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Singapore leader’s wife defends his seven-figure pay on Facebook

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers a keynote address at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, May 31, 2019. (PHOTO:REUTERS/Feline Lim)

By Chanyaporn Chanjaroen

(Bloomberg) -- Ho Ching, who is married to Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, took to Facebook to defend her husband’s pay, which looks higher than those of many government leaders.

Singapore’s wage system stands out as it doesn’t have any other perks in kind during office, and no pensions or other benefits after the term ends, Ho said in a post published Wednesday. She was responding to an article by local blog site Seedly that compared Lee’s pay to that of U.S. President Donald Trump, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and others.

“In most, if not all, other countries, they would have many other perks during term of office, like butlers and hairdressers, free flights on national airlines, even family holidays, etc; and quite a number like the USA would include perks after end of term of office,” she wrote.

Lee’s annual pay is S$2.2 million ($1.6 million) including bonuses, according to the government’s website. His pay was such fodder for speculation that the government dedicated a webpage on the subject in September 2018, which said Lee doesn’t get a performance bonus.

The city-state has previously said that million-dollar ministerial earnings prevented corruption and helped attract and retain talent. It cut the salaries after voter unhappiness over a widening income gap weakened support for the ruling party in the 2011 elections and said last year that its ministers won’t be getting a raise anytime soon.

Ho, who is also Chief Executive of state investment firm Temasek Holdings Ltd. -- which has come under the public spotlight on its own executive compensation -- said those in public and social services need to have skills and commitment, on top of other qualities.

Having “these qualities of excellence, we must not take advantage of them to underpay, or require them to wear hairsuits for a show of sainthood,” she wrote.


© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.