Lee Kuan Yew: On Ministers’ Salaries

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[LKY ON MINISTERS’ SALARIES (1980’s)]

1) “In Singapore, [wealth and power] are two different things. And we should keep them as two different entities.”
— LKY, National Day Rally 1984

2) “Recently, we persuaded a graduate, who is a journalist, to be a candidate for the next elections. He went through a stretch of soul-searching. He decided to take up the responsibility.

He explained it this way: In Malaysia, Dr Mahathir [warned] of dangers of using vast sums of money to buy voters. To be elected is the way to power and to wealth. This journalist found [that] in Singapore no one was fighting to be elected either into the Central Executive Committee of the PAP or into Parliament. There was no money to be made. . .no dishonest or opportunistic or selfish and greedy types [should] ever get into positions of powers.”
— Lee Kuan Yew (16 August 1984 / PDF Download)

[LKY ON MINISTERS’ SALARIES (1990’s)]

3) “It is possible that politically and socially uncommitted people from the higher management and professional brackets will be attracted to the idea of public office for this higher pay. . .[but] if this salary formula can draw out higher quality men into politics, whatever their motivations, I say, let us have them.”
— Lee Kuan Yew (1 November 1994)

4) “Ministers who deal with billions of dollars cannot be paid low salaries without risking a system malfunction. Low salaries will not attract able men who are or can be successful in their professions or business. Low salaries will draw in the hypocrites who sweet talk their way into power in the name of public services, but once in charge will show their true colour, and ruin the country.”
— Lee Kuan Yew (19 July 1996)

5) “Equality is an aspiration: it is not reality, it is not practical.”
— Lee Kuan Yew (19 August 2009)

[PERSPECTIVES ON SG MINISTERS’ SALARIES]

6) Mr Jeyaretnam: “The Prime Minister more than once said, “Let’s be honest with ourselves.” Well, let us be honest. What is the Prime Minister saying? Is he saying that his present Cabinet Ministers or the new recruits into his Party would not have come in unless they were promised huge sums of money by way of high salaries? . . . If they are only interested in the money, there is no integrity.”
1985 Budget Debate (via Roy Ngerng)

7) “How much money does it take to keep a Singapore government minister happy? The government says a million dollars is not enough.
— NYT (2007)

8) “The broader issue is that politics is a public service. Other corruption-free countries such as Denmark and New Zealand do not need to pay their ministers astronomical salaries to keep them clean.”
— Tan Jee Say, former senior civil servant and fund manager (2011)

9) “Given that ministers get to decide on their salaries, aren’t we in essence giving them a blank check in the name of preventing corruption?”
— Aaron Chew (2011)

* ‘Blank Check’ Definition: An unlimited freedom of action.

10) “DPM [Teo Chee Hean] talked of the ethos of political service. How this can be reconciled with paying themselves obscenely high salaries in order to serve the people? Is this service to the people or self-serving?
— Singapore Recalcitrant (11 March 2015)

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