Ministers and Spouses

PAP_Spouses
Standard

As netizens say: “Marry-tocracy!”

Thanks to some industrious netizens for help with this list. Links below for verification.

PAP_Spouses_2015

// UPDATE (8 Sept 2015):

Thanks to a reader for submitting the following tip (Ng Chee Khern and spouse). Will move this to ‘other relatives‘ post soon (since Ng Chee Khern technically isn’t a minister).

elaineng_nlb

Perm-Sec (Defence Development) Ng Chee Khern’s wife is Elaine Ng (nee Neo Poh Choo). This is mentioned in Page 16 of this PDF document and in The Straits Times (2009).

Elaine Ng started out in the public service as a research analyst in the Defence Ministry. She became the CEO of the National Library Board (NLB) in 2011.

In 2014, she admitted she “did not expect the matter to blow up so much” (re: the NLB’s banning of three gay penguin children’s books).

As of July 2015, the police are investigating possible wrongdoings in relation to procurement at the NLB after the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) flagged lapses in its annual report. NLB spent about S$7.3 million in FY2012/13 to acquire and maintain its e-resources collection.

+ + +

FIRST: MR. NGIAM TONG DOW on MINISTERS’ SPOUSES

ngiam

“Even if he wants to [disagree with LHL on ministers’ salaries], his wife will stop him. When the salary is so high, which minister dares to leave?”

— Ngiam Tong Dow (2013)

LEFT SIDE

LeeHsienLoong

1. PM Lee Hsien Loong married Ho Ching in 1985. Ho Ching’s dealmaking ambitions span the globe; she started her career as an Engineer with the Ministry of Defence of Singapore in 1976.

2. Lee Hsien Yang is the brother of Lee Hsien Loong. Lee Hsien Yang is married to Lim Suet Fern. Ms. Lim is Singapore’s Managing Partner for Morgan Lewis law firm.

3. Tharman Shanmugaratnam is married to lawyer Jane Yumiko Ittogi. Ms. Ittogi is a partner at Shook Lin & Bok and board chairman of the Singapore Art Museum.

TeoCheeHean_Pay

4. Teo Chee Hean is married to Chew Poh Yim. A 2008 press release stated that Chew Poh Yim was NTUC FairPrice’s Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications and General Manager of NTUC FairPrice Foundation. Chew Poh Yim is a SingHealth board trustee (2009, 2013; current).

5. Goh Chok Tong is married to Tan Choo Leng, who was a former patron of the National Kidney Foundation.

6. Ong Ye Kung (Sembawang GRC candidate; 2015) is married to Diana Kuik Sin Leng. Mr. Ong was a former top civil servant and Principal Private Secretary to PM Lee Hsien Loong.

dbss_shoddy

Gripes over burst bathroom water pipes in DBSS flats at Centrale 8 (by Sim Lian). Source: ST

Ong’s wife, Diana Kuik Sin Leng, is the executive director of Sim Lian (owned by the Kuik family). Sim Lian has undertaken over S$2 billion worth of contracts, including public projects for the Housing Development Board (HDB), DBSS flats, and other government projects.

It is interesting to note that the Government did not consider the potential conflict of interests when it invited a Sim Lian board director to also sit on the board of HDB.

7. Sim Ann (MP, Minister of State, former assistant director at Ministry of Health and Ministry of Home Affairs, and former director of National Population Secretariat) is married to Dr. Mok Ying Jang, Group Director of Corp Services at Health Sciences Authority (a statutory board of the Singapore Ministry of Health).

PM Lee Hsien Loong has known Sim Ann’s mother for 30 years.

A forum post has some details on Sim Ann’s grandfather being executed in the People’s Republic of China for treason. Will update this section if there’s more info on this in future.

The archive is still available in the China national archive.

Now Sim Ann, his granddaughter, is selling out Singaporeans — it should not be a surprise as it seems treason runs in their family blood line.

Sim Ann’s sister is Sim Min, 34, who was awarded a Monetary Authority of Singapore scholarship. Her brother Sim Kai, 31, is also a President’s Scholar.

Daughter of executed Prisoner PRC ID number (XD4429372J) – Choo Lian Liang
Father – Sim Hock Kee

This is a family of nation betrayers.

Source: Helium

8. Former MP Dr. Seet Ai Mee was married to Dr. Seet Lip Chai for almost 30 years. Dr. Seet Lip Chai was the former chief medical officer of the Singapore Armed Forces Medical Corps.

