The Crazy Rich Salaries of Singapore's Ministers Versus the Poor Peasants Who Support Them

The Crazy Rich Salaries of Singapore's Ministers Versus the Poor Peasants Who Support Them
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Singapore's Crazy Rich Ministers are busy stuffing their own coffers as poverty and inequality run rampant.

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Cover cartoon by Stellina Chen

Singapore’s ministers are living like the kings and queens that they believe themselves to be.

When comparing what Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong pays himself with what political leaders in other countries are paid, Lee's salary shoots through the roof, literally (red bar in chart below).

The prime minister pays himself a base salary of S$2.2 million (US$1.6 million) a year, but the next highest political leader salary is about a whopping one-third less (in Hong Kong).

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Generally, the higher a country’s GDP per capita, the higher the salary of their political leaders.

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So where is Singapore?

Singapore is that little red dot all the way on the other side (in the chart below), in its own little world. Where countries with a similar GDP per capita as Singapore (about US$50,000 to US$80,000 a year) pay their political leaders between US$200,000 and US$500,000 a year, Singapore’s prime minister takes it upon himself to pay himself more than US$1.6 million a year, or more than three to six times more what is generally acceptable – and this is not yet including his bonuses.

If Singapore were to follow the trendline, Singapore’s prime minister should only be earning about US$500,000 at most. He is earning at least more than 3 times this amount now.

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Singapore’s ministers claim that they peg their salaries to “60 percent of the median income of the top 1,000 earners who are Singapore Citizens, or the highest-earning income earners in Singapore”.

So when we compare the salaries of political leaders around the world with executive pay (in chart below), in general you see somewhat of a trend – in countries with higher paid executives, political leaders also earn higher salaries.

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So, where is Singapore again? See below.

Again, Singapore falls off the charts – its prime minister pays himself over and above what other political leaders earn in comparison to executive pay. Whereas the salaries of the political leaders in other countries are seemingly pegged to executive pay, Singapore uses the excuse of pegging its ministerial salaries to the rich, to pay its prime minister extravagantly.

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But then, there is a correlation between the salaries of political leaders and executive pay also because political leaders (and executives) are paid corresponding to the cost of living in their countries – you do see a match when you compare the salaries of political leaders with the cost of living (as below).

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Again, where does Singapore stand? Last weekend, during his national day rally speech, the prime minister told Singaporeans that the cost of living in Singapore is increasing because of people’s “changing lifestyle,” citing “how handphones, infant formula, and eating out, among other things” have increased the cost of living.

The prime minister said: “When I was an infant, there were no such expensive brands of infant milk formula, yet my generation still grew up healthily. So I believe the next generation will not have a problem.”

He also talked about “ways to bring down their telecommunications bills. For example, don’t use 4G to watch movies when you are outside.”

Actually, he also touched on the same topics of milk powder, handphones and food prices in his national day rally speech 10 years ago. But nothing has changed.

Anyway, the prime minister also told Singaporeans: “Each of us has a responsibility to ‘look after our own wallets’ – save water, save electricity, and at the same time, shop around for the best prices and be a smart consumer.”

Since he wants Singaporeans to save on this and that and how it must be so poor for him to grow up in a generation which grew up with “no such expensive” milk powder, the poor prime minister must surely also not earn enough when compared to the cost of living in Singapore, and would have to save too.

But actually, this is not the case – the prime minister pays himself several times more than what he should be paid if his salary is pegged to the cost of living. Based on the trendline in the chart below, Singapore’s prime minister should only be earning about US$400,000, or a quarter of what he is currently paying himself, if he should be earning commensurate to the cost of living in Singapore.

Double standards much? He wants to pay himself and his ministers several times more than what he/they need for the cost of living in Singapore, but he wants Singaporeans to cut down on their expenses.

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But the Singapore ministers like to say that they pay their prime minister and ministers high salaries so as to prevent corruption. So, let’s see – generally higher-income countries, and the resultant higher political salaries, also rank better on the corruption perception index.

