Friday, April 13, 2007

Modern day Robin Hood?

It was reported that Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong will donate his pay increment of S$600,000 a year for the next five years to charity after Singaporeans became outraged by the recent ministerial pay hike. So does that make Lee Hsien Loong a modern day Robin Hood?

No. Unlike the real Robin Hood who robbed the rich to give to the poor, Lee Hsien Loong and his cronies in parliament are robbing everyone and returning only part of the loot to a selected group of poor people.

I'm not a mathematician, but someone calculated that this self-serving, unsustainable and illogical salary benchmarking exercise will cost Singaporean taxpayers $214 million, or about $50 per capita. This is absurd, because it means that Singaporean taxpayers are being forced to fund Lee Hsien Loong's "charitable" donations.

Lee Hsien Loong says that his donation will give him the moral high ground to defend the move to raise the salaries of his fellow ministers. First, you don't suddenly become moral by giving away money you obtained immorally. And least of all, you shouldn't have done it after the fact - it's akin to getting caught stealing and saying you'll return the stolen goods.

Secondly, this "act" of giving is meaningless if the other ministers continue to hold on to their salary increases. Oh, by the way, is Lee Hsien Loong implying that the other ministers are on less moral ground to defend their own increases if they don't follow suit?

Finally, did anyone question whether Lee Hsien Loong's donations will be tax-deductible? Maybe that's his creative way of avoiding taxes, if he's taxed at all.

Compared to what Lee Hsien Loong and his father have done to boost their own fortunes, Halliburton looked like a mom-and-pop operation.

I am sure some useless minister with a sissy name from the PAP (yes, I'm referring to you, Vivian) will come out and urge Singaporeans to get on with their lives. But before these assholes spout nonsense again, may I remind them that to say "move on" without dealing with the consequences is the rudest form of political expediency.

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

More like a Robbing Crook! Just shows how out of touch the self-centered PAP have become.

Insane Polygons said...

Calculations

Current salary: S$3.1 mil (Taxable income: S$3.1 mil)
Increase by: S$600,000
Donation to charity: S$600,000
Double tax deduction allocated: S$1.2 mil
Previous Salary: S$2.5 mil (Taxable income: S$2.5 mil)
New Taxable Income: S$3.1 mil - S$1.2 mil = S$1.9 mil

Using a gross personal income tax at a 20% rate (for the income bracket of S$320,000 and above)

Gross income after tax previously, taxable income @ S$2.5 mil:
Total amt after tax: S$2 mil With donation:
Gross income after tax, taxable income @ S$1.9 mil:
Gross income: S$3.1 mil
Donation to charity: S$0.6 mil
Tax to be paid: S$0.38 mil
Total amt after tax: S$2.12 mil Without donation:
Gross income after tax, taxable income @$3.1 mil: S$2.48 mil
Gross income: S$3.1mil
Donation to charity: S$0
Tax to be paid: S$0.62mil
Total amt after tax: S$2.48milNet Difference with/without donation: S$360,000

Courtesy of Insane Polygons

Anonymous said...

Actually I have gained a measure of respect for him doing so. True, it would be good if the pay rise didn't happen at all, but when does PAP ever listen to the people?

But the fact that he chose to donate his pay increase says something. He could have gone "Nya nya nya, I'm still getting my pay and you idiots can't do anything about that" in a diplomatic way, but he did donate, which he didn't have to. Though the best thing for him to do is to just say that the people are being listened to and wages for ministers will be frozen for the next five years.

Still, for self serving people to grab so much money, I can't see a reason for me to remain in Singapore. Why shouldn't I be self serving too?

Anonymous said...

Donating of increments still leaves LHL better off than before, after factoring in (1) tax-deductions, (2) influence gained through charity giving whether private or public.

(1) Donating a $600,000 increase, means that $1,200,000 of the original salary becomes tax-deductible. Since LHL is at the maximum marginal tax rate of 20%, that means $240,000 of his original salary now remains in his pocket rather than going to IRAS.

--> LHL gains an increase of 11.9% in post-tax income purely looking at his salary.

(2) LHL's public position of giving to charitable causes allows him influence over which causes get to progress, and who gets to feel indebted to LHL. Influence is gained, whether privately in who got the $$$, or publicly where LHL sells his view that he regains moral authority.

--> Real moral authority is gained only when it is absolutely clear that LHL has zero gain relative to prior to the pay increase. Just return the increment to the government's consolidated fund, rather than retain the power to influence one's private causes.

Net result, moral authority is clearly demonstrated if LHL is no better off than before, which effectively means that he should not have proposed a pay increase for political staff in the magnitude stated. If he had proposed a more moderate increase (eg - continuous inflation+25%GDP growth factor) to close the gap, he would have been seen as vastly more reasonable.

Terrible political miscalculation.

Anonymous said...

Would you respect a mother who feed herself first before feeding her hungry and crying baby?

Anonymous said...

The argument that people won't join govt unless the pay is good when applied AFTER the people have joined govt knowing that the pay wasn't going to be good, doesn't make sense.

The argument can only be used to justify a pay raise for the NEXT cabinet.

Anonymous said...

A review of PAP ministers' performance
26 January 2004
MANINFLUXX
Sammyboy‘s Alfresco Coffee Shop™ Forum
23 January 2004

Let's review each individual minister's performance in the past years and see what paying them millions of dollars of salaries have done.

Goh Chok Tong

His promise of a more compassionate and gracious society has fallen flat on its face. We continue to see ungracious behaviour in singapore. Leaving and entering MRT trains, impolite behaviour during 'sales' promotions, neighbours fighting each other, teenage fights, drunken brawls,children/siblings/family members hauling each other to courts to settle disputes.

