Why Ho Ching must declare her salary

On 1 July Malaysia’s Parliament passed a motion to require all MPs, as well as their wives and children, to declare their assets. While it has not yet been passed into law, which the Malaysian Law Minister said would be done in a Bill introduced in the next Parliament session, MPs, their spouses and minor children would have to start complying with it immediately under pain of penalties for making a false declaration. Declarations would be published on the Anti-Corruption Commission website.

The Lees and the PAP have always used corruption in other countries to justify their own authoritarian rule. Just today on Twitter, Wei Ting, a journalist who writes for the Economist, spouted the standard mantra that is trotted out unthinkingly (like saying God is Great!):

While low-level corruption is by and large absent (though to be fair most developed countries at Singapore’s level of GDP per capita do not have much low-level corruption) the absence of evidence does not indicate that there isn’t any, particularly in a country where the size of the reserves and the Government’s assets remain a state secret. In the absence of information, Wei Ting cannot presume that corruption is low but this is part of the standard PAP and Western argument used to excuse the Lee family’s absolute control and authoritarian rule.

In fact there is plenty of evidence that there is corruption at the top. It would be considered corrupt in most countries, and certainly a violation of basic principles of good governance and rule of law, for the PM to appoint or to allow his wife to be appointed by a committee that is beholden to him as head of the Sovereign Wealth Fund, like LHL has done with Ho Ching. Despite nearly a decade of my calling for Ho Ching’s remuneration to be made public, we are still no nearer finding out. Recently, after some prodding by me, the Workers’ Party asked a question in Parliament about the remuneration of the top 3 officers at Temasek and GIC. Lawrence Wong made the offensive and hilarious argument that these were private companies and therefore under no obligation to reveal what they paid their executives. While Singaporeans continue to get hot under the collar about the PM’s remuneration, they miss the fact that his pay is likely dwarfed by his wife’s, which could run into billions. Also we should be told if she gets other perks, like use of the Gulfstream business jet owned by Temasek subsidiary ST Aerospace.

Ho Ching’s earnings are likely only a fraction of the total Lee family assets. Back in 1976 my dad was able to show that Lee & Lee, the law firm headed by LHL’s mum, had almost a monopoly on conveyancing business from the HDB. LKY promptly sued my dad for defamation and ensured his suit was heard by his relative Freddy Chua, who awarded LKY $130,000 for saying what most Singaporeans knew. If there is significant wealth that cannot be explained by earnings or investments (though these obviously must not involve insider knowledge or favours) then it should be confiscated.

When LKY’s wife had a stroke and had to be placed on life support, the Lees got their Parliamentary poodle to abolish death duties thus ensuring that the Lee family assets remained secret and so there was no disclosure even when the first ruler in the Lee dynasty passed away. To this day Singaporeans have no idea how much the Lees own, either in Singapore or abroad. Instead we are treated to the cynical humbug of Ho Ching taking a $15 handbag to the state dinner with the Obamas or state media photos showing the Lees picnicking in the Botanic Gardens as though they were just an ordinary Singaporean family.

Singapore needs to follow the Malaysian example and force all MPs to declare their assets publicly with severe penalties for false declarations. No doubt the Government will say that PAP MPs already are required to declare their income to the PM in confidence and Ministers are required to declare all assets and income to the President (through the PM). However since Minister’s declarations go through the PM it is not clear whether the PM himself submits a declaration to the President or whether he is exempted. The President does not publish these declarations and since she effectively owes her position to the PM (who disqualified Tan Cheng Bok and other Malay candidates to ensure she would win), she is not likely to stick her neck out by asking for too much detail. The previous President was a relative. Given the President can be removed from office by a vote of 2/3s of MPs she is never going to be any kind of check at all.

In any case there is a glaring loophole in the rules covering both Ministers and MPs as they say nothing about spouses or children. Obviously his wife is the major breadwinner and probably owns the majority of the family assets. Or they have been put in a family trust which allows LHL to be the beneficial owner and receive income while creating a legal fiction of non-ownership.

