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It was a jaw-dropping moment, akin to a bolt of lightning from the blue. A first glance at Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s comments in a dialogue with South East District residents on 2 August elicited the instinctive response: is this fake news? Did he really say that?

Yes, he really did. “I am telling you the ministers are not paid enough, and down the road, we are going to get a problem with getting people to join the government…now we dare not pay ministers a good wage,” said Goh in a conversation with Braddell Heights resident Abdul Aziz, 70.

And the former Prime Minister (1990-2004) went further, “You are going to end up with very, very mediocre people, who can’t even earn a million dollars outside to be our ministers. Think about that. Is it good for you, or is it worse for us in the end?”

And just like that, the 77-year-old revived the perennial, and always contentious, issue of ministerial pay: just how much is enough? For “very, very mediocre” Singaporeans like myself who do not earn anywhere close to a million dollars, his comments also presented a false equivalence: that high pay somehow equates to a high level of competence.

Goh has since come out to say that he did not mean to call Singaporeans mediocre and that salaries are not the “starting point” in recruiting for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP). But the damage had already been done.

More at https://www.prolificskins.com/forum/current-affairs/comment-the-furore-over-ministerial-pay-is-gaining-currency-again