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So again, where is Singapore? Again, on the extreme end, unconnected to the general trendline.

Just by looking at the chart below, you can see that what the Singapore government likes to say about paying its ministers overly-high salaries is plain nonsense. Among countries which rank similarly high as Singapore on the corruption perception index, their political leaders earn between US$150,000 and US$500,000. Singapore’s prime minister earns more than 3 to 10 times more than those leaders.

In fact, with the kind of salary that Singapore is paying its ministers, all the countries on the corruption perception index should fall far behind Singapore. But this is not the case. In fact, Singapore ranks only 6th, after New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Switzerland. If so, then Singaporeans are not getting their money worth! Singapore’s ministers have not made Singapore honest enough!

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Not only that, New Zealand ranks top on the corruption perception index, but earlier this month when New Zealand’s independent Remuneration Authority recommended increasing the salary of the country’s politicians, its prime minister Jacinda Ardern decided to block it. She said: “We do not believe, given that we are on the upper end of the salary scale, that we should be receiving that kind of salary increase.

“Because we, of course, already are on a high income … one of the things we've been trying to bridge as a government is the fact that we see these increases at the top end of the scale, without the same increase at the end of the scale where most New Zealanders sit,” she added.

The New Zealand prime minister earns one-fifth that of the Singapore prime minister and already, her conscience tells her it is too much. More important, countries like New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are all able to maintain a low level of corruption while paying their political leaders one-fifth the salary of Singapore’s prime minister.

Singapore’s prime minister is clearly over-paid. Singaporeans should be asking for their money back. And if their ministers still insist that they are not paid enough, then well.

Clearly, there is no need for the Singapore prime minister to earn US$1.6 million. Based on the general trend, US$500,000 would be more than enough for the Singapore prime minister, or if you want to follow the trendline, the prime minister should not be earning more than US$600,000 – Singapore’s prime minister earns three times that, or more. In fact, when you look at the other countries which rank similarly on the corruption perception index, their political leaders do not even earn close to the trendline – they earn lesser. It seems that the richer the country is, the less their political leaders need to earn to maintain a low-level of corruption.

Only the Singapore ministers have the fantasy that it is otherwise. Only the ministers in Singapore needs to earn so much more than their peers to be able to prevent corruption. Clearly, my dear Singaporeans, your ministers can earn eight times lesser to be able to maintain low corruption, if that is what they truly want.

But let’s take a look at the relationship between the corruption perception index with crony capitalism (in the chart below). You can see that countries which rank lower on the corruption perception index (and with higher corruption) also have higher levels of crony capitalism – or as The Economist explained it, are “the countries where politically connected businessmen are most likely to prosper”.

So, where is Singapore? It is that little red dot on top (in the chart below). Interestingly, Singapore ranks high on the corruption perception index, but it also has a relatively high level of crony capitalism. But thankfully, the Singapore ministers cannot be corrupt, right? Right? Thankfully they buck the trend and are so upright and clean. What lucky Singaporeans. Singaporeans have angels as their ministers.

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In fact, last year a government-linked company, Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd, was embroiled in one of the world’s worst corruption scandals ever – they had to pay the seventh highest corruption penalty of all time to the United States Department of Justice. Not only that, Lee Boon Yang, the chairman of the parent company of Keppel Offshore & Marine, Keppel Corp, and Alvin Yeo, a board member on Keppel Corp and a member of their internal audit committee, were previous politicians (the former a minister) of the current ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) government. But thankfully these two were not involved in the corruption case, proving that Singapore’s ministers and politicians must be so clean.

In a speech earlier this month, the Singapore prime minister even said: “Wherever Keppel’s business takes it in the world, it is seen as a Singapore company and flies the Singapore flag. […] Other Singapore companies, GLCs and non-GLCs, have benefited from Keppel’s trail-blazing expeditions and reputation in overseas markets.”

“Keppel is a sterling example of a successful GLC that is run completely on a commercial basis,” the prime minister continued to claim.

Funnily, he also said: “Keppel’s journey in the last fifty years mirrors our nation-building story.”

