Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from CNA

Singapore is infamous for having the most expensive government in the world, with spending of S$53 million-a-year for the little 719 km² island – less than a tenth the size of Sydney. At during last week’s ruling party PAP convention, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called to raise taxes because “government expenditures are going up”.

However, the shameless dictator who often called his government “prudent” commands a not-so-prudent salary of S$2.2 million-a-year. Naturally, if we were to believe Lee Hsien Loong and overlook the numerous billions of surplus posted in each year’s Budget, there should be tax raise or spending cuts to address the increased government spending. If PM Lee is sincere, he and his esteemed gang of thieves in white we call “ministers” should take a massive paycut.

So why then did Lee Hsien Loong not cut his obscene salary?

Well the truth is he is a dictator. He draws the world’s highest salary for a politician and sits as the PM for as long as he wants to because he is a corrupted dictator. He puts himself above CPIB and the Election Department because he is a corrupted dictator. He sits as the Chairman of GIC and his wife as CEO of Temasek Holdings for as long as he wants to because he is a corrupted dictator. Singapore is a corrupted dictatorship and if all these sounds “defamatory”, congrats you have been indoctrinated by the dictatorship. Well, the point of this article is not to point out the obvious…let’s head back to the topic of tax increase.

If you are convinced a tax increase is the only way out for increased government spending, congratulations you have been brainwashed. Apologies I digressed again. The fact of the matter is that the problem is not one dimensional. A critical thinker would first tell Lee Hsien Loong to present the actual account before taking in any word he says. So if we are lucky, Lee Hsien Loong is not the compulsive liar I am convinced he is, we should start asking three questions: 1) what increased spending, 2) how do we reduce spending and 3) how do we increase taxes.

First let’s look at the first question: what increased spending?

6.9 million population
The chief culprit is the 6.9 million population policy. The Transport Minister said it himself: more crowd = more train frequency = more power. More government resources have to pay for increased power station capacity, water resources facilities, housing, roads, train network, hospitals, schools and you-name-it. To accommodate a 6.9 million population, spending on infrastructures need to increase by a further 23% if we simply make a corresponding calculation by comparing it to the current 5.6 million population. In conclusion: drop the 6.9 million policy, and spending does not need to increase by 23%.

The second question: how do we reduce spending?

Two Ministers for one Ministry, why?
If you think our ministers are overpaid, you will be in for a shock to know that they are not only expensive, they are sharing only a portion of the ministry workload. While I was compiling the list of ministerial salaries, I found a sheer inefficient system of the new PAP administration. Singapore does not need two Transport Ministers either (Khaw Boon Wan and Ng Chee Meng). Or two Education Ministers (Ng Chee Meng and Ong Ye Kung). Or two Trade Ministers (Lim Hng Kiang and S Isawaran). Or two Finance Ministers (Indranee Rajah and Heng Swee Keat). Or two National Development Minister (Lawrence Wong and Desmond Lee). Considering that each Minister is paid at least S$1.1 million-a-year, surely they should be capable of handling one ministry by  themselves, no?

National Reserves
Save for the rainy day, they say. The rainy day is here and we still can’t use our 5 decades-long savings. Why can’t we touch the national reserves? Hold on, why is everyone – except for the powerful husband and wife – not even allowed to know how much are there in the national reserves?

The last question: how do we increase taxes?

Increase salaries
The only reason why tax increase is so hugely unpopular is because most Singaporeans are poor and barely making ends meet. An engineer taking home S$3,000 a month is not even considered a middle class if he carries a 30-year mortgage or other debt. Most Singaporeans have low purchasing power and out-of-pocket cash, they can’t afford a GST increase or even a fare hike. If salaries do not increase, a tax increase will only make everyone’s life miserable.

Tax only the rich
There is a reasoning loophole that the ruling party likes to employ, that is to make you feel better by making others pay more. If a GST raise is implemented, in dollar-terms of course the rich will pay more. However, what good is it to feel better when the poor man still have to pay more albeit a fraction of the rich is paying? It is just like increasing the school fees of foreign students, local students may feel better they do not have to pay more but there is nothing beneficial to them either. It is all smoke and mirrors. The real solution is to tax the rich and the corporations. If low taxes is what Singapore only good for, then it is for the better so the dictatorship finally realise Singapore is actually nowhere as competitive or first-world as it claimed to be.

STR Editor
Alex Tan