Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going Beyond Salaries

I guess this post may be somewhat belated or will perhaps contribute no new insights now that the debate (at least the one in Parliament) over how much Singapore's political office-holders should be paid is over. However, reading Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong's comments in his 2012 Chinese New Year message on what the government will do to encourage Singaporeans to have more children, I cannot help but notice the disparity in the reasoning he used for this issue and the reasoning he used for the political office-holders salaries review.

Specifically, in his 2012 Chinese New Year message, the PM pointed out that in order to encourage Singaporeans to have more children, the "critical factor is not more financial incentives, but creating the supportive social climate and attitudes that will encourage couples to have more children".

Now, perhaps they are two distinctly separate issues but in my opinion, what the PM said above about what is needed to encourage Singaporeans have more children is perhaps also applicable to the issue of how much local political office-holders should be paid.

As many of you all would be aware, the government's reasoning of why political office-holders need to be paid competitive (i.e. high) salaries is premised on how these salaries need to be attractive enough to attract competent individuals to enter into politics and subsequently take up political office. However, as others and I (in an earlier post) have pointed out, while monetary remuneration can be a factor in individuals' consideration about whether to enter into politics, it is perhaps not the only or most important factor.

Indeed, beyond depending solely on offering competitive salaries, it is perhaps also necessary that, for example, initiatives be put in place to inculcate a greater sense of public spirit in people so as to encourage more people to enter into politics, regardless of the salary level.

Admittedly, these initiatives may require more effort, take longer to bear fruit and the results more uncertain. But I suppose such initiatives will be much better for Singapore in the long-term and generate much less antipathy.

In the end, while it is true that men cannot live without bread, men too do not and should not live only for bread. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In order to encourage Singaporeans to take up political leadership positions, the "critical factor is not just financial incentives and rewards, but creating or cultivating the supportive non-biased social cohesion and nation's interst (one of it should be nation before self) climate and attitudes that will encourage Singaporeans / community to have right sense of public sense when they feel ready to fill up the posts.
Does it satisfy you?

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