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Singapore

Singapore ministers’ pay to stay frozen as public chides politicians’ million-dollar salaries

The government has argued the huge salaries are necessary to attract top-calibre talent and prevent the corruption that afflicts other Asian countries

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 8:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 8:48pm

Singapore government ministers were told on Thursday their salaries will stay frozen despite a recommendation for an increase, but there was little sympathy in the city state for the world’s best paid politicians.

Ministerial salaries in the financial hub are the highest on Earth, with an entry-level minister paid Sg$1.1 million (US$830,000) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earning an eye-watering Sg$2.2 million.

The government has argued the huge pay packets are necessary to attract top-calibre talent and prevent the corruption that afflicts other Asian countries.

But the issue has long attracted public anger, and the government responded to criticism by slashing salaries after a 2012 review.

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A nine-member committee last year carried out the first review of ministers’ salaries since the reductions, and recommended an increase of nine per cent.

But Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced in parliament there would be no raise, in response to questions from MPs about the review.

“The government has decided not to make any changes, and to maintain the current salary structure and level,” he said.

But far from being welcomed, the announcement only served to remind many Singaporeans of the sky-high compensation awarded to their public servants.

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“No increase? How about deduction instead?” commented Facebook user Kevin Ng.

Another user said: “Putting it bluntly, we do not need you to tell us why no increase, there should not be any increase at all, being the highest paid cabinet.”

Lee’s salary is the highest of any elected head of government in the world. The US presidential salary is US$400,000 but billionaire Donald Trump has pledged to donate it.