By Asha Popatlal
SINGAPORE: Opposition MP Low Thia Khiang questioned the need for such high salaries for ministers and top civil servants to prevent corruption.
He said Singapore ranked below Finland, Denmark and Switzerland, in a UN report on how corrupt a country is, but these countries pay their top civil servants less than Singapore.
This had Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on his feet and challenging his statements.
“Does he realise that Singapore’s GDP is only one-third of its external trade? Our external trade is 3 1/2 times that of our GDP, higher than Hong Kong. And if this economy ever falters, that’s the end of Singapore and its First World status. Denmark, Switzerland and Finland are part of Europe. You can fail and you’re still caught in the European situation. If you fail here, you go back to a Southeast Asian situation. Just look around you,” said MM Lee.
“So is the Minister Mentor saying that without paying such a high salary, we are bound to fail? And even if we pay top earners’ salary, can the present government bring Singapore up to superpower (status), as what he has mentioned for those in Denmark?” challenged Mr Low, MP for Hougang.
“I am putting a simple question and asking for his clarification. He has compared Singapore as if it were Denmark, Finland or Switzerland. Their systems and governments never produced the kind of transformation that we have, and their system and government have a broader base and can afford a mediocre government,” said the Minister Mentor. – CNA/ls