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Cabinet Salaries and our wider talent pool

I refer to the report NZ PM: MPs looking in wrong place for money.

Understandably, we all get hot under the collar whenever the question of ministerial & civil service salary surfaces. And rightly so, especially when the money came with incompetence and non-accountability.

That said, with less than 100 MPs, high salaries or not, the question of getting enough competent, capable people to serve will not go away. PAP’s solution has proven to be less than water-tight given the want of leadership & foresight from the cabinet and the wanton excesses of civil elite caught with their pants down.

I offer 2 points for consideration.

One, the million $ salary may serve, ironically, to deny Singapore of people like PM Key who not only disdains those coming forward to serve society with an eye for monetary considerations but will likely not step forward if only not to cheapen himself by association. In this regard, the PAP’s model, seemingly practical and hard-nosed, may work only when the capable are already proven so but not as a tool to attract the unproven. Undisputably, it cheapens the nobility of public service.

Are there not many John Keys quietly going about their own in Singapore unwilling to come forth to serve?

Two, look at the military-heavy, civil service-linked cabinet that we have. It is no wonder the many “fires’ they created and are fighting. That testifies to their lack of perspectives, lack of diversity, lack of ‘domain knowledge’. Their 6.9 mil PWP is a disaster of ‘sub-prime’ leadership in the making – of their own making – all at citizens’ expense.

To illustrate, where there was Lim Kim San to educate LKY, ‘Do you want me to build houses or do you want me to be an employer of construction workers’, our local businessmen in cahoots with MNC honchos have been running rings around the cabinet for the last 2 decades, cheering for, if not actually demanding, a free flow of foreign talents/workers at the expense of citizens. Meantime, the cabinet happily bought in the businessmen’s metrics of GDP numbers achieved to mean success of those policies, missing the woods of governing for the trees of GDP growth – for its own sake.

Putting the 2 points together; the small base to build a cabinet of competence and our wider population pool, I think Singapore may need to think of creating a hybrid of our British-type parliamentary with the US executive systems. In short, we should debate and decide on the merits of changing our Constitution (?) to allow future government the option of nominating up to, say, 3 to 5 non-elected but highly-qualified people to serve in the cabinet.

Why deny ourselves of the services of someone like Mr Kwek Leng Beng to helm our Ministry of National Development? Compared to MBT or KBW, who would better serve our housing and commercial property needs? How about Mr Lawrence Lien to lead MCYS, with his domain knowledge of the community at large and across all income levels? Should they with their private background and expertise overswing their focus in one direction, there will be the rest of the elected cabinet to rein in or remind them of the political goals.
Singapore will be better for making available expertise from our wider pool to serve the public, the people.

Your thoughts?