So, back to our story, what else do Singapore’s ministers allow themselves to get away with?

Countries with higher GDP per capita tend to have higher personal income taxes – partly because their citizens earn higher wages on average and can afford to pay higher taxes. And it is indeed the case for the other countries (as shown in chart below). You can see that the richer a country becomes, their personal income taxes would also likely be higher than the trendline, but Singapore is one of the very few high-income countries where taxes are so much lower. (Hong Kong is another).

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Indeed, you can also see that with higher wages, people would be able to afford to pay higher taxes.

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Correspondingly, in countries where their political leaders earn higher salaries, there are also higher taxes.

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Now, do you know what bucks the trend? Yeah, you should kinda know how it works by now.

The Singapore prime minister earns the highest political salary in the world, but when compared to other similarly high-income countries, he also gets to pay the lowest personal income tax. So good, right? He gets to keep so much of his salary for himself. See below.

The Singapore government enacted laws to allow themselves to pay a low tax of 20 percent, when according to the trendline the prime minister should be paying at least 50 percent. And even if he did pay a tax of 50 percent, he would still earn the highest political salary in the world, at US$800,000. Why Singaporeans would even allow themselves to keep voting for ministers who pay themselves such unworldly salaries is incomprehensible.

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The Singapore prime minister is doing very well, but what about his citizens? In general, in countries where the salary of the political leader is higher, the expenditure on social protection (as a percentage of GDP) is also higher (see chart below)

But where does Singapore stand – well, you get the point. The Singapore prime minister earns the highest political salary in the world and by right, the social protection expenditure for Singaporeans should correspondingly also be the highest, or at about 40 percent of GDP if we follow the trendline. But no, Singapore’s social protection expenditure is only 4.2 percent, or the lowest among high-income countries, and even as low as the low-income countries.

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Earlier this month, Singapore’s former prime minister Goh Chok Tong had this to say about the high ministerial salaries: “If you say please give the [old people] a pension, that is again a very popular idea, and there are some societies which actually do that, when you reach a certain age, you get pension for life. Somebody must pay for the pension. And you got it right. Take it from somewhere else. Had you suggested to up GST by 2 percent and give them the pension, I would have applauded you. Seriously. Because you are then taxing the whole society to support older ones. But you did not.”

“You said cut Ministers’ salaries [to give ‘old people’ a pension],” he added. “That is very populist. I am telling you the Ministers are not paid enough, and down the road, we are going to get a problem with getting people to join the government, because civil servants now earn more than Ministers. Are you aware of that?”

“I have tried for the last election,” he continued. “Two of them, earning S$5 million per month, S$10 million per month (sic – [he] meant per year). To be a Minister for S$1 million? No, no, my family is not happy.”

He added: To anyone of us here, S$1 million is a lot of money. So where do you want to get your Ministers from? From people who earn only S$500,000 a year, whose capacity is S$500,000 a year? So (when) I look for Ministers, anybody who wants to be paid more than half a million, I won’t take him. You are going to end up with very very mediocre people, who can’t even earn a million dollars outside to be our Minister.”

So this is what it is – even though the Singapore prime minister (and ministers) are paid several times more than their counterparts, and more than what generally corresponds to the cost of living, they still do not think it is enough, and do not want to cut down their salaries.

Yet the Singapore prime minister wants Singaporeans to cut down on their spending while he does not want to cut down on his own salary, even though he is paying himself significantly more than how much he needs for the cost living in Singapore.

Such hypocrisy. How do Singaporeans tolerate this crap?

Now, based on how much the Singapore prime minister is willing to pay his citizens for their social protection, he should only be earning about US$100,000 to US$300,000, if following most of the other countries which spend about only a similarly low 4 percent of social protection on their citizens.

But instead, what you are seeing is that the prime minister pays himself the highest of salaries and gets to pay the lowest taxes (when he should be paying the most comparatively), and even though his government should spend the most on Singaporeans’ social protection expenditure, his government is willing to only give Singaporeans the least. Astonishing, isn’t it?

