[Poll Results] Singapore’s Prime Minister Should Not Earn More than S$325,000 A Year

Last month, the unwillingness of Singapore’s government to disclose the full salary of Singapore’s ministers caused much uproar. Singapore’s prime minister is estimated to earn as much as S$2.7 million from 2013 to 2017 but it could be more, because of a Special Variable Payment that the ministers can earn, which has no stated limit. In theory, the ministers can earn an infinite amount of salary.

Two weeks ago, I asked people how much they think the Singapore prime minister should earn. Here are the results.

[If you want to also take part in the survey, you can do so at the end of this article.]

More than 90% (93.84%) of respondents felt that the prime minister’s salary of an estimated S$2.7 million (or more) is too high.

Is Singapore prime minister salary too high.png

On how much they think the prime minister should earn, more than 40% (42.37%) thought that the prime minister should only earn a salary similar to the average of how much the political leaders in other high-income countries earn (which would be about S$325,000), or similar to the average of the other top 10-ranking countries on the Corruption Perception Index (of about S$250,000).

How much salary Singapore prime minister should earn.png

The News Lens also pointed out that, “In fact, when you look at the other countries which rank similarly on the corruption perception index, their political leaders do not even earn close to the trendline – they earn lesser. It seems that the richer the country is, the less their political leaders need to earn to maintain a low-level of corruption.”

“Only the Singapore ministers have the fantasy that it is otherwise. Only the ministers in Singapore needs to earn so much more than their peers to be able to prevent corruption,” it added.

On whether there should be a limit as to how many times the Singapore prime minister should earn over minimum wage, again more than 90% (92.36%) of respondents agreed that there should be.

Should there be limit on how much Singapore prime minister should earn over minimum wage

And when asked how much they think this limit should be, 65.64% felt that it should only be 5 to 10 times that of minimum wage, like in the Nordic countries or like the average in the other high-income countries, respectively. I met with two Norwegian friends recently, where their prime minister earns only about 5 times the lowest-wage worker. They were shocked to hear that Singapore’s prime minister earns more than 210 times more than how much a cleaner in Singapore earns.

How much should be limit Singapore prime minister should earn over minimum wage.png

In the previous article, I wrote: “It would take a cleaner more than 210 years to earn what the prime minister earns in a year, or more than 5 working lifetimes. The prime minister takes only less than an hour to earn what a cleaner earns.”

Also, “In the Nordic countries, a worker on a minimum rate wage only needs to take 5 years to earn what their prime ministers earn. However, in Singapore, a cleaner would need to work more than 5 lifetimes to earn what the prime minister earns. This means that low-income Singaporeans would never be able to earn even what the prime minister earns in a year.”

But do you know that Singapore still does not have a minimum wage, and is one of very few countries in the world not to have one? More than 90% of the countries in the world have a minimum wage. (Aside, Singapore is also one of very few countries in the world without unemployment benefits. When I was telling my Norwegian friend about this, he did a double-take and asked me again: “No unemployment benefits?” In most of the other developed countries, this is unheard of, and quite inhumane.)

So, I also asked people if they thought there needs to be a minimum wage in Singapore. Again, more than 90% (90.85%) thought that there should be one.

Should there be minimum wage in Singapore.png

On how much they thought minimum wage should be in Singapore, more than half (57.46%) felt that Singapore’s minimum wage should be set at S$1,500 to S$2,000. Another close to 30% (29.11%) felt that minimum wage should be higher, at S$2,500 to S$3,000.

How much should minimum wage in Singapore be.png

In the previous article, I wrote: “In most of the other high-income countries, there is a minimum wage that corresponds roughly to their GDP per capita or cost of living.

“In countries with a similar GDP per capita and cost of living, their minimum (rate) wages are as follows (rounded off to the nearest five hundred, for ease of comparison):

  • S$5,000 (in Norway and Switzerland)
  • S$4,000 (in Denmark and Sweden)
  • S$3,500 (in Finland)
  • S$3,000 (in Australia, Luxembourg and New Zealand)
  • S$2,500 (in Germany and the Netherlands)
  • S$2,000 (in Canada and Japan)”

Note that respondents had also voted that the prime minister should only be paid a limit of 5 to 10 times that of minimum wage. Oxfam pointed out that in Singapore, “there is no minimum wage, except for cleaners and security guards”. And for cleaners, this so-called “minimum wages” is only S$1,060.

Correspondingly, the prime minister should only earn S$65,000 or S$130,000, if his salary should be pegged to current “minimum wage”. This says two things: first, Singapore’s cleaners and low-wage workers are being paid much lower than how much they should earn corresponding to Singapore’s GDP per capita and cost of living. And second, Singapore’s prime minister is overpaid (quite obviously).

Thus, to sum up, Singaporeans believe that Singapore’s prime minister is overpaid. He should be paid a similar salary corresponding to the average salary of the political leaders in other high-income countries. His salary should also be capped at 5 to 10 times the minimum wage, as per that of the Nordic countries and the average of other high-income countries, respectively. Singaporeans also felt that a minimum wage should be set at a level of S$1,500 to S$2,000 (and perhaps to be later increased to S$2,500 to $3,000 – similar to that of other countries with a similar cost of living as Singapore).

Based on this poll, Singaporeans believe that the Singapore prime minister should earn only about S$250,000 to S$325,000. If minimum wage is increased to S$3,000, as Australia, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Nordic countries already pay, if the prime minister were to earn 5 to 10 times this level, then the prime minister’s salary should be about S$180,000 to S$360,000, which will correspond to the limit that Singaporeans think the prime minister’s salary should be capped at – at 5 to 10 times minimum wage.

