Accountability

If you’re living in Singapore, you know that 2012 is going to be a year for accountability.  At least that’s what the signs point to for me.  I’m talking about the ministerial pay.  Everyone has an opinion about it and at first I thought there’s enough opinions out there already and mine wasn’t any more different.  Then I read this in Today today so this post like most of my others, is to remind me when I forget.  Today it is why I take the democratic voting process so seriously.

I’m sure this article is meant as a balance but seriously, I don’t think any sane and logical person thinks politics is charity work.  Maybe some people do and it’s good to have an article about it … timing though … reading this article made me thing Mr Cheng is a little brown noser who had plans on being a minister but is rethinking his options.  I’m definitely not saying he is one.  It’s just an impression from one article. If I ever got the chance to know him, I’m pretty sure he’s a nice guy who cares both for his family and the country but it’s quotes like “To expect someone to sell his primary residence to enter or stay in politics is an idealism detached from reality”  that simply adds to my initial impression.  No, Mr Cheng, I don’t expect anything out of ordinary of them.  I expect the government be like everyone else sell their primary residence when they have failed to do what I have entrusted them to do on my behalf.  Many Singaporeans every day have to do what they have to, even sell their ONLY homes (mind you, not just primary residence) because they didn’t make the cut at work.

That is exactly why I appreciate PM, the clean wage approach and here’s my personal take on the pay cuts – accountability.  If you work in a big organisation, you have that annual review where your bosses and sometimes your peers give their 2 cents about you.  Your promotion, salary increment, bonuses all hinge on it.  Sometimes it’s fair, sometime it isn’t, sometimes you get lucky and other times you don’t.  The election was just that – the government’s review and by most standards, PM took the results to heart and is moving in the right direction for me.

On being the highest paid government in the world, here’s my bit to my fellow Singaporeans.  The clean wage approach is truly beneficial to the common man.  We don’t have to look at other governments.  Just look at MNCs that pay people well and have all kinds of benefits.  I’ve seen it first hand myself how unnecessary trips are made to chalk up points that the executive uses for personal purposes, entertainment expenses that simply pays for friends and family to enjoy, official car to pick up the family.  In the private sector it’s somewhat accepted but in the public sector, where practical any opportunity for abuse should not exist.  That is why I think Singapore has succeeded, the clean wage approach works with no extra fat that can be abused.

I have no issues for paying people very well in a transparent manner and if they keep delivering, keep increasing the pay and reward them equally.  For me, the private and public sector should be the same in this regard.

My constituency is Bishan-Toa Payoh.  I voted the opposition not because the ministers are paid too well but because I needed the government to understand that anyone that is paid very well has to be equally accountable for mistakes.

I voted for the opposition simply because our highly paid government were not delivering on things that were important to me .  Sure, no where is perfect but I would like to try to make Singapore as perfect as it gets.  Most Singaporeans own homes, have enough to eat, access to education, what else should we complain about?  If this was the 1950s, nothing very much.  A lot has changed and besides the basics, I want to live in a home where people are safe with fair opportunities.  Beyond that I hope that we become a nation where we are compassionate, competition is heathy and empathy is a rule not an exception.  Idealistic?  For sure, but without ideals we, as a society will never progress and be no better than some other democracies that we make light off.  Which brings me to the point of the article about not overplaying the ethos of public sector …  I did say empathy is important to me and should be apparent both in public and even in the private sector … this actually requires a whole other post so I’ll leave it at this.  I am idealistic and want a balanced level headed leadership who dares to make tough decisions with empathy for the every people they are serving.  In my humble opinion, we are not there yet but my vote made its tiny say and we’re on our way 🙂

Post 2011 GE, PM has shown me that his heart is in the right place, moved very specific people, as the leader be willing to take a pay cut and be accountable.  The buck stops has to stop somewhere and it is quite clear that the PM is taking his vocation seriously.  Nothing is perfect, you can’t please everyone and there will always be someone complaining but to me, he has taken the steps in the right direction.

To simple ‘ole me, Singapore is a true democracy at work, that’s why your vote is important and every Singaporean does make a difference.  Whatever your opinion, vote that way.  Don’t just complain and expect someone else to be accountable for your excuses.  Just like the government has to be, so must each citizen.  Talk is cheap, whether in parliament or in your everyday life.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep plodding along, doing my part as we keep evolving as a nation and one day, I hope my home gets as close to my ideal one as humanly possible 🙂

p/s: on a separate note, I actually do know of Singaporeans who cannot afford housing … or like me, can’t find it in myself to pay over a quarter of a million dollars for a resale 3 room HDB flat … that begs the question, if I can’t buy, how can lower income household do it?  So I just wake up every day and keep moving in the right direction.  That’s the best we can do and all I can ask of our leaders, incumbent or otherwise.

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