In the end, what do you get? In other countries, you see that in countries where their political leaders earn higher salaries, poverty rates also tend to be lower.

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This is also because countries with higher incomes tend to have lower poverty. (See the red dot below – Singapore has a high GDP per capita but yet it still has very high poverty levels.)

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The Singapore government refuses to define a poverty line. Singaporean academics estimated Singapore’s poverty rate to be as high as 35 percent. And when you correlate Singapore’s poverty rate with the prime minister salary, this is what you get (chart below) – Singapore’s poverty rate is several times higher than the trendline.

Based on how much Singapore prime minister pays himself, Singapore should have been able to completely wipe out poverty by now, if following the trend. But yet, Singapore has the highest poverty levels among the high-income countries.

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So, why is it that Singapore’s prime minister allows himself to be so crazy rich but make Singaporeans so crazy poor?

As you saw earlier, countries which are more corrupt also have higher levels of crony capitalism. In fact, you can also see that in general, the higher the level of crony capitalism in a country, the higher its poverty level.

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Its income inequality will also be higher.

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And the country would also spend less on social protection.

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In fact, research has shown that “corruption depends on the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in the municipality, i.e., high inequality means greater corruption.”

The study also found that “higher politicians’ wages do not reduce their incentives to be corrupt” and that “[higher] public sector wages are not an effective mechanism to deter corruption”. In fact, the research pointed out that “some politicians, despite earning high wages, may continue to engage in corrupt practices because of their own psychological or moral makeup or because some of the bribes offered may be too attractive.

But Singaporeans are so lucky, even though poverty and income inequality is so high, and the government spends so little on social protection, thankfully it is only the businesses which are cronies and the government and ministers are such incorruptible beasts. Singapore is so Magiclean.

When asked why Singapore ranks so high on the corruption perception index, a former head of Transparency International (which came out with the index) explained that the corruption perception index measures what it is – perception.

In fact, the index looks at the “perceptions by business people and country experts”. And among the business people are many who are government-linked. In fact, in a study of 27 high-income countries, Singapore had to highest state-control of companies in the world.

Which means that not only are Singapore's ministers so adept at not being corrupt, they are also 'perceived' to be clean.

Aren't Singaporeans so lucky? I suppose that, as the Singapore ministers become so rich legally, there is very little reason they still need to be corrupt.

As Singapore’s deputy prime minister Teo Chee Hean once said, “If we don’t [pay high salaries to ministers] ... corruption will set in and we will become like many other countries.”

In fact, the Singapore ministers have mastered the impossible art of entrenching the high poverty and inequality among its citizens while still remaining so perceptibly clean. It is a feat that no other country has been able to achieve! Singapore Number One all the way!

Hail Lee Hsien Loong! Hail the People's Action Party!

When you compare the salaries of the political leaders with their countries’ minimum wages, you generally also see a trend – countries with higher political salaries also have higher minimum wages.

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Now, Singapore does not have a minimum wage because, again, its lordships are unwilling to give its citizens one. But Singapore’s security guards earn a base rate of S$1,100 (US$800), so if we use this as comparison, Singaporeans are being short-changed so badly. You can clearly see that Singaporeans are paid the lowest among other similarly-high-income countries.

And note, they are still 17.5 percent of Singapore residents who earn less than S$1,500 (US$1,000), or at least 25.9 percent of the workforce when you include the foreign workforce.

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In fact, there are still full-time Singapore resident workers who earn less than S$500 a month or S$6,000 (US$4,395) a year, and when you chart Singapore accordingly (in chart below), the comparison is even worse. Singapore’s prime minister earns the highest political salary in the world but low-income Singaporeans earn the lowest wages among high-income countries.

In addition, the Nordic countries have often been held as the gold standard for countries to emulate and in 1984, before he became prime minister, Goh Chok Tong also set a target for Singapore to reach a “Swiss standard of living” by 1999. The Nordic countries and Switzerland do not have minimum wages but wages are collectively bargained between labor unions and employers.