RIGHT SIDE

NgEngHen

9. Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence, is married to Prof. Ivy Lim Swee Lian, CEO of Singhealth.

* Reader Tip: Something interesting about Ng Eng Hen. He joined PAP in 2001. In 2002, he was appointed as minister of state for 2 ministries. In 2004, he was promoted to full minister. That was also the year his wife, Ivy Lim, was promoted to CEO of KKH.

10. Grace Fu is married to technopreneur Ivan Lee Boon Hong.

11. Heng Swee Keat is married to Chang Hwee Nee. Mr. Heng was Principal Private Secretary to SM Lee Kuan Yew from 1997 to 2000, a Director of SingTel Optus, and a Director of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. from July 4, 2003 to July 30, 2010. Ms. Chang, a President Scholar, is the former Deputy Secretary (Policy) of Ministry of Education and a member of various public institutions and organisations such as A*STAR Board.

12. Josephine Teo née Yeo Li Min is married to Teo Eng Cheong, former AVA board member and CEO of International Enterprise Singapore (a government agency).

13. Tin Pei Ling is married to Ng How Yue. Mr. Ng was former Principal Private Secretary to PM Lee Hsien Loong. Tin Pei Ling was a former senior associate at Ernst & Young.

14. Desmond Choo is married to civil servant Pamela Lee. In a 2012 PAP article, Desmond Choo mentions that Pamela Lee was in the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

This 2013 document lists Pamela Lee as the “Deputy Director” of the MOM (Workplace Policy and Strategy  Division).

PamelaLee_PSC

“Pamela Lee HuiYing,” PSC Scholar (Overseas Merit Scholarship; Cambridge University / Economics). Source: Data.gov.sg

This document says that “Pamela Lee HuiYing” was a PSC Scholar (2002), who was awarded an Overseas Merit Scholarship to Cambridge University to study Economics. This matches with Pamela Lee’s LinkedIn Profile (link and screenshot). The LinkedIn profile states that Pamela Lee has been Deputy Director of the MOM since 2011, and that she is an alumnus of Raffles Girls’ and Hwa Chong Junior College.

* TO BE VERIFIED: That this “Pamela Lee” is the spouse of Desmond Choo. Personally, I’m 90% sure it is the right Pamela Lee.

15. Dr. Aline Wong is married to Prof. John Wong. Dr. Aline Wong was elected Member of Parliament at four successive General Elections. Photo of the Wong’s from Singapore Tatler.

16. Hri Kumar Nair is married to Dilys Boey. Dilys Boey was Tin Pei Ling’s former boss at Ernst & Young.

Ministers’ Wives: Rich or Corrupt?

Header_MinistersWives
Standard

Thanks to various readers/netizens for contributing to this post.

Links for verification and additional info below.

Ministers_Wives

1. MINISTER’S WIVES in GIRL GUIDES ASSOCIATION

a) Teo Chee Hean’s wife is Chew Poh Yim (“Mrs. Teo Poh Yim”). Chew Poh Yim was the 10th President of Girl Guides in Singapore.

girlguides

Girl Guides newsletter (2007). Source: GirlGuides.org.sg

b) Joy Balakrishnan, wife of Vivian Balakrishnan, is the 11th President of Singapore Girl Guides Association. She is a teacher turned housewife.

In 2015, Vivian Balakrishnan made the following comment (paraphrased):

Balakrishnan_Quote

“Only Rich or Corrupt people work for free.”

c) Mrs. Christine Dhanabalan, wife of former cabinet minister S. Dhanabalan, received an Honorary Membership to Girl Guides Association from Mrs. Joy Balakrishnan.

sg_girlguides

11th Girl Guides Singapore (GGS) president Joy Balakrishnan (in sleeveless white top), at the World Thinking Day 2015 event held at Methodist Girls’ School. Source: AsiaOne

d) According to AsiaOne and GirlGuides.org.sg, Ms Chang Hwee Nee took over from 11th President, Mrs. Joy Balakrishnan, whose term of office ended on 30 May 2015. Chang Hwee Nee is the wife of Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

e) The patron of Girl Guides (in Singapore) has always been the First Lady (wife of the President).

A CAS UK PDF document defines a patron’s role as follows:

“Patrons” generally refers to well known or illustrious individuals who lend their name and support to an organisation.

