What are we paying for a world leader?

I was getting my usual dosage of local politics (albeit on the blogosphere) when I came across this link on Mr. Wang’s blog. Somehow I have the slightest inkling that the condition for a blog to gain “authenticity” in the eyes of bloggers is to hit out at our local government – hereby designated as the punching bag. Once you have derided and shown your full unsupport for them, the masses will (perhaps) flock to you.

Interesting theory, isn’t it? I can be sure that I am not the one who first thought of it though. But back to track – Mr. Wang’s blog. He linked this article which I will cite too in full glory – this is just too painful to miss.

World leader salary comparison (click to read IHT)
April 9, 2007

According to a government announcement Monday, the prime minister of Singapore will draw an annual salary of slightly more than $2 million starting next year.

A look at how that stacks up:

President George W. Bush: $440,000
Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain: $370,000 (187,000£)
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan: $360,000
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany: $350,000 (261,500 euros)

Works Cited

International Herald Tribune. “World Leader Salary Comparisons.” News Reports. April 9 2007. Accessed on April 12 2007, <http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/09/asia/singbox.php&gt;


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12 thoughts on “What are we paying for a world leader?

  1. i wanted to write a lengthy reply to this issue but decided against it. it is not just an overnight thing that singapore’s ministers are the highest paid in the world, but no one bothered to say anything until the pay raise. sure, it is also about the gst hike and everything else, but really, for the past 30, 40 years this has been the case, why didn’t anyone say anything?

    at the same time, i can also think of a million reasons why singapore’s ministers are the highest paid compared to those in other countries, the President of the USA even. but again, like i said, it’s a lengthy argument.

    but just one point to chew on; if you could be the President of the USA, would you be happy with $440,000? Not forgetting all the perks of job you’re getting; the White House, Air Force One, leader of the world’s only Superpower (for the next couple of years at least), all the military and economic power at your fingertips and at your will to control and manipulate.

    With all that power, would you be happy with $440,000 being the President of the USA, or $2 million as the PM of Singapore?

    I’m ambitious, and I’d say that there are some things $2 million can’t buy.

  2. “but really, for the past 30, 40 years this has been the case, why didn’t anyone say anything?”

    Actually the benchmarking of ministers’ salaries it only started in the 1990, not 30 or 40 years ago, and it already attracted considerable criticism then (as considerable as criticism of the PAP government can get).

    In fact one of the most outspoken critics at that time was Professor Walter Woon, then a Nominated Member of Parliament, and now the Solicitor-General of Singapore.

  3. [In view of the rhetoric on the issue of ministerial salaries, it reminds me of nothingness!]

    I would just like to take a stance of ambiguity with this article – drawn salaries do not necessarily relate to taxable income per year .

    Granted the fact is that $2mil wins $440,000 hands down.
    Granted the fact is that those who draw $2mil are sitting on the board of an investment company and that their overall income may even be higher.

    But who is to say that George W.Bush is not in the same position? Until such doubts are clarified (I for one cannot be bothered to do the research myself), I will just look at it with a sense of detached amazement.

    After all, discourse is discourse.

  4. Mr Wang: i must have lost track of time 😉

    Aristocrat: I was just doing my readings and it struck me how idealistic people can be. We expect politicans to play a clean game, we expect them to be morally superior than the average peasant.

    But we forget that politics can be dirty, that politicans do what they can to stay in power, they do what they must to ensure their actions remain legitimate. They do what they have to to ensure survival of the state, the people they are serving, and ultimately, survival for themselves. When that time comes for you to do what you have to, to remain legitimate, you do whatever it takes, bearing in mind that sometimes, the good guys finish last.

    This is reality, even in our own lives we sometimes resort to tricks and tell white lies to protect ourselves, what more the politician who may do the same to protect himself?

    So at the end of the day, do we really expect politicians, who are no more human than we are, to be on a higher moral ground than we are?

  5. To address your last question (even though to me it sounds rhetorical!), I would pose you another question.

    Recall the management style of PAP: what were/are their mottos in the past, present and future? Do you recall hearing them proclaiming that managing Singapore isn’t for every common peasant? That there can really be no democratic choice because, once we have voted them in, they are given the power to play with us?

    Let me then ask again, why do we vote them in in the first place? Because ultimately, they are the most capable right? They are elites, to use a word from PAP’s lingo.

    So bearing in mind that they are elites and we are not, can we still expect them to be on a higher moral ground?

    P.S.: You are lucky. There’s time for revision. I, for one, am still doing my essays.

  6. Elite, or most capable, does not necessarily mean moral superiority, although most people would naturally assume it to be so =)

  7. Which reminds me of Gramsci’s “dominant hegemonies” theory; that parties and groups cannot dominate without a form of intellectual and/or moral justification.

    Which just about fits the argument doesn’t it

  8. Ah yes, the tragedy of the human condition. The impasse…Yet if we ourselves want our opinions to be heard, is there any other choice besides engaging in discourse?

    O discourse! What would we do without you!

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