When we compare Singapore with the minimum rate wages in the Nordic countries and Switzerland, not only has Singapore still not achieved the “Swiss standard of living” 20 years on after 1999, it performs the worst – on the other hand, workers in the Nordic countries and Switzerland are paid the highest wages in the world (in green dots in chart below).

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If Singaporeans should be similarly compensated corresponding to what their lordship, I mean, prime minister, is earning, then minimum wage should be about US$45,000 a year, or about US$3,750 a month, or S$5,150 a month. However, today, more than 67.5 percent of Singapore residents earn less than S$5,000 a month, or at least 74 percent of the workforce when you include the foreign workforce. If the Singapore prime minister earns correspondingly to Singaporeans along the trendline, then he should only be paid S$250,000 at most. He is currently paid six to seven times more than that, which may I remind you, this is comparing only his base pay, and does not yet include his bonuses.

But why does the Singapore prime minister seemingly get to do whatever he wants?

Generally, you see that countries which are ranked higher on freedom also have higher minimum wages. Note that Singapore’s low ‘minimum wage’ for security guards corresponds to its low levels of freedom.

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In fact, when you compare Singapore’s freedoms, or lack thereof, with the even lower wages of full-time Singapore residents of S$500, it makes even more sense – Singapore fits in nicely. Precisely because Singapore lacks freedom, therefore its low-income workers earn wages as low as the minimum wages of Third World countries.

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Perhaps this is more obvious when comparing Singapore with the other high-income countries. You can see that because of Singapore’s low freedom, it therefore has the one of the lowest ‘minimum’ wages among similarly high-income countries. When the Nordic countries and Switzerland are thrown into the mix, you can also see that because they have the highest levels of freedom, their workers have been able to fight for the highest wages (in green dots in chart below).

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You also see that countries which are ranked higher on freedom also have higher GDP per capita. Note again that even though Singapore has a high GDP per capita, it contradictorily has low levels of freedom.

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Again, when comparing Singapore with the other high-income countries, even though it has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world, its government and prime minister have chosen to let Singaporeans have among the fewest freedoms among the high-income countries.

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In fact, in other countries which rank higher on the freedom index, their political leaders also earn higher salaries, possibly because of the higher GDP per capita.

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And – you would know the plot by now – the Singapore prime minister bucks the trend. The country he rules is not that free, but yet (or rather, therefore) he gets to pay himself the highest political salary in the world.

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For minimum wage, because Singapore’s level of freedom is so low, the country’s workers barely have the right to fight for higher wages. The base wage that the Singapore prime minister’s government is therefore willing to pay security guards (and low-income workers) is also low – the lowest among similarly high-income countries – because the prime minister’s government has the freedom to decide how much it wants to give – not much – and its citizens have little freedom to ask for more.

In fact, when you compare minimum wage with GDP per capita, you can see that the higher the income of the country, the higher the minimum wage.

Again, Singapore is the anomaly here, where the base wage of security guards is much lower than the trendline when compared with other countries. If Singaporeans are already paid lower than how much they should earn corresponding to the cost of living in Singapore, why does the Singapore prime minister still want Singaporeans to cut down on their spending? Shouldn’t the prime minister increase the wages of Singaporeans instead? What else does the prime minister want Singaporeans to cut down on when they already do not earn enough?

The other two countries which also fall further away from the trendline are Australia and New Zealand (in yellow), but in these two countries, it is the other way round. They are willing to pay their citizens more than when compared with their GDP per capita. And there is also Luxembourg (in green).

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When you compare Luxembourg’s minimum wage with its cost of living (see chart below), it is actually comparable. Indeed, the minimum wage of countries generally trend together with their cost of living – countries with a higher cost of living also have higher minimum wages.

But again, in Singapore, while the cost of living is higher than the rest, the base wage of security guards (and low-wage workers) is the lowest among the other minimum wages in other countries. If Singapore’s workers should earn a minimum wage corresponding to their cost of living, they should be earning nearly three times more, or about US$26,000 a year, which would be about US$2,170 or S$2,980 a month.

