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Netizens scrutinizing Iswaran’s S$8,500 ‘reduced ministerial pay’ and S$16,000 MP allowance amidst CPIB’s probe

PM Lee’s announcement of Minister Iswaran’s salary slashed to 8,500 has sparked intense social media debates among Singaporeans.

Concurrently, PM Lee addressed WP MP Dennis Tan’s query, elucidating that Iswaran’s MP pay — SS$16,000 monthly — remains untouched, as Parliament would have to move a motion to suspend the MP from its service.

Netizens debate whether Iswaran should receive pay while assisting the CPIB investigation after taking leave from duties.



SINGAPORE: On Wednesday (2 Aug), Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong confirmed that the ministerial pay of Transport Minister S Iswaran had been slashed to S$8,500 until further notice, following his relief from ministerial duties. He also noted that Iswaran is still receiving his allowance as a Member of Parliament.

In his Ministerial Statement, PM Lee informed Parliament about the pay cut, which was in reference to the ongoing investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) involving Minister Iswaran. He also addressed the resignations of the former Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and MP Cheng Li Hui due to an extramarital affair between the two.

Additionally, PM Lee revealed that the CPIB had discovered information regarding Minister Iswaran that warranted further investigation, and notified him of this on 29 May. The CPIB then independently pursued this lead further.

On 5 July, the Director of CPIB briefed the Prime Minister on the findings, explaining that a formal interview with Minister Iswaran was required to advance the investigation. PM Lee approved this on 6 July.

Five days later, on 11 July, Minister Iswaran was brought in by the CPIB and was subsequently released on bail.

PM Lee instructed Minister Iswaran to take a leave of absence pending the completion of the investigation. The minister will remain in Singapore during this period and will be denied access to any official resources and government buildings.

He revealed that the reduction in Iswaran’s pay aligns with the current civil service practice for such rare incidents involving ministers, as there is no established rule or precedent on how to execute an interdiction on a political office holder.

While the investigation is ongoing, PM Lee cautioned against speculation and conjecture. He underscored the importance of allowing the CPIB to conduct the investigation fully, thoroughly, and independently.

The CPIB had earlier revealed on 14 July that Transport Minister S. Iswaran was arrested on 11 July, following a notice of arrest served to billionaire businessman Ong Beng Seng for an investigation involving Iswaran.

Both Ong and Iswaran have been released on bail, with Iswaran’s passport confiscated. The amount of bail for Iswaran was not disclosed, but it is known that Ong was granted bail of $100,000.

The exact details and nature of the corruption case involving the two high-profile figures remain undisclosed, and the CPIB has not provided any further details.

Ministerial salary structure in Singapore: currently stands at S$55,000 per month

Notably, ministerial salaries have not seen adjustments since 2012. At present, the benchmark ministerial monthly salary is set at S$55,000, equating to an annual income of S$1,100,000. Of this sum, S$715,000 is fixed, while the remaining portion is variable.

In response to queries from Dennis Tan, Workers’ Party MP for Hougang SMC, PM Lee reveals that while the ministerial salary for Iswaran was cut to S$8,500, his MP pay remains untouched, as the allowance is not at the discretion of the prime minister, unlike the ministerial salary.

To stop the allowance, Parliament would have to move a motion to suspend the MP from its service.

“An MP’s allowance will be withheld once the MP is suspended from the service of Parliament… A motion would have to be moved in Parliament to suspend the Member from the service of Parliament. His or her allowance would be withheld thereafter,” PM Lee said.

According to the Public Service Division (PSD), the annual allowance for Members of Parliament (MPs) stands at S$192,500 or about S$16,000 monthly.

PM Lee addresses the decision on Mr Iswaran’s salary adjustment

Responding to Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa from Progress Singapore Party  on why Mr Iswaran was not put on no-pay leave, PM Lee said it was “his judgment to make”.

The civil service works in one way that basis is if you have been convicted, then you are on zero pay and other consequences will follow.

“Here I have to be fair to the minister involved, as well as do the right thing for the government and the taxpayers.

“He (Iswaran) is under investigation, it is not a minor matter. He has not been convicted and he’s not even being charged. Is it fair for me to say your pay goes to zero? I think it is not fair,” PM Lee said.

“I think we have to go on principles rather than whatever we do, anything you can do, I can do stronger. I think that would not be a wise approach to take.”

Intense debates on social media: Scrutinizing PM Lee’s decision regarding the S$8,500 pay cut

In recent times, Singapore’s ruling party, PAP, has become entangled in a series of controversies, spanning from the Ridout Road saga to the resignation of Parliament Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin due to an affair with a fellow MP, alongside the ongoing investigation involving Minister Iswaran.

Undoubtedly capturing the attention of fellow Singaporeans, fervent discussions have ignited on social media platforms following PM Lee’s recent announcement of Minister Iswaran’s salary reduction.

Among the comments posted on The Straits Times and CNA‘s Facebook post, certain netizens queried the rationale behind the continuation of the minister’s pay amidst an ongoing investigation, suggesting a suspension until clarity is achieved or his name is cleared.

These netizens have put forth the viewpoint that since the Minister has taken leave from his official duties, he could potentially be seen as receiving pay for inactive involvement while assisting the CPIB investigation.

Some satirical comments playfully suggested that one of the perks of the job could be the ability to receive a salary despite being under investigation and restricted from official duties.

One netizen has even proposed a pay reduction to around S$4,000 or S$5,000, arguing that such an amount would suffice for Minister Iswaran to cover his regular household expenses.

