Yes! Yes! And absolutely Yes! $$$$$$$$$$$$
From a financial point of view, we can easily afford it. Their multi-million dollar salaries are a drop in the bucket compared to the huge economy of Singapore.
We could even afford to pay them millions more. It’s not going to break the bank.
But herein lies the problem. As a country, we have swallowed, hook, line and stinker, the story that:
- million-dollar salaries = one in a million ministers.
It’s the same fallacy that many fancy designer labels peddle. The bags, clothes and shoes in luxury boutiques may look more like they belong in a clown house than on the runway but rich fools queue up to buy precisely because they are ridiculously expensive.
The same goes for our ministers. Their multi-million salaries are both their cross to bear and the shield that spares.
Since we pay them so much, the perverse logic follows that ministers must be superhuman deities deserving of deference (and free parking) in some way, mistakes notwithstanding.
And this, I think, is what Goh Chok Tong was getting. In Singapore, we measure a person’s worth by their the size of their peanut packet. It’s our undeniably objective stamp of quality.
And we the people, stingy jealous bastards though we may be, believe entirely in this creed.
It’s just that we are in a fancy designer boutique, lusting after some clown clothes (simply because of the eye-watering price tag) while simultaneously trying to haggle a discount as if we were at the pasar malam.
- We want Dolce & Gabbana but want to pay for Dolce & Kiam Kana.
Until that narrative changes, we are going to continue looking like clowns.