A person's value is more than his title, pay

The article (Beware casual snobbery that shows contempt for ordinary folk; Aug 12) was very interesting.

Some say that the rich or richly paid are not likely to be corrupt. Not really. Many drug lords and politicians who have fingers in their national coffers are, as the Chinese saying goes, "snakes that are so avaricious that they even attempt to swallow an elephant".

The intrinsic value of a Singapore dollar - the value of the plastic and ink that make up the dollar - should be lower than its currency value.

But, the intrinsic value of a person is his innate character. It should be higher than the values of his title and his pay.

A learned Roman refused to serve his emperor and was reduced to eating porridge, considered a poor man's food.

Someone taunted him, saying: "If you know how to serve Caesar you don't have to eat porridge."

He replied: "If you know how to eat porridge, you don't have to serve Caesar."

Once, I was surprised that a millionaire was caught for financial corruption. "Didn't he have enough?" I exclaimed.

My wife, who overheard me, said: "What do you know? You have never even smelled a million!"

Good point. If I already had a million, would I be practising the philosophy of one of my very rich students who once told me: "Sir, you can never have too much money."

A really great man is one who, while serving Caesar, also knows how to eat only rice or even porridge, if necessary. Such integrity is a rarity.

Ee Teck Ee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2018, with the headline 'A person's value is more than his title, pay'. Print Edition | Subscribe