Ministers’ pay totally transparent: Why Temasek CEO’s pay is not?


Why is it that the Parliamentary reply on ministerial salaries only talk about MR1 junior ministers’ starting salary and the PM’s, but not that of say MR1 Ministers, and if we are totally transparent – why is the remuneration of Temasek’s CEO a secret?

I refer to the article “Parliament: Ministerial salary structure totally transparent, no hidden components or perks, says DPM Teo” (Straits Times, Oct 1).

It states that “All the bonuses paid to an entry level minister form part of his $1.1 million annual salary norm, and are not in addition to that amount, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in Parliament on Monday (Oct 1).

He said all the components of a political office holders’ annual salary are set out clearly in the 2012 White Paper on “Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government”, which was submitted by an independent committee after extensive consultation with MPs and the public.

“The salary structure is totally transparent. There are no hidden salary components or perks,” Mr Teo said.”

Why is there no mention of the salaries of the otber ministerial grades, like that of MR1 Ministers?

As the ministerial review committee said last year that the ‘norm’ annual salary of a MR1 Minister is $1.76 million – what is the total annual remuneration of MR1 Ministers, including their MP’s remuneration and pension, for those who are eligible to receive the pension?

What proportion of all the Ministers are starting junior MR4 Ministers, and what is the breakdown for the higher grades of Ministers?

The Government may arguably, have only itself to blame, for causing all the speculation about ministerial salaries online.

Why can’t it be just simply transparent by disclosing the highest, lowest and average total annual remuneration every year for the different grades of Ministers?

If we are totally transparent – why is the annual remuneration of Temasek’s CEO a secret?

As Temasek is managing taxpayers’ money – why is it, as I understand it, that this question has never been asked in Parliament?

What is the total remuneration over the years, since Temasek’s CEO became the CEO?

Is it the norm for the other sovereign wealth funds in the world, to not disclose their CEO’S remuneration?

In this connection, according to the article “Norway’s $1 Trillion Oil Fund Taken to Task Over Rising Cost” (Bloomberg, Jan 18, 2018) – “The ministry said that management costs have risen “significantly over time” and are projected to hit 3.5 billion kroner ($446 million) this year, up from 2.1 billion kroner in 2014. The ministry pointed out that based on its 2017-2019 strategy plan the fund is now running ahead of schedule in terms of employees.”

So, does it mean that the “management costs” of Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) is about 0.05 per cent ($446 million divided by $1 trillion) of its portfolio value?

To the best of my knowledge, I understand that Temasek does not disclose its  “management costs” (such as the CEO’s annual remuneration) like Norway’s SWF.

What we know is that Temasek’s administrative expenses were S$8.4 billion in 2017, on a net portfolio value of S$275 billion.

Of course, Temasek has clarified that its “administrative expenses” – “”This (administrative expenses) also included expenses of subsidiary companies such Singapore Airlines, PSA, and others, and not for Temasek Holdings only”” (“Temasek Holdings responds to NSP’s claims“, Yahoo News, Aug 23, 2011).

Perhaps Temasek can go one step further by disclosing its “management costs” like Norway’s SWF.

Do most SWFs report “management costs” like Norway’s or just “administrative expenses” like Temasek?

Do most SWFs report “administrative expenses” that include the “expenses of subsidiary companies” (which it owns wholly or partly in its portfolio?) like Temasek?

Isn’t the above, arguably, in the public interest, and in line with the online falsehoods’ committee’s recommendation that the Government should give the reasons for decisions not to disclose information to the public, and to gain the public’s trust?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.