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Again, when you compare with the wages of full-time Singapore resident workers who earn only S$500, it becomes even more glaring – low-income Singaporeans are earning way less than what they should be earning, as compared to the cost of living in Singapore.

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They are also earning way less than what is commensurate to, and adequate for, the cost of living in Singapore.

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Indeed, when comparing Singapore with countries with a similar cost of living, their minimum wages are all higher than Singapore’s (see chart below). The base wage of Singapore’s security guards is only one-third that of the minimum wage in Luxembourg. And workers in Singapore who earn less than S$500 are earning less than one-sixth that of Luxembourg’s minimum wage.

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The same goes for GDP per capita – in countries with a similar GDP per capita as Singapore, their minimum wages are also all higher than Singapore’s. The base wage of Singapore’s security guards is only one-third that of the minimum wage in Australia. And workers in Singapore who earn less than S$500 are earning less than one-sixth that of Australia’s minimum wage.

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Basically, Singapore’s low-income earners earn the lowest wages among similarly-high-income countries.

Maybe if we compare the difference between political salaries and minimum wages, it becomes more glaring – Singapore’s prime minister earns 169 times more than the base way of a security guard, which makes the pay gap among the 15 widest in the world, and the highest among the high-income countries (see red bars in chart below). In fact, the prime minister earns 371 times more than a worker who earns only S$500 a month, which would put the pay gap among the third largest in the world, only after Cameroon and Uganda. (Venezuela has not been included in the comparison because of its uncontrolled wage and price increases over the last few years.)

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When comparing Singapore with the other high-income countries (in the chart below), you can indeed see that Singapore has the worst pay gap between the prime minister and low-income workers, while on the other end, not only do the Nordic citizens have the highest wages in the world, the pay gap between their political leaders and low-income workers is also the lowest.

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In fact, when you compare the pay gap with GDP per capita, you generally see a trend – countries with a higher GDP per capita have a lower pay gap, because they are also freer and therefore more equal. In the chart below, the outlier you see is Hong Kong. If you think Hong Kong is bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Look at the next chart.

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The chart below is where Singapore is – it has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world but yet, it also has one of the highest pay gaps in the world, when it should be the other way round. Singapore is several times worse than Hong Kong.

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And again, when comparing with the wages of workers in Singapore who earn less than S$500, Singapore’s pay gap is embarrassing (see chart below). It is simply inhumane for a country where its government claims itself to be first world. The pay gap is pathetic.

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So, you see, things are expensive in Singapore because Singaporeans’ wages are low. And what is the Singapore prime minister’s solution to that?

He does not want to increase wages for the citizens of Singapore. During his rally, he told them to suck it up even though their wages are low, and to cut down on their spending even though it is already quite difficult to do so in Singapore.

But do you know who earns more than the Singapore prime minister? See below.

pay

In fact, when you include the bonuses that the prime minister pays himself, he would most probably earn as much as the King of Netherlands and the Japanese Emperor, and it is possible that he might earn as much as the Queen of Denmark and the King of Belgium. And when including his family wealth, it could also be possible that the Lee family could be as rich as the Queen of England – he and his father have been paid millions for the past two to three decades as prime ministers.

When the Singapore prime minister said that there needs to be a “certain natural aristocracy in the system”, he means it, you know? He honestly believes that he and his ministers should be paid in millions like the kings and queens of the other countries. He truly believes he is royalty.

And you, my dear Singaporeans, are the glorified peasants.

Read More: OPINION: On the Distorted Logic of Ministerial Salaries in Singapore

What kind of breed is the prime minister and his minsters who need to be paid millions of dollars to prevent corruption, when the political leaders of the other clean countries can do it at one-sixth the cost. Singapore’s ministers aren’t very good value for money, are they?

To upkeep their lifestyles to prevent them from being corrupt, Singaporeans have to pay a higher cost per head just to do so. You sack the whole bunch of them and you can get good leaders at one-sixth the cost to truly prevent corruption.

