July 27th, 2011 | Contributions Author:
The issue of life long pensions in the millions is going to bug the govt and the people for a long time to come. Though everything has been above board, approved and passed in Parliament, something seems to be missing. Why are the people so unhappy about this pension scheme for the ministers and political office bearers?
Recently two ministers and an office holder lost their parliamentary seats. Several senior ministers were retired from the cabinet for good or not so good reasons. What is shocking is the revelation that they will all be receiving million dollar pensions for life, even if they are no longer ministers or office holders. What is more shocking is that many are already receiving million dollar pensions on top of their multi million dollar salaries when they hit 55, or have been receiving them for umpteen years. Some have been collecting the huge pensions for more than ten years.
What irks the people more is that the age for CPF withdrawal and retirement age for the public at large have been pushed further back. CPF savings can now be withdrawn partially at the age of 62. And the political leaders, with their huge salaries, are getting their huge pensions at 55.
Is this a case of legally right and morally wrong? Of course in cases of morality, everyone has his moral standards and everyone can claim to be on moral high grounds. The only hint of morally wrongdoing is that when the guilty party is afraid to stand up on the high box of morality to state his case. If it is morally right, everyone will jump on it to pronounce their innocence and that they are on high moral grounds for what they are doing.
Would the political leaders stand up and say that the high pensions are not only legally right but morally as well? Would they be able to tell straight in the eyes of entry level superscale admin officers in the H Grade, who are working their guts out, and drawing a couple of hundreds of thousand in annual income while they are receiving millions for life for doing nothing? Would there be a full disclosure on how many political leaders are already on the pension schemes and how many more will qualify and the cost to pay for these pensioned leaders? Even if it is going to cost only 2 plates of char kway teow, it is of public interest that the people should know.
It would be nice if this is reported in the next parliamentary sittings to clear whatever doubts and wrong perceptions there may be among the people. Political leaders must be seen to be standing on high moral grounds, not just legally. This issue has to be raised in Parliament and buried for good as the doubts and uneasiness are spreading quietly. Or would it ever be closed?
Chua Chin Leng
*The writer blogs at My Singapore News.