Even PAP ministers themselves have been guilty of ungracious behaviours - chief of whom are Ng Eng Hen, boasting of his salary at a time when most singaporeans are having a hard time, and Lee Kuan Yew, for using unkind and violent words to subjugate airline pilots.

GCT's promise of 'More Good Years' and 'A Better Future' has also fallen flat on its face. In GCT's 13 years as PM, we have had one crisis after another - all of whom he attributes to 'external factors' which his govt 'cannot control'. How convenient.

GCT's promise of a more open society has seen him accepting gay people into the civil service (I will applaud him here), allowing bungee jumping, bar-top dancing, the Speaker's Corner [SDP's note: Goh originally turned down the idea of a speakers' corner, it was Lee Kuan Yew who wanted it], allowing chewing gum for medical purposes, and allowing dialects to be used on tv and radio. No political openness has yet been allowed - we still have no independent election commission ans we still do not know how the GIC is doing with our money.

GCT's encouragement of Singaporeans to invest their money in unit trusts resulted in many Singaporeans losing their investments. His urging Singaporeans to buy Singtel shares have also resulted in the same.

GCT failed to get an agreement with Malaysia on the water issue. So, he made Singaporeans drink re-cycled water which is now called Newater. I guess they mean newly-recycled water.

Days after his 'firecrackers will chase away SARS' comment, China reported its first most recent case of the virus. Now after his 'I can feel it in my bones' remark, Vietnam and Thailand reported cases of bird flu.

The most significant he did was probably to renege on his promise to restore Singaporeans' CPF. This promise will now no longer be kept.

VERDICT: Not much achieved under his leadership.

Lee Hsien Loong

As DPM he shares the same blame as the PM. I will leave it to other forummers to comment on his role as MAS Chief.

Tony Tan

The year saw hii buying military stuff to 'beef up' the SAF which was activated to light firecrackers recently in Chinatown. Tony Tan made an unforgettable comment in 2003 saying that Singapore workers are more expensive than American and Australian workers. It was an ignorant comment and one unbecoming of a DPM.

Lee Kuan Yew

As usual, he showed his 'tough' side, most recently using violent images to quieten airline pilots. "Broken heads....broken bones", "I believe that it is better to be feared than to be loved." The SIA's use of a plane to fetch his wife back from London caused an uproar. Later he said that he will be paying the cost of SIA sending a plane to fetch his wife. But the actual cost was never revealed.

Mah Bow Tan

17,000 HDB flats remain vacant. HDB flats' windows keep falling. Poor workmanship results in brand new HDB flats leaking water all over the flat. Goal 2010's status was changed from a 'vision' to a 'target'. He still flatly refuse to re-think the HDB's stance on singles purchasing new flats.

Teo Chee Hean

Tried to explain the death of commando during training. Previous to that, several deaths in the SAF were reported. Only when the commando died of drowning did he ordered a review of SAF training policies. The commando death came to light only after the commando's friend posted what actually happened on the Internet. Teo Chee Hean sent 192 SAF servicemen to Iraq. No parliamentary approval was sought before he did so. And til now, no update on their status from MINDEF.

Lim Hng Khiang

Seconded to the Prime Minister's Office last year. His handling of the SARS outbreak was questioned by Singaporeans. Later, a committee set up to tackle the outbreak was headed NOT by LHK (who was the Health Minister) but by Wong Kan Seng, Home Affairs Minister.

LHK is known for two remarks he made in previous years: His hairdo remark and his 'regret' about sending a baby to Tan Tock Seng which resulted in a bill of $300,000. LHK is now put in charge of reversing Singapore's falling birth rate.

Lim Swee Say

The re-cycling minister who apologised for the lapse in the EHI which resulted in a worker there contracting SARS. LSS also cried when our SEA Games athletes won medals. Was he also the one who was in charge of Newater?

Wong Kan Seng

Introduced the Computer Misuse Act which empowered the police to confiscate anyone's computer and its contents. Terrorism was used as the reason for doing so. Or rather, the combatting of terrorism was used as the reason for doing so. Thirteen alleged Jemaah Islamyaah members were put in detention. No evidence/proof was revealed. The 'members' were not charged and have not been given an open trial.

The police continue to reject and refuse non-gov civil groups and opposition parties permits to hold activities/exhibitions.

George Yeo

Had a very quiet 2003. Didn't see much of him. However he failed as 'co-ordinator'/chairperson for the negotiation on agriculture at the WTO Ministerial Meetings in Seattle and Doha. In 2004, he remarked that "we should try to alter our social climate here so that those who do well overseas are admired, while those who prefer to stay home all the time are suspect." I wonder what he thinks of the ah sohs and ah peks and all those who have no means whatsoever to 'do well overseas'.

S Jayakumar

Very quiet. Suffered 'high fever' just after leaving Nigeria. Told the Law Society to get their house in order, after the CJ first commented on lawyers 'running away' with their clients' money.

Vivian Balakrishnan

Commented in 2003 that allowing bar-top dancing will result in bloodshed. 'Nuff said.

Khaw Boon Wan

He told singaporeans to grow up and not let the govt tell you what to do. He also put hospital charges on the Internet.

Yeo Cheow Tong

Made an about-turn on having competition for transport companies saying: "No, it was not a U-turn, and neither was it a reversal of govt policy. But you can call it a rethink."

On the many breakdowns of MRT trains and card machines, he said: "Many problems were not related to equipment, but wrong action on the part of the commuters."

On the unemployment issue, he said: "Only 5% are unemployed. We still have 95% who are employed." Recently he removed the traffic electronic signboards which cost millions of dollars to put in place. YCT is no longer a member of the CEC of the PAP.

That, briefly, is an overview.

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