No stress ministers to take pay cut
Publication: The New Paper, p 4-5
Date: 23 May 2011
Headline: No stress asking ministers to take pay cut
ON THE COMMITTEE
Chairman, Changi General Hospital, and chairman,
National Kidney Foundation
John De Payva
President, National Trades Union Congress
Fang Ai Lian
Chairman, Charity Council, and chairman, Methodist
Girls' School Board of Management
Stephen Lee Ching Yen
President, Singapore National Employers Federation
Po'ad bin Shaik Abu Bakar Mattar
Member, Council of PresidentialAdvisers, and
member, Public Service Commission
Founder and chairman, Breadtalk Group Ltd,
vice-president, Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan, and
chairman, Xinmin Secondary School Advisory
Managing partner, Allen & Gledhill LLP, and
chairman, Maritimeand Port Authority
Wong Ngit Liong
Chairman, National University of Singapore Board of
Trustees, and chairman & CEO, Venture Corporation
'ww r g e Quek
take pay cut
REPORT: ELYSA CHEN
EDEALS in dough.
And, as the founder and chairman of BreadTallc
Group, Mr George Quek decides on the salaries
of 6,000 employees,from bakers to top management of
the multinationalfood and beverage company.
Now, he has been tasked to help decide the pay of
Mr Quek is one of eight independent members on
the committee to review the salaries of the President,
Prime Minister and political appointment holders.
The committee, announced by Prime Minister Lee
Hsien bong, will be chaired by Mr Gerard Ee, chairman of Changi General Hospital and chairman of National Kidney Foundation.
It also includes members in the private sector, labour movement and social sector. (Seereport above.)
Indicating that the Government was aware of the
unhappiness over high ministerial pay, PM Lee announced the review of ministerial salaries after he and
his new Cabinet were sworn in at the Istana on Saturday.
Ministers' pay is currently pegged to two-thirds the
median income of the top eight earners in six professions, including bankers and lawyers. An entry-grade
minister's annual salary was $1.57 million in 2009, and
the Prime Minister's salarythat year was $3.04 million:
PM Lee said: "We will always need committed and
capableministers.Politicsis not ajob or a career promotion. It is a calling to serve the larger good of Singapore."
Announcing the ministerial pay review committee,
he added: "I know that Singaporeans have genuine
concerns over the present salaries."
Speakingto The New Paper yesterday, Mr Quek said
that he would not feel stressed if he were to ask the
ministers to take a pay cut
Spealangin Mandarin, he said: "I'm an independent
individual. I will voice my opinions if they're reasonable.
"It's my first time being asked to take on such a
responsibility. I was surprised and honoured that I have
"As a Singaporean who loves my country, my ultimate goal is to help...bring in talented leaders who can
contributeto the country."
He added that since PM Lee has made it clear that
he is willing to review the ministers' salaries,it indicates
that he is looking at a new model and a new approach.
Mr Quekwas initially hesitant to discuss the criteria
that the committee would be using to evaluate the
.ministers1performanceand their salaries.
But he eventually said that some benchmarks he
would be using would be the minister's leadership
experience, how well they have trained future leaders,
and how they have taken Singapore's brand overseas.
"Acountry and a company are quite similar. Some
of the questions I will ask are: Did you value-add?Did
you exceed the expectationsand goals that you set?
"Didyou take Singaporeto a higher level of competitiveness? Did you increase the happiness and satisfaction of the citizens? Did you create a better environment in Singaporeto live in?"
While he acknowledges that there is ground sentiment for ministers to take on their appointments so
they can serve the people, Mr Quekfeels that the willingness of the minister to serve is just one key performance
"The heart is just one KPI. My company has branches in 13 different countries, but it's different in each
"In comparison to other countries, the Singapore
Government's performance has been stellar.And I believe that good performance deserves good salary."
Political observers feel that those selected to sit on
the committee represent a good cross-section of the
Dr Reuben Wong, who teaches political science in
the National University of Singapore, felt that selecting
people with links to charitable organisations struck a
He said: "Charitableorganisationsserve the people,
and politics does somethinglike that."
The committeemembers from the charity sector are
Mr Ee and Mrs Fang Ai Lian, the chairman of the
Charity Council and the chairman of the Methodist
Girls' SchoolBoard of Management.
But Singapore Management University law lecturer
Eugene Tan said: "While PM has said that becoming a
minister is a calling,it's not a priesthood."
Still, he felt that having committee members ftom
the charity sector was a good choice, as some of them
have previously dealt with the issue of how much CEOs
of charities should be paid.
He said: "They are familiar with professionals and
understand what it takes to attract and retain professionaltalent."
Dr Wong said it would have been better if a retired
opposition Member of Parliament and a person from a
human rights group could have been included too.
He said: "I feel that having former MPs like Chiam
See Tong and Tan Cheng Bock or an NMP like Braema
Mathi would be good, as they would know what is
involved in the work of ministers and Members of
Source: The New Paper O Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.