Ho Ching defends Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s S$2.2 million salary

The wife of Singapore’s prime minister defended Lee Hsien Loong’s seven-figure pay in a Facebook post yesterday, in which she shared an article that compared the annual salaries of some of the world’s leaders including those of Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam and US President Donald Trump.

Ho Ching’s public retort followed the publication of an article titled “Why Is The Salary Of Singapore’s Prime Minister So High?” on the finance blog Seedly last month. That story ranked Lee’s pay at the top of the global list with S$2.2 million (US$1.6 million), which more than doubles Beijing-appointed Lam’s S$866,000 and easily outpaces Trump’s S$541,000.

We won’t even mention poor UK PM Boris Johnson, who takes home a measly SG$264,o00 a year (though that may explain the haircuts).

All of them, of course, earn less than bank chiefs like Piyush Gupta of DBS Bank, who took home S$11.9 million last year, the article noted.

While Ho Ching said she has no views as to how much a leader truly deserves in terms of salaries, she did feel compelled to highlight that her husband is earning top dollar through Singapore’s “clean wage system,” long touted as attracting the best and brightest while eliminating corruption by paying high wages for politicians and bureaucrats.

This is the “one big difference” between Lee and his overseas counterparts, according to Ho, 66, who is also the CEO of state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings. Exactly how much Ho Ching earns in that role is, of course, unknown, something that’s come in for criticism by the prime minister’s own brother previously.

The 67-year-old prime minister does not receive “perks in kind during office, and no pensions or other benefits after leaving office,” she said, adding that leaders in other countries more often than not receive many perks like “butlers and hairdressers, free flights on national airlines, (and) even family holidays.”

In the US, the perks continue beyond the end of a president’s term of office, she said. While not running those down, we know they include at least a pension and full-time Secret Service protection for the rest of their lives.

Ho went on to vouch for the high salaries given to people working in Singapore’s public and social services, saying that the country “must not take advantage of them to underpay.”

This is because the people that the government hires need to have “the right heart of passion and commitment,” “the right hand of skills, knowledge and capabilities,” as well as “the right head of wisdom and understanding of long term effects and sustainable systems.”

More news from the Little Red Dot at Coconuts.co/Singapore.

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