Salary For President Increases, AGAIN!

“As the head of state, he represents the country and advances our interests internationally. This is why it is appropriate to peg the President’s salary higher than ministers’ and just above the Prime Minister’s.” –  Chen Hwai Liang, 

Press Secretary to the Prime Minister

Editor’s Note: What a lame statement! For shaking hands with dignities, travel on official trips to exotic places, have yours and your wife’s photos hanging on the walls of every government buildings and the best seat at the National Day Parade, this is probably the best job and highest (official) paid government job in the world. I will donate all the salaries as President to charity if I were Nathan. I also wonder aloud if President Ong Teng Cheong would have turned down the salary increase during his presidency if such ridiculous pay were being proposed back then. (updated 5 Jan 2012, with the review of ministerial salary, it was not surprising at all that the President’s pay gets the biggest chop (51%). Looking back at the statement given by this Chen Hwai Liang makes the whole argument about the President’s pay increase highly inappropriate and self-serving).

“If people are working very hard, earning a salary of $30,000 a year, I don’t think I need $4million …. it has to be some reasonable proportion. Ten times is all right but not 100 times (more).”Tan Kin Lian, former NTUC Income CEO, who says he is not contesting the presidential election for the salary (Jun 12,2011)
“To be frank, I have lost faith and respect for elected president chair. Nothing worse than an overpaid rubber stamp.” A Forumer Lim
Updated 03 Jul 2011: President S R Nathan annoucement in a statement on 1 Jul 2011 that he will step down after he completes his second term of presidency. He reiterated that he has “tried to do (his) best” in all his duties even as he conceded he has earned his “fair share of criticism”. (Askmelah’s note: the single biggest thing that he could have done would have to be turning down the unattainably high million dollar salary or have them donated to the charity during his tenure as president of Singaproe. He will then be remembered as a people’s president. Instead it is the humble voters that set PM Lee’s thinking that it was wrong and have called for a review of this flawed policy. (Mr Nathan also) didn’t seek to expand the role of the Presidency to safeguard the national reserves like his predecessor Ong Teng Cheong. Mr Nathan’s term will “be best remembered as a smooth and harmonious if not passive Presidency which avoided any clashes with the Cabinet”.  Yes, President Nathan you could have done better.)

“If I have fallen short, I would like the people of Singapore to know that this has not been for lack of effort or commitment. I have tried to do my best.

No doubt I have earned my fair share of criticism. Anyone who takes on public responsibilities has to expect that. I have taken such comments – whether made directly or via social media – as made in good conscience, and well-intended.”

Updated 07 Jul 2011: The following statement is rubbish, the President should have the morale courage to reject the obscenely (if not astronomically) high pay or have them donated to the charity if he is indeed a People’s President:
‘You can’t put the blame on President Nathan – it was a salary scheme devised to make sure that…you get the best talent. He didn’t go and ask for the money. The Government of the day felt that as the highest office bearer of the land, this was what he should be paid. Why go and blame him? As though he asked for the money, which is not true. It is most unfortunate and unbecoming.’ – Mr K. Kesavapany, director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, on the President’s salary being the subject of public criticism

And from the man himself: “I didn’t ask for it. That was the rate for the job, that’s what I accepted. You don’t like the rate, I can’t help it.” – President Nathan who doesn’t feel he needs to defend his high salary which has been criticised online. (The Sunday Times 7 Aug 2011) 

Parliament approves increase in President’s salary, expenditure

Parliament has approved an increase in the President’s salary, which is also known as the Privy Purse, for the fiscal year 2010.

The salary is now S$4,267,500, an increase of S$890,700 from an earlier estimate made in Budget 2010.

The revision is part of an overall increase in the manpower expenditure for the Office of the Istana, which is staffed by 62 personnel.

Why President’s pay seems jarring now and not before

Source: The Straits Times 26 Mar 2011

THE Prime Minister’s press secretary’s reiteration of the role of the President (‘Why the President’s salary is pegged higher’; March 18) is common knowledge and well-accepted.

Previously, when salaries of political appointees were less beyond the imagination of ordinary Singaporeans, the President’s salary, even when pegged above the Prime Minister’s, was not as jarring to the public. Now that salaries of political appointees are pegged to ‘market rates’, a salary of $4,267,500 for the current job scope of the President does appear to warrant discussion.

The Government has stated repeatedly that the presidency, though elected, is not an executive office. The President’s duties, though important, are custodial and ceremonial, not executive. In corporate parlance, this is more akin to a non-executive chairmanship, while the Prime Minister functions like a chief executive officer; the ministers as chief operating officers, chief financial or marketing officers and so on.

A non-executive chairman, though accorded the highest respect with top perks and protocol in the corporation, is not paid more than his chief executive officer.

It is time to divorce the respect for and prestige of the presidency from its salary. The status of the presidency as the highest office of the land is enshrined in the Constitution and does not depend on it being paid more than the Prime Minister and ministers.

In the corporate world, apart from the example of the non-executive chairman and CEO cited above, there are also occasions where, for market and competitive reasons, a position lower in the corporate hierarchy may be paid more than the one above. This has not compromised the organisational structure.

Cheng Shoong Tat 



An extract from the above article:

There is still more – not only do we have the highest paid Prime Minister in the world, we also have the highest paid Head of State of any republic in the world – our President. He is paid more than S$4.2million per annum. This is 8.5 times the salary of President Barack Obama.

Interestingly, the Prime Minister in Parliament has declined to divulge the salaries of individual ministers, saying they were placed in different grades.

Why? What happened to transparency? Does not the tax‐payer have a right to know? If not the precise numbers, surely a range, the median and average salary could at least be provided? Could it be political embarrassment?

Many may have forgotten that our first Executive President Mr Ong Teng Cheong, was paid, from recollection, around $700,000 per annum. He was humiliated in Parliament for asking a simple but important question – the total financial reserves of the country. He was told that it would take many, many man‐years for the answer. He was later given a shortened answer. It was a good question, our late President was merely doing his job, and yet this shabby treatment. Why?

Many Singaporeans have asked ‐ was he subsequently “punished” by not being accorded a state funeral? Yet his salary was only 16% of his successor’s annual renumeration. Why the need to raise it to such heights over the past few years? Our president’s role is mainly titular in nature. Could this be a way to “reward” a loyal supporter of the government? Or a preparation for the next incumbent? ….

“Obama is grossly underpaid. Our ceremonial president in singapore gets 10 times his pay as the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful country….. Seriously, I think the president’s pay rise is the prelude of bigger pay rises for other government jobs. After the election, we will see minister salaries go up in tandem. To finance the increments, GST should go up to 10%.”– A reader of

“Why a President needs $4.3 millions a month  (Editior’s note: should be a year) when his country men & women have been organizing all sorts of dangerous charity stunts to ask for donations to help the poor & disabled?”– A reader of

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  1. […] rate for the job, that’s what I accepted. You don’t like the rate, I can’t help it.” — President Nathan who doesn’t feel he needs to defend his high salary which was criticised extensively online. (The […]

  2. […] for the job, that’s what I accepted. You don’t like the rate, I can’t help it.” — President Nathan who doesn’t feel he needs to defend his high salary which was criticised extensively online. (The […]