Comments defending the pay are reasonable

In contrast, other individuals have argued that retaining the existing pay is defensible, as it aids in meeting the Minister’s personal household financial obligations.

A particular netizen, often seen in support of the PAP on comment threads, defended that the Minister has not been proven guilty at this point, and pointed out that this procedure aligns with established civil service standards and represents a reasonable equilibrium between taxpayers’ interests and the rights of individuals under investigation.

Nevertheless, this perspective encountered criticism from some quarters. A counterargument was presented, questioning what would transpire if an ordinary employee or salaried individual were to be accused of a similar crime.

It was suggested that such individuals might face suspension or termination during their investigation.

Netizens questioned why Iswaran still getting paid  with “Taxpayers’ money” for “doing nothing”

Additionally, some individuals expressed the view that taxpayer funds are involved in this scenario, and if the Minister is not actively fulfilling his duties, then remuneration should not be provided.

Another perspective was presented candidly, comparing the situation to what typically occurs in organizations when an employee is arrested.

The comment noted that in such cases, the person is often placed on no-pay leave, suspension, or even dismissed, regardless of the charges they face.

This observation was contrasted with the scenario being discussed, where individuals in prominent positions seem to continue receiving their salary even when facing serious allegations.

A netizen highlighted that Minister Iswaran’s pay status only disclosed after a question by WP MP Dennis Tan

An examination of The Online Citizen’s Facebook post reveals that netizens are actively engaging in discussions about the issue.

A significant number of them express their support for the notion that the Minister’s pay should be suspended during the investigation until his innocence is established, with some suggesting unpaid leave as well.

A netizen pointed out that it was due to Workers’ Party MP Dennis Tan’s inquiry that Singaporeans became aware of Iswaran also receiving MP pay.

In a satirical comment, a comparison is drawn, highlighting Singapore’s reputation for offering competitive ministerial salaries to prevent corruption. However, the irony is noted that even when a minister is under investigation by anti-graft authorities, their pay continues uninterrupted.

PM Lee once said the Singapore government pays officials according to their worth

It is hard not to recall that in 2020, PM Lee once said Competitive ministerial pay in Singapore is one of the factors that help deal with the problem of corruption in the country

In July 2020, in a conversation with American philanthropist and businessman David Rubenstein and the Atlantic Council, PM Lee defended the existing system works for Singapore, despite acknowledging that it is “not uncontroversial”.

He went on to say that the Government pays the officials “according to what he (or she) is worth), as well as “according to what they are contributing”.

The Prime Minister noted that if the Government does not do that, it would compromise on the quality of the civil service.

“I think it works for us. It’s not uncontroversial, but we believe that it’s best that we pay the person according to what he is worth and according to what he is contributing.

“Because if you don’t do that, either you will compromise on the quality of your civil service or people will find ways to make up and compensate, camouflage forms of compensation, or you’ll have a revolving door and you have something when you go out, after you retire, and I think those lead to other kinds of big problems.”

In a curious turn of events, PM Lee now faces a situation where one of his colleagues, Minister Iswaran, is under investigation by the CPIB. This development has seemingly deviated from the principles outlined in PM Lee’s earlier statements.


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Why pap is stupid. They should impose a fine on any mp or minister who gets himself into controversy. The fine should be 10 years of his or her past drawn salary.

I kniw right..only in SG got this kind of cartoon system because you’re an elite.
I wished the other firms and companies adopt this stance for their employees.
Coming from the Ah Gua can see he still trying to save his henchmen. He already declared he’s God.

And that’s SGD8,500.00 on top of Iswa’s SGD16,000.000 monthly salary as MP.!
Pinky ‘s silent message: if not happy, don’t vote for us!
Of course he doesn’t have the courage to say that.

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Why should taxpayer made to pay $8500 to him since he was relief from ministerial duties? Worse as he was also arrested? The money is for him to cooperate or prevent further corruption and embarrassment? These Pappy likes to play with their own Pappy English dictionary they wrote themselves. No warrant of arrest issued but then the person can be classified as absconded by them. The fat one was arrested but taxpayers need to pay for his upkeep. Why not funded by Pappy themselves? When the Deputy Speaker was found by the Law Society guilty of wrong doing, he was… Read more »

In the corporate world a suspension would end the employee’s remuneration. How can Iswaran be collecting his MP’s pay plus $8500/-? Which constituency is he representing? West Coast residents please vote a record 95% for PSP in the next elections. Please show the PAP that this kind of governance is repulsive.

Its diff on the SG ground, if u got re.trench or freeze, 0 to ur financial! But its diff when involve TAX$ for the mil$ elected elite. We paid them to live in luxury

The right course of action would be suspension WITHOUT pay. Ong Beng Seng can support Iswaran until he is cleared 🙂

I would not be surprised if Iswarn walks away unscathed. I mean, Christopher de Sousa got away.

As far as I know, all civil servants are subjected to the Government HR IM No.2 including the top ranking officers in civil service (I don’t remember the policy well and may be mistaken) and a minister is a Civil Servant where as an MP is somewhat not unless holding a position i.e. Perm Sec of an agency. If it does, the question is what is stated in the policies written in IM no. 2A – 2H, I think last is 2H) These HR policies are classed as confidential though there are just HR policies. Taxpayers deserves to know if… Read more »


reading between the lines, pinky said …
this is the lowest i can offer,
if still not happy, you can vote us out.

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