The mere fact that the Government is so secretive about Ho Ching’s earnings means that they are scared about the consequences of disclosure. If Singaporean and Western apologists are going to bandy around words like corruption-free about the Lee regime then the Government should make sure that it at least comes up to Malaysian standards of disclosure. It should also remove the CPIB from the Prime Minister’s Office and make it properly independent.

 

Kenneth Jeyaretnam

* The author blogs at https://kenjeyaretnam.com/.

 

 

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20 Responses to “Why Ho Ching must declare her salary”

  • Vegina Lee:

    Dear KJ, proud son of our spiritual leader the late JBJ,

    singaporean heterosexuals have not exhibited the courage like our true blue Singaporean gays who protested without masks wearing pink at the Pink Dot.

    So, if this courage deficit cannot be solved, there will be no one who dares to protest to force the salary to be revealed.

    Imagine in HK , if the People wants to know the lam’s salary, they can easily protest and force the govt to reveal.

    Singaporeans however, are trapped in a psychological conditioning I coin as BOH BIAN PEOPLE POWER.

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  • who's gonna make them disclose:

    i can see now in my mind : LHL will go ballistic and call for a parliament session to tweak the oredy ‘abused’ constitution so that their real salaries n their families need not be disclosed.
    who can make them?
    all in charge are their own kaki langs..being paid handsomely to keep their gaps shut.
    HJ and LHL, what are you hiding ?

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  • Curois:

    KJ,
    You are too honest. The world is not fair. People always fight for their own interest. What ever you propose can simply be rejected based on current laws.
    So here is a way: Start a company. Sell a raffle on the lady’s salary. Collect bets (legally). Pay better than 4D or Casino (you know what Singaporeans like). Not only you can get rich but also the answer will come out.
    Just one caveat: she herself might win! HAHAHHHHAHAHAH!

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  • Flabbergasted:

    Its often heard that we can’t vote anyone else because the opposition or no one else has any experience to run the country.

    We are so wrong!!!!

    Let’s give them a chance.

    Obama never had experience running a country, but he did well.

    Jokowi never had experience running a country, but he is one of the best things that happened to Indonesia.

    I liken it to this analogy which is quite common in Singapore :

    A child has just passed his/her driving licence, came home happily and similarly the parents congratulated him.

    Happily he asked to borrow the family car.

    The parents immediately turn around and resounded “NO”. Reason being, he does not have the experience.

    Lets stop and think, if even the parents won’t give the trust to him, who else in the world will?

    Give the opposition a chance, I’m sure they will be good for at least 2 terms, bring someone else in after 2 terms before they get too comfortable and evil sets in.

    PM term must be limited to 2 terms, only can serve once in his lifetime, thereafter leave politics forever. No staying back as senior or mentor shit.

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  • N.Jungne:

    We have to VTO

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  • become a lawyer, doctor,:

    //The parents immediately turn around and resounded “NO”. Reason being, he does not have the experience.//

    hahahahaha.

    if a child can start from zero and learn to become a lawyer, doctor, a 20-star general and then proceed via the back-door to become ministar or NP ?

    why cannot other grown up men or professionals (not from the white idiotic gang) with a wealth of experience in their respective fields do the same to run the garment ?

    unless there are deliberate hindrances (either verbally or through acts) to ensure the impossibility ???

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  • MarBowling:

    Holee Jinx’s $alary is ONLY a Bagful of peanut$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ when each peanut is worthed $1million!

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  • Corruption Revisited:

    What does it mean for Singapore to be ranked 4th in the world as having a crony-capitalist political-economy?

    WIKIPEDIA:
    Crony capitalism is an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risk, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class.

    This is often achieved by using state power rather than competition in managing permits, government grants, tax breaks, or other forms of state intervention over resources where the state exercises monopolist control over public goods, for example, mining concessions for primary commodities or contracts for public works. Money is then made not merely by making a profit in the market, but through profiteering by rent seeking using this monopoly or oligopoly. Entrepreneurship and innovative practices which seek to reward risk are stifled since the value-added is little by crony businesses, as hardly anything of significant value is created by them, with transactions taking the form of trading. Crony capitalism spills over into the government, the politics, and the media, when this nexus distorts the economy and affects society to an extent it corrupts public-serving economic, political, and social ideals.

