In Parliament on Monday, Minister-in-charge of the Civil Service Teo Chee Hean said that senior permanent secretaries and entry-grade ministers will be getting a 20 per cent pay cut.
This made sense. Singapore is in a recession. Many Singaporeans are too facing pay cuts and even lay-offs, that is if we still have jobs. So it seems fair that our civil servants should also make some sacrifices.
And then it was revealed that after the 20 per cent pay cut, these civil servants will receive a reduced annual salary of $1.54 million this year.
It was a sum that most Singaporeans will not earn in a lifetime or 10, even without a recession. Suddenly, the words "fair" and "sacrifices" don't apply any more.
That our civil servants are among the highest paid in the world is old news.
What is ironic is that on the same day in Parliament, Mr Teo also expressed disappointment with an article that Mr Tan Yong Soon, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, wrote in the Straits Times about spending $45,000 on a cooking course in France for his family.
"The article showed a lack of sensitivity and was ill-judged," said Mr Teo.
"It struck a discordant note during the current difficult economic circumstances where it is especially important to show solidarity and empathy for Singaporeans who are facing uncertainties and hardship."
The same could be said about revealing that civil servants will be making more than one and a half million dollars this year - after a pay cut.
The issue isn't whether the high salary is justified. The issue is that calling attention to it during the current difficult economic circumstances shows a lack of sensitivity.
Especially when, as Mr Teo pointed out, it is important for civil servants "to show solidarity and empathy for Singaporeans who are facing uncertainties and hardship".
Is it possible for anyone to empathise with "Singaporeans who are facing uncertainties and hardship" when your pay is cut to $1.54 million a year?
Was the timing of the pay-cut announcement ill-judged, underscored by the unfortunate juxtaposition with the criticism of Mr Tan's article?
Isn't Mr Teo in effect doing what he is chiding Mr Tan for having done?
Or perhaps we should applaud the Government for its transparency to the point where it chastises one of its own so publicly.
In which case, paradoxically, we should commend Mr Tan for being the most transparent of all.
TRENDING POSTS OF THE WEEK
I know I blogged earlier I wasn't joining this year's Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. Then two weeks ago, I came across so...
UPDATE: The most popular Singapore blogs by monthly visits (July 2016) Three months ago, Alvinology published this list of The Top Blo...
Last month, it was reported that Nike would stop supplying to smaller shops like those in Queensway Shopping Centre and Peninsula Plaza. ...
When I learnt that Vernetta Lopez ’s autobiography Memoirs Of A DJ: Life In Progress was published last week, I rushed to the nearest major...
It started with this Cyberpioneer Facebook post: What does Military Expert (ME) 1 Clarie Teo enjoy, when she is not busy keeping ship eng...
A few days ago, my former employer, MediaCorp, announced the surprise resignation of its chief executive officer, Lucas Chow. So what ...
I first met Darryl David at Gurmit Singh's wedding dinner in 1995. David's date was a woman named Lynette Pang , who was a stag...
Two years ago, when celebrity radio deejay Glenn Ong revealed that he was dating fellow MediaCorp deejay Jean Danker after splitting fro...
Toggle has reported that actress Carole Lin has given birth to her first child: Despite being told by a gynaecologist that conceiving at ...
Okay, I surrender. I admit it. I was wrong. In April last year, I wrote a column called “ So is Joanne Peh really going out with Qi Yuwu? ...