On 12 November 2011, Mrs S R Nathan, former Patron of Girl Guides Singapore (GGS), received the Asia Pacific Region (APR) Appreciation Award. Mrs Nathan was also presented with the Long Service Award for her 12 years of dedication and invaluable support to the Girl Guiding movement.

Girl Guides Singapore is registered as a Charity with the National Council of Social Services (NCSS).

Girlguiding is a charitable organisation and adult leaders are not paid for their time.

2. MINISTER’S WIVES in BREADLINE GROUP

breadlinegroup

Breadline Patrons (Executive Committee Report: 2014/2015).

a) Breadline is run by Richard Lim, with the minimum of overheads – eg no office. Richard dedicates many hours to his work on a voluntary basis.

From the organisation’s website:

The Breadline Group is a community service comprising of volunteers. It was formed because we share a concern for the welfare of the old and needy in Singapore, and want to channel our efforts towards helping them.

b) Patrons are mentioned as Mrs. Jek Yuen Thong, Mrs. S. Dhanabalan, Dr. Sheryn Mah Bow Tan, and Dr. Seetha Shanmugam.

c) Jek Yuen Thong was the former Minister for Labour and Minister for Culture. He was part of the People’s Action Party’s Old Guard of politicians.

d) Christine Tan Khoon Hiap is the wife of former cabinet minister S. Dhanabalan.

e) Dr. Seetha Shanmugam, a Berkeley-educated, Chicago-trained clinical psychologist (not a foreign talent), is the wife of Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam.

Minister K. Shanmugam was previously married to Jothie Rajah, the daughter of K. S. Rajah, former Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Singapore.

Shanmugam’s marriage to Dr Jothie Rajah failed and they divorced after 15 years, due to “mutual incompatibility.” In 2012, Dr Jothie Rajah wrote Authoritarian Rule Of Law, a critical text which alleges that the rule of law is a subjugating rather than liberalising force in Singapore. Shanmugam said he had not read the book.

In 2012, Shanmugam sent a lawyer’s letter to blogger Alex Au to remove “defamotary comments” with regard to an alleged affair with MP Foo Mee Har. As yet, no lawyer’s letter has been sent to U.S.-based lawyer Gopalan Nair, whose blog post contains a detailed comment on Shanmugam’s “affair with a Chinese colleague” while working in Allen and Gledhill law firm (where Shanmugam was formerly a senior partner).

In 2015, Shanmugam wanted to make a police report over an “inaccurate and seditious” Facebook post.

f) Sheryn Mah, wife of Mah Bow Tan, sits on the board of directors of Compassion Fund and is the president of Mainly I Love Kids (MILK), a non-profit charity organisation providing aid to disadvantaged children.

3. MINISTERS’ WIVES re: NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION (NKF)

In 2005, Tan Choo Leng (Mrs. Goh Chok Tong) stepped down as the patron of NKF after the T T Durai corruption scandal. She is remembered for describing a S$600,000 annual salary as “peanuts.”

Mrs. Goh Chok Tong had previously supported Durai.

Ms. Ho Ching, the CEO of Temasek Holdings, asked for continued support for the NKF after the scandal broke. On the issue of the CEO’s pay, she said:

“I would not begrudge Mr Durai a proper and well-earned compensation and bonus.”

Lee Kuan Yew: On Ministers’ Salaries

sgministers_salaries
Standard

[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)

Excerpts from “Meritocracy and Elitism”

Standard

Excerpts from “Meritocracy and Elitism in a Global City: Ideological Shifts in Singapore”

by Kenneth Paul Tan (2008)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Academia.edu

* * *

Definitions:

1. Meritocracy: Government or the holding of power by people selected on the basis of their ability.

2. Elitism: The advocacy or existence of an elite as a dominating element in a system or society.

Extracts from Article:

1) In practice, meritocracy is often transformed into an ideology of inequality and elitism.

2) Robert Klitgaard (1986: 1) discusses how [meritocracy] gets co-opted by the winners, who then become an elitist, “self-conscious, exploitative ruling minority” bent on perpetuating their power and prestige.

3) (cont.) Elitism sets in when the elite class develops an exaggerated “in-group” sense of superiority, a dismissive attitude toward the abilities of those who are excluded from this in-group, a heroic sense of responsibility for the well-being of what the in-group “laments” as the “foolish” and “dangerous” masses, and a repertoire of self-congratulatory public gestures to maintain what is sometimes merely a delusion of superiority.

