Singaporeans should be heartened that Dear Kuan Yew has returned from his political mausoleum to share with us more hard truths about Singapore. Needless to say, Kuan Yew believes in “competitive” salaries for ministers and employs his eight-decade old strategy of exaggerated misinterpretation to deal with his detractors. (I presume it is eight-decade old since the strategy must have come from someone with the mind of a child.) Where Kuan Yew is concerned, requesting for a cup of tea to quench your thirst is no different from demanding from him a tea plantation to satisfy your avarice. If you tell him that ministers should not be paid ridiculously high salaries, you can expect him to retort that we must not pay ministers ludicrously low salaries. The sense of anticipation, then, comes from what new ingenious comments he has to make.
Kuan Yew certainly does not disappoint. Even as he resorts to the exaggerated-misinterpretation strategy (perhaps it is a matter of bad karma that the PAP guys are so often misinterpreted these days), he does so with such breathtaking dexterity that your eyes will forget to close till the hard truths have sunk into your resistant minds. No doubt, he still alludes to his favorite third-world-to-first grand narrative, but he has new truths to share as always. From Kuan Yew, we learn the shocking truth that most people (possibly more than 99%) in Singapore have children whose futures are doomed. I must admit that my contempt for him beat an indignant retreat in the face of his well-armed honesty, which has come out in full force.
Kuan Yew explains with what I can only imagine to be a straight face that Singapore’s progress did not come about by “head-hunting ministers willing to sacrifice their children’s future when undertaking a public service duty.” In Kuan Yew’s world, if someone becomes a minister with a salary that is uncompetitive, his children are doomed. From what we have been hearing of late, we can assume that a $500k annual salary is not competitive by the standards of the PAP, so it is safe to say that with a $500k salary, a minister would have to suffer a drastic change in the standard of living and sacrifice his children’s future. Given that the cost of living is not any higher for a minister than for anyone else in the country, it follows that anyone earning $500k or less per year does not earn enough to secure his children’s future. This is entirely plausible—people in Singapore have 500 children and a $500k annual salary leaves each member of the nuclear family with less than $1,000 per annum.
What tough lives Singaporeans earning uncompetitive salaries lead. This is the sort of first world that Kuan Yew has created for us. Is this what we call a confession?
What the potential plight of ministers tells us about Singaporeans aside, we must maintain Singapore as it is (i.e. as described above) by continuing to take a “pragmatic course that does not require people of calibre to give up too much for the public good.” Certainly, other people can be expected to give up more, perhaps even their lives as in the case of some unfortunate NSmen, because they are not people of calibre. If we do not maintain Singapore as it is, we will become part of the Third World again. And this means that Singaporeans could be flocking to a country that is a virtual clone of Singapore to be embraced as foreign talents there. This is a frightening situation that we do not want to find ourselves in, so let us continue to allow PAP ministers to draw million-dollar salaries while the rest of us sacrifice our children’s future. Sorry kids, Singapore is more important. Our ministers will continue to work for the greater good in the form of stagnant costs of living and ever-escalating salaries.
Please accept my further apologies if any words have been misplaced. Kuan Yew’s words of wisdom are so intoxicating that I am losing the last remnants of lucidity.
If Singaporeans are still unhappy about how some people can pay themselves competitive salaries and be self-righteous about it, they must be reminded that PAP ministers “put their careers at risk and undergo an uncertain and unpredictable election process.” We know how uncertain walkovers are. One day you are preparing for an intense election campaign, the next day you realize that you have no political competition. One day you are happily eating XO carrot cake, the next day you have to ask your lawyer to sue someone for defamation. We cannot underestimate the adverse ill-effects of such unpredictability.
Perhaps Singapore should pay opposition politicians millions of dollars too. They put themselves at risk and often undergo predictable elections and uncertain law suits.
Fine, if you are still unwilling to pay ministers competitive salaries, then you should stop making elections uncertain. If an overwhelming majority of Singaporeans support opposition parties, the next election will no longer be uncertain and you can avoid paying competitive salaries if you are that miserly. See, Kuan Yew is so damned honest he has provided you with a solution to all this nonsense about ministerial salaries. And he’s only drawing an MP allowance and a pension now.