Corruption Perception Index: Million-Dollar Ministers Perform Below Expectations


The Corruption Perception Index ranks 180 countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption.

The 2021 CPI ranking puts Singapore at Number 4, below Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

This, despite our nation’s leaders earning the highest ministerial salaries in the world – in the range of S$1 million and more a year.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earns an estimated S$2.2 million a year.

Even mayors in Singapore, whose roles have constantly been called into question for being redundant, take home about S$660,000 a year each, in addition to their S$192,500 annual allowance as Members of Parliament.

In comparison, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern is paid about S$450,000 a year.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen takes home an estimated S$300,000 a year.

The Singapore government has consistently stated over the years that it is neccesary for ministers to earn high salaries, as a hedge against corruption.

It comes as a shock then that Singapore does not rank top in the CPI despite the top-in-class salaries of the nation’s top public servants.

This is the first time that the CPI has offered a “comprehensive look at a decade of corruption, revealing which countries have improved, regressed or stagnated over the last 10 years”, according to Transparency International.

The non-governmental organisation noted that Singapore has a modernised economy, efficient bureaucracy and strong rule of law, which contributes to its success on the corruption front.

It added, however, that Singapore “continues to fall far behind on human rights such as freedom of expression and association, which means that any anti-corruption success is tied to the political will of the ruling elite and may not be sustainable.”

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