4) Conspicuously wide income and wealth gaps, instead of serving as an incentive, can breed a culture of resentment [and] disengagement among the system’s losers.

5) Not only has the term “meritocracy” become enshrined and celebrated as a dominant cultural value in Singapore, it has also come to serve as a complex of ideological resources for justifying authoritarian government and its pro-capitalist orientations.

6) Through its long incumbency, the PAP has secured important structural and tactical advantages such as effective control of the mass media, civil service, and para-political grassroots networks. . .a meritocratic electoral process would need to be more adequately competitive to provide an incentive for the “best” people (regardless of social background, ideological inclination, and party affiliation) to come forward and serve as political leaders.

7) Although relentlessly elitist in its recruitment of parliamentary candidates where qualifications and achievements are concerned, the PAP has maintained that its candidates come from all walks of life.

8) To legitimize its choices, meritocracy must demonstrate not only that the “best” are chosen, but also that the “best” can be drawn from any social background.

9) A meritocracy that defines merit almost exclusively in terms of educational and professional qualifications and commercial success has made the traditional PAP-controlled grassroots sector seem much less relevant and effective in contemporary public life.

10) James Cotton (1993: 10–11) observes that the “[PAP] party has … become a shell, a convenient electoral machine for maintaining in office an elite which is ultimately self-selected, self-promoted and self-defined.

11) In a study of the structure of government-linked companies (GLCs) in the early 1990s, Werner Vennewald (1994) observed a high concentration of control in the hands of a small number of permanent secretaries, the powerful civil service chiefs who tend to hold multiple and interconnected directorships of various public-sector bodies and committees. . .Ross Worthington (2003) [concludes] that state-society relations in Singapore are “elitist and oligarchic” with community organizations, trade unions, and industry associations negligibly represented in GLCs.

12) Insisting that PAP government decisions are the best possible ones generates a false sense of security and a general feeling that there is no need to keep a watchful eye on the daily business of government. Such conditions open the way to serious mistakes and corrupt practices in the future.

13) The PAP government is popularly perceived, even by its many admirers, as arrogant, insensitive, compassionless, and convinced of its own superiority, what Ezra Vogel (1989: 1053) calls a “macho-meritocracy.” Vogel also observes how meritocracy emits an “aura of special awe for the top leaders … [which] provides a basis for discrediting less meritocratic opposition almost regardless of the content of its arguments.”

14) As the long-time political winners, the PAP has been able to define merit in Singapore’s politics [and] influence strongly the people’s understanding of who deserves to win. Through higher monetary deposit requirements and increasingly stringent qualifying criteria for various elected positions in government, the PAP has also been able to influence the question of who can afford and qualify to stand for elections.

15) Veteran journalist Seah Chiang Nee (2006) observes how only “a few newer MPs are social workers or people with good community links, but compassion, charity and humility generally rank low in priority in a candidate’s qualities.”

16) The idea that money will draw the “best” people into politics and give them fewer reasons to be corrupt ignores the possibility of people going into politics for the “wrong” reasons: the lure of personal prestige and monetary gain can produce a dangerously intelligent and self-interested class of political elites who will readily compromise the national interest to satisfy their own needs and who will have the unchecked power to do this indefinitely.

17) Through encounters with alternative political websites, the disadvantaged and the disenchanted learn to articulate their condition in ways that the official discourse of meritocracy has excluded.

18) As the economic and political elite are rewarded (or are rewarding themselves) with larger prizes, a vast and visible inequality of outcomes will replace the incentive effect with a sense of resentment [among] those who perceive themselves as systematically disadvantaged.

19) As public-sector careers become more lucrative, civil service and ministers’ salaries will [turn] into a preoccupation with staying in power mainly for the money and achieving this through image politics, vote-buying, and so on.

Source: “Meritocracy and Elitism in a Global City: Ideological Shifts in Singapore,” by Kenneth Paul Tan (2008)

PDF Download: Academia.edu

* * *

kennethpaultan

KENNETH PAUL TAN is Vice Dean (Academic Affairs) and Associate Professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, where he has taught since 2007. His publications include journal articles and book chapters on democracy, civil society, media and multiculturalism.

Kenneth Online: Facebook | Academia.edu | LKYSPP | Interview