Ministers should accept pay sacrifice as job is 'form of NS': Blackbox survey

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at the National Day Parade on 9 August, 2018. (PHOTO: Stefanus Ian/Yahoo News Singapore)

Nearly seven in ten Singaporeans (67 per cent) feel that ministers should be “willing to make a sacrifice” and accept a lower pay than what they may earn in the private sector as their job is a “form of national service”, a recent Blackbox Research survey showed.

Nearly two in five, or 36 per cent, also disagreed that an important criterion for ministers should be “the likelihood that they would earn a high salary if they were working in the private sector” while 27 per cent agreed with the statement and 37 per cent expressed neutral views, according to the survey conducted between 17 and 24 August.

Last month, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong sparked a heated debate on ministerial salary after a dialogue he had with South East District residents. During the dialogue, he said that ministers are not paid enough and also spoke about the difficulties in attracting top talent to join the government.

He had said, “You are going to end up with very very mediocre people, who can’t even earn a million dollars outside to be our minister. Think about that. Is it good for you, or is it worse for us in the end?”

Currently, the annual salary of an MR4 grade (entry level) minister stands at $1.1 million, while the Prime Minister earns $2.2 million. This is based on the assumption of an Annual Variable Component of one month, good individual performance and the national bonus indicators being met.

(INFOGRAPHIC: Blackbox Research)

About 70 per cent felt that it is wrong to consider people who earn high salaries as better than others while 42 per cent of the respondents disagreed that high salaries that are a deterrence to corruption.

ESM Goh’s comments have demonstrated how elitist Singapore has become in recent years, according to 56 per cent of the respondents. When surveyed about people of different professions on the “snobbery scale”, lawyers ranked first at 56 per cent followed by politicians in second at 53 per cent and bankers in third at 50 per cent.

The survey, released last Friday (21 September), is part of an interview series conducted monthly with a geographically-stratified online sample of 1,000 Singaporeans. 

(INFOGRAPHIC: Blackbox Research)

Separately, while nearly four in five Singaporeans have heard about “Crazy Rich Asians”, only half of them said they are likely to watch the movie.

Taking the top spot at the Singapore box office in its opening week, the film grossed $2.5 million in the same week and was shown on 120 screens across the island.