cake and eat it

by Augustine Low

We were told that paying our ministers top dollar was to compensate them for their sacrifice of foregoing big bucks in the private sector.

So we thought that settled the issue.

But when something like the Ridout controversy crops up, the rumblings we keep hearing are that ministers – already the world’s highest paid – have to make a huge sacrifice to go into politics. Yet their sacrifice is met with people raising a hue and cry over ministers’ rental of government bungalows.

So the issue of salary and sacrifice, which we thought was settled, is not settled after all.

What they want is to have their cake and eat it.

Having ownself convinced ownself they need to be paid handsomely for their sacrifice, they still harp on sacrifice of loss of income whenever it suits them.

If a salary well in excess of a million dollars a year is not enough, then what is?

The one that takes the cake is a video posting on Facebook by former People’s Action Party Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah.

She said there was no need even for an investigation or a debate in Parliament on the Ridout saga.

Calling Minister K Shanmugam a “big-hearted man,” she said he “earned at least $100 million lesser” since entering politics to “serve the people.”

Where she got that stupendous $100 million figure from, she did not say. This is the kind of sacrifice talked about wildly, with numbers thrown in from nowhere.

When it comes to sacrifice, aren’t the people the ones who shoulder the lion’s share of the burden?

Earning a minuscule fraction of what ministers earn, the people have to cope with GST increase, cost of living increase, runaway public housing prices, rise in COE prices, rise in ERP rates, rise in healthcare premiums, rise in utility rates, rise in joblessness, and rise in job insecurity.

Still, they want the people to bite the bullet, make do with less, and get on with life.

But they themselves dwell on sacrifice as if they are disadvantaged when in effect, they are the masters and the people the servants.

Their self-entitlement extends to elections – they want nothing but the whole cake to themselves.

Having won an overwhelming majority of seats, they get upset over losing a few slices of the cake. They turn around and call opposition voters “free riders.”

Instead of pledging to work hard for everyone, regardless of who they voted for, they throw a tantrum for not having it all their way.

Never mind that the people have to struggle and slog away for a share of the pie that is shrinking. Sometimes there are only scraps left.

But the cake is all theirs, to have and to eat.

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