Danger of picking statistics selectively to augment one's point

Dr Yik Keng Yeong's argument that our Cabinet costs each resident a mere $10 a year is a timely reminder of how not to selectively pick statistics to augment one's point (How much does S'pore Cabinet cost each resident? $10 a year; Aug 29).

A 4D punter's odds are one in 10,000, but if you ask a hardcore gambler, he'll tell you the outcome is only one of two - win or lose - and hence his chances are 50-50.

In the same vein, if China's Cabinet ministers were to be as well paid as ours, the cost to each Chinese resident would be equivalent to merely a few cents. Is that a reason they should be just as well paid?

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong lamented that he was not able to persuade two people from the private sector - one earning $10 million a year, and the other, $5 million -to join politics (Cut pay for ministers? S'pore will pay price: ESM Goh; Aug 8).

Did they specifically mention that it was due to the money?

There may have been other reasons for those people not wanting to join - for example, a reluctance to give up one's privacy, or not agreeing with the party's ideology.

Also, if one is a highly paid minister, why would he risk that salary by going against the boss? He could just put up with his role for a few years, and be set for life. He could always criticise after retirement.

The crux of editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang's message is that the political leadership seems solely focused on why salaries should be higher, while the populace has other ideas (Is the ground sour? Time to tackle it; Aug 26).

The gulf between them is because the former seems not to address the latter's concerns. If this goes on, never the twain shall meet. That's why Mr Han's reminder has come in handy.

Peh Chwee Hoe

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2018, with the headline 'Danger of picking statistics selectively to augment one's point'. Print Edition | Subscribe