Photo of Ng Chee Meng from straitstimes

Despite it’s first world facade and numerous self-claims of incorruptibility, Singapore’s leadership remained stuck in a cronyism deadlock. The current administration is unable to renew itself due to increasing public disapproval, leading to able talents from the private sector swerving away from politics.

Considering that political salaries in Singapore is the world’s highest with a MP raking in S$16,000 a month (comfortably wihin the top 10 percentile income), it is hence not a question if the remuneration is not attractive. Rather, the remuneration has become too attractive for its own good, resulting in greedy inept men signing up and the incumbents refusing to step down.

63-year-old MP Charles Chong is a classic example. Instead of handing over power to a younger generation, the elderly MP suffering from a critical liver illness requiring a transplant chose to safeguard his seat anyway. Apparently, the money is too much of a lure. His town council of course can survive 8 weeks without a MP.

The damage of seat warmers refusing to resign is further amplified at the ministerial level. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan is 64 years old, and despite having helmed several ministries, his current Transport portfolio has been a wreckage. A high profile expose of the SMRT trains return to China cover up did not end his career when it should, the minister sacrificed his Land Transport Authority’s CEO to appease the public. Under Khaw Boon Wan, the Transport Ministry made Singaporean taxpayers pick up the highest tab ever for transport with the S $1.2 billion bailout of SMRT.

Then there is the notorious Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, offending China resulting in the detention of SAF armoured vehicles but still get to keep his job.

Over in the health ministry, there is Minister Gan Kim Yong who played disappearance act during the tubercuolous, Hepatitis C and Zika virus outbreak.

Incompetent seat warmers aside, inexperience also plagues the Singapore leadership resulting in disastrous policy failures. Two S $1.1 million minister profiles in the Ministry of Education were created last year to accommodate for the inexperience of a former chief of defence officer and a civil servant yes-man. The result? Two schoolboy suicides due to exam stress.

Sitting at the top of the pyramid of this serious fat cat syndrome is Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The dictator inherited his premiership from his father through undemocratic election rules, but his worst trait is cronyisn. 4 uniformed officers are appointed Ministers and the coming Presidential Election has the Constitution rewritten to accommodate a selected yes-man of his own. His salary? 4 times the United States President at S $2.2 million a year.

According to the ruling party, exorbitant political salaries were created to deter corruption and attract talents. 10 years has since passed since the salaries were first jacked up, and the present achieves none of that. The Singapore government today is thoroughly corrupted, albeit legally, and nobody is interested in joining politics. There is however no hope to bringing political salaries back to reality, as this seriously conflicts with their interests.

STR Editor