and also a side swipe at Internet writers…
One friend of recent acquaintance is very passionate about stuff, from animals to bikes (for which read motor), cars n opinions. Hence, the recent brouhaha over a top civil servant’s tell-all in the Straits Times about his French cooking holiday incited him to send me his take on high pay for the people who run Singapore. Below is an extract:
“I have been shooting my mouth (and my PC) off on the subject of ministerial and civil service pay, and will do it again, adding for a good measure this time some comments on the irresponsible behaviour of Netizens.
“You are aware that I did go to school, the same one that produced three out of the last five leaders of this country, in addition to a disproportionate number of the minions who help in keeping this whole syndicate together. One of the topics that I have consistently defended is that of the need to pay for talent.
“This, even though I have little hope of joining their elite club, since the leaders, on two separate occassions, have stated in public speeches that they are reluctant to accept car salesmen into their inner circle.
“Let’s get real. Somebody said that the problems on Wall Street could partly be attributed to the fact that fellows earning US$80,000 per year were left to regulate fellows earning US$10 million a year.
“That was part of the problem. There was a huge difference between the buying (and legal fee power) of the regulators and the regulated.
While briefing their squad on traffic regulations, one of the officers reminded his staff – “You cannot allow anybody to park along this stretch, but you must be very careful. There will be Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches at the reception, and they may not get out of the parking lots by the time we want to clear the road, so you may have to call the tow truck. If you do, take pictures, take videos, and have reliable witnesses, because these owners will not hesitate to take you to court. They have plenty of money and good lawyers. You have to fight the case on your own.”
“Even in Singapore, those in charge of enforcing the law are circumspect when they encounter obviously high-net-worth persons in the course of their duties.
“Taking the point further, having worked in neighbouring countries, I know that the standard of civil service pay is appalling. And so is the standard of the civil services. The entire economy suffers as a consequence.
“I am going to make an assumption that many of my classmates would have drawn annual salaries somewhere between Putin’s and Obama’s at the time when they reached retirement age. I also know for a fact that some of my classmates were in the multi-million dollar bracket, since they were senior officers in public listed companies, and their remuneration was posted for the public record.
“The responsibilities, and personal commitments, necessary to run even one of the larger publicly listed companies in Singapore pale in comparison to taking care of a town council, much less a government.
“Corporate issues are far more straightforward. The business of business is business, and it would not be easy for outside parties to criticise you if you stick to this criterion.
“The issues facing a government are far more complex. And while some, like the Minister Mentor, so love politics that he might have taken the job for a salary of $1 (as claimed by David Marshall) most other ordinary human beings do want recognition in proportion to their responsibilities and some tangible rewards that will allow them to enjoy, if not an indecently opulent, at least a superior standard of living. If they don’t, their wives and children do, and will put pressure on them to quit.
“Having seen the way substandard management screws up promising companies, I agree that in government we must have the best money can buy.
“Which brings me to another point. Whether or not what we got were the best, or only the best willing to take the job, is debatable. But I can contribute my two cents worth and state that the services, of which I have had personal experience, provided by Goh Chok Tong, Chan Soo Sen, Lim Hwee Hwa, Ong Leong Boon, George Yeo and a few others have been above expectations.
“How did I end up having to use the services of people in government? I took the advice of Tay Keng Soon, who said that since they had insisted on imposing their rule on us, it was our duty to make use of all the services that they had promised to provide.
“I got them to have traffic laws changed, drains constructed, road traffic re-aligned, and public nuisances removed from our neighbourhood.If there is anything you feel needs to be done, write to your MP or the relevant government department, make them earn their (numerically) very high salaries. If your request is reasonable and logical, action would be taken.
“Which brings me to Netizens.
“Netizens hide behind anonymity to make totally irresponsible accusations. While I do not agree with Mr Tan Yong Soon for making his holiday public, I also do not think that some of his critics reacted in the correct manner.”