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  • qit:

    Some people estimated her pay is almost close to $100M a year.

    Her management staff every year already more than $20M++.

    Norwegian fund the best fund in the world the CEO only $880k, are we over paying these useless people?

    70% happy with it?

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  • NotMyProblem:

    Flabbergasted:
    Its often heard that we can’t vote anyone else because the opposition or no one else has any experience to run the country.

    We are so wrong!!!!
    …….

    What PAP has are just old experience.

    Let me ask, I have experience is sending telexes and very good at shorthand, are these skills of any use now?

    What era are we now!! PAP’s experiences and methods are already outdated. PAP has never change since 50 years ago, they still talking about it.

    We were one of Asia’s 4 dragons, what are we now? There other 3 dragons are far far advance than SG!! PAP’s old experience is leading us to no where.

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  • TruBlu:

    well,what can we infer from this NON-DISCLOSURE?

    SHE is TOO ASHAMED to declare her humongous paycheck becos she does not evn deserve it???

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    @ NotMyProblem:
    S’pore wasn’t even a dragon but a cockroach masquerading as one. All the technology & investments belong to foreign MNCs. Remember the HDD industry in S’pore, after Seagate, Western Digital & Maxtor Et Al left our shores, there weren’t any residual left over for S’pore to pick up. It just left without a trace.

    And u-noe-who threw a tantrum when asked about Ho Ching’s salary.
    Link:https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2019/05/24/former-cna-reporter-recalls-how-pm-lee-threw-a-tantrum-after-being-questioned-about-ho-chings-salary/
    Given his precarious health condition, especially after the Dhabalan “slap” which was heard around the world but old Goh claimed that it was a myth. But the dragon prince suddenly fell ill & poor daddy had to reconstitute his cabinet into a bunch of Yes-men & sycophants before he eventually recovered 13 years later to take control.

    NotMyProblem: What PAP has are just old experience.

    Let me ask, I have experience is sending telexes and very good at shorthand, are these skills of any use now?

    What era are we now!! PAP’s experiences and methods are already outdated. PAP has never change since 50 years ago, they still talking about it.

    We were one of Asia’s 4 dragons, what are we now? There other 3 dragons are far far advance than SG!! PAP’s old experience is leading us to no where.

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  • Haigen-Diaz:

    Rabble-rouser: And u-noe-who threw a tantrum when asked about Ho Ching’s salary.
    Link:https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2019/05/24/former-cna-reporter-recalls-how-pm-lee-threw-a-tantrum-after-being-questioned-about-ho-chings-salary/

    @ Rabble-rouser:
    There is no harm in asking the obvious. Unless the naked emperor objects.

    Obviously our personal perspectives will heavily influence our answers – and that is perhaps the biggest challenge we face as a nation. I don’t know why a matter of this importance should take years. This is all about the honesty of our government and the longevity of our country as we know it.

    After reading Kenneth Jeyaretnam , we are again the proverbial frogs in the slowly boiling water. In legends and fairy tales – archetypal stories that have resonated throughout human society since the beginning of recorded time – there have been fat, foolish kings who measured their own girth to determine their worth. The equivalent in our modern era, reminding us just how shallow, corrupt and lost we have sunk must be the bloated elitist milieu portrayed in the Hollywood movie “Crazy Rich Asians”.

    The values of compassion, generosity of spirit, loving-kindness, and simple joy are disregarded, replaced by envy, materialism run amok and an overarching cupidity that solely focuses on who has how much and who has more. A quick look at national politics shows where this nasty, deplorable state of affairs has gotten us.

