How much does Singapore Cabinet cost each resident? $10 a year

Editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang mentions high ministerial pay as a factor that is increasing disenfranchisement and causing discordance between Singaporeans and the Government (Is the ground sour? Time to tackle it; Aug 26).

We face graver and more complex socio-economic and geopolitical problems with each passing decade, and these will not go away with the simplistically expedient measure of decreasing the pay of the executive branch of the Government, convenient whipping boy though it has become.

Just as some countries continually use Singapore as a bogeyman even though we have always been neighbourly, it is the nature of opposition politics to harp on divisive issues even when these have been settled convincingly in a logical manner long ago.

Paying well for talent does not make a relationship with officialdom merely transactional. The term denigrates the patriotism, ability and artistry of our governance, and the passion, service and sacrifices that have brought us to where we are today.

Yes, we all wish for transformative leaders who can inspire us to achieve more.

But, as much as many do not see this in the Government, do we see this trait in our opposition leaders?

The Workers' Party, well received and credible as it is, does not even profess the will to form the next government.

If it all comes down to just numbers, Singaporeans fork out about $50 million to $60 million per annum in taxes, or about $10 per resident a year to pay our Cabinet. To put this into perspective, one premier-grade durian, eaten within minutes, costs more than $50. So, is this a pittance or an extravagance?

Emotive issues normally cannot be settled by rational arguments, but should Singaporeans sacrifice what we have in exchange for a new set of low-paid leaders, with the attendant risk of an untried government that may run up multibillion-dollar national debts through populist policies or sheer inefficiency?

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2018, with the headline 'How much does S'pore Cabinet cost each resident? $10 a year'. Subscribe