In his two-hour speech in parliament defending the proposed ministerial salary hike, Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong justified the move by saying that “I’m worried about somebody wanting to be Prime Minister, hoping to be paid not a single cent but still collect $400 million — under the table…”
This is a flawed argument. First, it is precisely to prevent a rogue prime minister from taking office that we need to have checks and balances in the government. Right now this is non-existent, which explains why Lee Hsien Loong can get away with whatever he proposes.
Secondly, using the example cited by Lee, what is the difference if the said prime minister is paid S$400 million legally but collects nothing under the table? And even if the said prime minister is paid S$400 million, is there any guarantee that this will stop him from attempting to collect more under the table? Greed has no limit, you know.
In my last post, I forgot to document this statement by Lee explaining why he is donating his salary increases rather than forfeit them in the first place: “The government will pay me my full salary because that is how the system will have to work…”
This either shows a lack of flexibility (typical textbook-style thinking – that’s the system so that’s how it must work) or a lack of initiative to evaluate the merits of an established system. Or perhaps both.
In any case, it clearly demonstrates a lack of leadership on the part of Lee. And we’re paying him in excess of S$2.5 million this year and S$3 million (or the equivalent of 5 peanuts) by the end of 2008?