Singapore’s ministers require a lot of investment but when it comes to the outcomes, they cannot even guarantee Singaporeans a minimum wage on par with the country’s cost of living, in fact, they do not even have the capability to put a lid on the country’s income inequality and poverty levels, and the prime minister has the cheek to ask Singaporeans to cut down on their spending while he and his ministers continue to live lavishly. Singapore’s ministers are truly not worth their salt.

Why would older Singaporeans who have eaten more salt than these ministers have eaten rice (an old Chinese saying) allow themselves to be dictated and controlled by these clearly incompetent ministers? Whenever they keep increasing their salaries, they are telling Singaporeans that they do not know how to do their jobs properly on their ‘low’ pay. Then Singaporeans should follow their example and not do your jobs until you get paid higher wages! These are what labor unions are for – why let your ministers have their own labor union when you have none?

Responding to the prime minister’s rally speech on the Facebook page of The Straits Times, Freddie Seah asked: “Why is [the prime minister] always asking common Singaporeans to lower their expectations and lifestyle[s] but when his minister[s] ask for million-dollars salar[ies], he doesn't ask them to lower their expectation[s] and lifestyle[s]?

“Such double standards and insincerity,” Seah added.

Another commenter, Edward Ang, said: “Can’t help [but] feel....instead of answering directly [about the] cost of living...I feel [that] he is somehow indirectly saying [that] it [is] our own fault???”

Ang asked, “[does] anyone feel[s] the same [a]s me?”, to which, Serene Ong replied: “Yes Edward...he is saying we have ourselves to blame...we shouldn't be having all that aircon, [and] nice food...he's implying we should feel grateful to have a meal on the table ?”

An Ismail Tan then asked, “So, [the] entire point of [the] rally is [to tell us] not to overspend and [that] this rising costs of living is our fault?

“Well ok. An email would have suffice[d] actually. Why spend money to organize this rally then?” he asked.

On the Facebook page of Channel NewsAsia, a Vincent Khoo said: “Just bring down [the] price of everything [and the] pay of [the] Ministers, etc., [and] everything will [be] affordable.”

Ashraf Kyosuke suggested: “how about [implementing a] lowest basic salary for full-timers […] to pay […] workers S$2,000, for starters, due to all these [price] hikes?”

Another commenter, Arzool Rahman, scolded the prime minister: “You make your [government] rich but [make] half [of Singaporeans] suffer. I had gone and live[d through the] previous [governments] under [the first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew] and [the second prime minister Goh Chok Tong] too.

“This [government under the current prime minister] is the worst,” Rahman added.

Sahren Kamis added: “Enough bullshit! Put more opposition in Parliament!”

But Mohamed Razali takes the cake when he said: “Crazy Rich Asian [Prime Minister]. We are just watching their lavish salaries like a movie.

“Ops I can’t afford a movie ticket, so [expensive],” he remarked sarcastically.

In fact, the Singapore prime minister and his family are the truly Crazy Rich Asians. His mother, Kwa Geok Choo, and the wife of Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, comes from a long line of bankers, as part of one of Singapore's largest banks the OCBC Bank, and whose family intermarried with other families and produced among relations among them, Lim Kim San, one of Singapore’s first generation ministers.

Even Singapore's second deputy prime minister Goh Keng Swee and current deputy prime minister Teo Chee Hean, and a former minister Lim Boon Heng, also have blood relations with them. Singapore's former president and deputy prime minister, Tony Tan, is also related, and was formerly the chairman and CEO of the OCBC Bank as well.

And you know what’s even more crazy for this Crazy Rich Asian leading the kingdom of Singapore? This current Crazy Rich Prime Minister also appointed his own personal lawyer as the country’s lawyer, who has in turn, charged the prime minister’s nephew, Li Shengwu, with a crime. This would make for such a good Chinese period drama set in one of those Chinese dynasties.

Why go to the movies at all when Singapore already has actual Crazy Rich Asians ruling the country and running it to the ground, while earning Crazy Rich Salaries?

Read Next: How to Understand the Confusing Spellings of Romanized Chinese Names

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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