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    @ Haigen-Diaz:
    Bro! S’pore isn’t even a country nor the people, economic participants inside a dynamic sphere. World leaders see S’pore for what it is; in 2nd BRI, G20 summits, u-noe-who is positioned in the furtherest fringes of the group photo taking session. An indictment of S’pore’s increasingly economic irrelevance & a poor profile of how the world see S’pore’s leadership inspite of the riches they purport to command for their brilliant governance & god-like qualities!
    Cutting it down to the barest minimum, S’pore is a personal fiefdom contingent upon absolute control; & the lesser participants of the economy are like the disenfranchised, landless cotton sharecroppers of the US Deep South from the past.
    And my economic description is apt because the main focus is always on the land ownership resources; maximizing the rent collection from the use of land; creating crony business franchises which they have a inherent stake & expanding the workforce numbers (thru foreigners) & extending labour dependency (on wage slaves & debt serfs) simply to exploit a weak captive market – harvesting their “blood, sweat & tears” because the mechanism lacks compassion, generosity, inclusiveness & the idealism of nationhood.
    In it’s stead, there are elements of tribalism & small interest groups everywhere. Each tribe/SIG agitating for small gains or given trinklets (Pioneer/Merdeka), denigrating others so that they can be the flavour of the month. But the controllers of the system laughs all the way to the bank reaping riches beyond their wildest dream.
    You can hear from time to time, S’porean wealth class dissing their own kind as not hardworking, choosy, & spoilt – deserved to be replace by foreigners. But the most important factor everyone overlooks is that locals have job mobility which most slave driving employers dread. They prefer the rigid labour immobility from their foreign workforce whom they can extract 996 work culture of an involuntary nature.
    But these are all unsustainable factors because work productivity from labour input were near zero while the economic throughput in terms of a bouyant business eco-system were declining (SGX bourse capitalisation already halved in 10 years). Much of the monetary resources aggregated into the property sector trapping significant capital in a greater fool game. Constantly showcasing small examples of private-govt initiated innovation & creativity start-ups in the business sphere but did anyone see the fruits of their endeavour? Significant infusion of state’s capital but very little evidence of success nor ROI measurements. I worry for the future for the average S’porean!

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  • Python 5:

    must declare all the top management civil servants salary and CPF and financial assets also.

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  • AristoCATs says . . .:

    AristoCATs says – “a state secret!”
    -
    They do it – bcos “they can”. . .
    -
    Remember the Ballot Box !

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  • A nation based on believing:

    The singaporean voters allowed this problem.

    What to do?

    They prefer to base on believing.
    Very unscientific.

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  • A nation based on believing:

    Flabbergasted:
    Its often heard that we can’t vote anyone else because the opposition or no one else has any experience to run the country.

    We are so wrong!!!!

    Let’s give them a chance.

    Obama never had experience running a country, but he did well.

    Jokowi never had experience running a country, but he is one of the best things that happened to Indonesia.

    I liken it to this analogy which is quite common in Singapore :

    A child has just passed his/her driving licence, came home happily and similarly the parents congratulated him.

    Happily he asked to borrow the family car.

    The parents immediately turn around and resounded “NO”. Reason being, he does not have the experience.

    Lets stop and think, if even the parents won’t give the trust to him, who else in the …

    Singaporeans very weird.
    They allow unlimited terms for a pm.
    They allow the breaking of promise of cpf at 55.
    They don’t want to demand how much HC earns.
    A nation based on believing.
    Very unscientific.

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  • sgs bullied into silence:

    @TruBlu
    i think we all agree with you,
    she really didnt earn or deserve that ridiculously humongous salary.
    even the job was given to her ..just like her useless husband got his pm job..
    loosing $mils to $bils every now m then , she still can hold on to the job..
    in private sectors she’ll be kicked out or worse,charged.

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  • Haigen-Diaz:

    Rabble-rouser: S’pore isn’t even a country nor the people, economic participants inside a dynamic sphere. World leaders see S’pore for what it is; in 2nd BRI, G20 summits, u-noe-who is positioned in the furtherest fringes of the group photo taking session. An indictment of S’pore’s increasingly economic irrelevance & a poor profile of how the world see S’pore’s leadership inspite of the riches they purport to command for their brilliant governance & god-like qualities!

    @Rabble-rouser,

    In thinking about the colossal blunders he made in front of US businessmen,
    the key is that autocracy over here cannot be used to suppress autocracy over there. The ‘small government’ egos and concentrated power of autocrats lack the checks and balances required to achieve objective diplomatic solutions. That type of willful ignorance is as dangerous as absolute isolation. Ultimately in current times a realpolitik approach toward foreign policy is a far better, and more viable option than recycling past solutions in a vain attempt to recapture former glories from dear ‘papa’.

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