DAMIEN: Your story on the new ERP system has enlightened me on the issue of fairness. (READ: Transport Minister: ERP Distance-Based Pricing is “Fairer” to Motorists)
When things go right, ministers claims credit and paste their posters in every housing estate. When things go wrong and people complain, ministers call it “politics of envy” because we are not happy that they are earning millions of dollars during their term in office. I beg to differ with the second part. Since the government wants to control almost everything in Singapore, from the e-bike you CANNOT ride to the distance you travel by car, then it’s only right that the government be held accountable for lapses in the system.
I therefore suggest that ministers’ salaries be pegged to the performance of their respective ministries instead of overall GDP. When there are problems with the transport network, the Transport Minister must be held accountable. The government has fined transport operators like SMRT for lapses in the past, so maybe its time the Transport Minister gets his salary docked based on transport lapses as well. With the latest David Ong scandal, of course the party whip Chan Chun Sing should have his pay docked too for not keeping PAP leaders in check, which is a job he’s paid to do. Oh yeah, include Gan too for the whole Hepatitis C brouhaha.
I am only going by Mr Khaw Boon Wan’s logic that people should pay more if they travel further distances. If you’re in charge of a ministry, then you rise and fall together with its performance. The ERP money collected goes into a consolidated public fund. I suggest that the docked amount from ministers’ salaries be put into such a fund too.
Almost every ministry has had its lapses, as the Auditor-General has so rightly and transparently flagged. Think about how much more the government can do to benefit the people with the money collected docked salaries. Over time, we could even lower GST and other indirect taxes so that common Singaporeans can be spared the harshness of inflation. If you include Ministers of State too in the equation, we could even unveil so many more initiatives such as SkillsFuture that will benefit Singaporeans, or offer higher subsidies for increasing healthcare costs.
With the threat of not being able to buy a newer and bigger house looming, ministers will be more motivated to make sure that they get things right. That was the argument for million-dollar salaries, right? That only by paying top-dollar can we attract the best and the brightest. So the converse should be true as well. No need for hara kiri – that doesn’t do anybody any good.
My intentions are noble, and my proposal is for the good of the public, just as Mr Khaw’s intentions are genuinely aimed at ensuring that the public has smooth transport networks. I hope such a proposal will be given due consideration. Who knows, we might even see more proactiveness and stringency from our leadership akin to the times when the late Lee Kuan Yew was helming Singapore.
Thanks Damien for this letter.
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