Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Disoriented Senior Minister

SM Goh Chok Tong had the dubious distinction of introducing the astronomical salaries for ministers when he was the prime minister. There was a big hue and cry over this unprincipled draw on the taxpayers' money. But true to his uncompromising character the obnoxious proposal was pushed through by PM Goh and this is now a permanent feature of the ministerial pay. This is a peeved subject which has never failed to incense the public from time to time whenever there was an occasion to highlight it as in a general election. As expected, this had no compunctious effect on the Prime Minister and his ministers blithely continue to wallow in their wealth at the taxpayers' expense.

Describing the issue of ministerial salaries as the opposition's " favcurite flogging horse", the comical SM Goh said that the "majority" of the population were not concerned about it. Does he really seriously believe in his own conjecture? It does not mean that when they remain silent the people are not concerned about it. Has SM Goh ever heard of the saying: Dare to be angry but dare not speak out (敢怒而不敢言). Because of the government high-handed manner in dismissing any dissent to the ministerial salaries, the people are resigned not to expect any concession from the government on the issue. So even if they are angry about it, they prefer to remain silent until such time when their pent-up anger bursts out.

SM Goh can say that this subject had been debated in Parliament but does he honestly believe that with the PAP dominance any useful outcome will come out of these parliamentary debates? The two opposition MPs and one NCMP were easily overwhelmed by the sheer force of the PAP MPs. Any arguments the three opposition MPs were able to put through were like voices in the wilderness. This incidentally could be one of the issues that acts as a catalyst for the electors to want to see more opposition MPs being voted into Parliament to provide more opposition voices as a check and balance to the PAP government. So on the surface SM Goh may find the "majority" of the population were not concerned about the issue but may discover to his chagrin that this could be just an illusion.

On his shabby treatment of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) scholar candidate Tan Jee Say, SM Goh could have shown more civility. There was no justification for him and MM Lee to denigrate Tan on his civil service credentials especially when it was proved that the attacks were all misconceived. SM Goh was the one who emphasised on a clean and fair campaign at the outset of the hustings but then he could not resist a smear campaign against Tan. There is a Chinese saying: One can row a boat in the stomach of a prime minister (宰相肚内可撑船). It really means one should be magnanimous and SM Goh can take a lesson from it.


Trebuchet said...

Here's a good lesson too.

lorongm said...


Interesting attachment (though a little bit off topic, as it was a different PM and different era). How did you get that document?

Singapore Recalcitrant said...

Sorry, there is no document or attachment.

lorongm said...

The documenet linked by Trebuchet was a pdf document parliamentary statement in circa 1971 by LKY called "MINISTERIAL STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER REGARDING MINISTERS’ SALARIES AND ALLOWANCES FOR M.P.’S".

Singapore Recalcitrant said...

Thanks for your information. It has completely slipped my mind.

lorongm said...

Dear Mr Yoong

Would love to read your learned analysis and views about the stepping down of MM, SM, DPM WKS, Mins MBT/RL.

Miss reading your articles! Please write more!

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