In Singapore, there are still currently 43% of residents who earn less than $3,000, and when including for the foreign workforce, as many as 60% of the total workforce in Singapore are earning less than S$3,000, or less than the minimum wage level in Australia, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Nordic countries.

Clearly, the Singapore prime minister is overpaid. And Singaporeans are being severely underpaid. Ministerial salaries in Singapore need to be brought down by at least 8 times, and Singapore’s minimum salaries should be increased down the road by 3 times.

If you would also like to take the poll, you can take it below.








  1. Alan

    Although I vote for PM salary of S$325k a year, but feel that the max amount of S$2.7m in the poll is too little.
    There should be options of 10m or 50m, everyone have the right to ask for more paid.

  2. Grace

    Hello, Roy Ngerng I

    love to see you come back and open a discussion on this subject .
    we have not been heard you since last election , hope all is well with you and your family.

    your paper always help this beautiful land’s people live in a better life.
    God say, lifetime is very long , but happy time is very short.

    Prime Minister Lee , his rule period is very long, and his government , have started awareness to share the love and caring to Singaporean. we welcome this human being good-deeds

    I am an overseas Singaporean & live in one of European country now.
    i have no much chance to hear lately Singapore news.
    so thank you Roy for let us know about that updating

    about their income, I believed that it depend on the sole story, that Singapore’s born .
    1) According to a historical fact — without Lee Kuan Yew without the country of Singapore,

    Singaporean and the law should allow Li family ‘s descendants have privileges, including the founding generations financially rich for generations. Most European countries treat their founding father like this.

    2) As long as Mr.Lee’s government have been good to the elderly , to the people of Singaporean. Give them tolerance and love, like Euorpean countries, give the pension monthly to the elderly Singaporean.

    we hope Singapore government knows that
    if they want to go fast, go alone
    if they want to go far, go together with the people.

    God Blessing Singapore and Singaporean !

    • Christopher Brickhill

      Alice, I find it difficult to see what you are saying, however I conclude that you are missing the point. PM Lee’s salary is between 4 and 5 times that of the US President, and all European Prime Ministers, and these people have a real job, where as PM Lee has a somewhat Mickey Mouse job, made easier as he does not have to placate a democratic opposition. It gives Singapore a very bad reputation at it places his income at the level of the world’s dictators, which in fact has reality. For Singapore to fulfill its obligations to become and remain a democracy a salary of $200,000 is not out of order, and he would certainly be able to live on it!

      • Grace

        If a country without a royal family history, it is impossible to achieve a democratic system. ( except migration country such as USA )

        Especially in a Chinese-led country, people want achieving a democratic system is tantamount to a daydream. never happend, never !

        so if the people knows the democracy never will be happened, please please do not struggle for it, some people are dead for it, it is not worthy.

      • Christopher Brickhill

        This is rubbisn. Lots of co

        Rubbish. Most democracies are not monarchy s. You would prefer Singapore to remain a dictatorship?

    • Grace

      Singapore is a country, but for those who knows the inside story only considered it as a tribe.Of course, there are leader in the tribe.

      hard life goes by the generations …. from birth to death….from anger to liver cancer, sadness, depressing, disappoint, hopeless…. in such negative circle ….people will die soon if look for too much equality …

      the price is a whole lifetime wasted .

      not worthy…..

      if a leader who live without religious belief… please do not expecting more….such as Democracy and fairness….

      only those leaders who was strong in faith, they will care for the people ….

      • Christopher Brickhill

        You seem to be all over the place. Equality, of course, is an obligation be be secured by a PM and parliament. Fairness and democracy are necessary. Religion of course is a scourge upon humanity, and those with religious beliefs who ask others to subscribe to them an anathema to humanity

  3. Grace

    A beautiful land

    harbor busy
    airport busy
    people busy

    A beautiful land

    the sun shinning
    the earth warm
    the birds fly

    A beautiful land

    PM busy
    Han Huihui busy
    Roy Ngerng busy

    A beautiful land

    young people
    may step aside
    go abroad to study.

    A beautiful land

    Life is long
    happiness is short
    blessing one another of Singaporean….

    ( pen off at 20:45 hours , 21 Oct 2018 )

    • Christopher Brickhill

      Singapore is certainly not beautiful, and most countries have airports and harbours. Your point? Importantly education is very poor as it produces non-think automata. Good for building bridges, but not for thinking. The wealth shared by Singapore is minuscule compared by other countries and it still relies upon angmoh to do the real work, work which requires a brain.

      • Grace

        want a better life for Singaporean only can rely on the young generations, that’s why we hope young Singaporean will go abroad to study, Bring back the benefits of democracy.

      • Grace

        we remember that last generation’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew promised that if elect him , he will guarantee the Singaporean live in Switzerland’s living standards. however, seems the both two generations of Li family can’t make it.

        a bit funny, Lee Kuan Yew ‘s empty promises become to equal a fake news, just shattered his promise and the security.

        Even not sure if can be reached up China’s retirement pension standard ?

        and since not achieved the promises , so according to accountability , shall not increase the pay…that was a deal…

  4. Grace

    Hi, don’t know how why no other comments here ?

    last night i’m interested and wrote some comments,

    so this morning, i online searched about the information of Singaporean elderly ….

    If the Singapore leader refers to the British Parliament rules, the United Kingdom gives monthly pensions to the elderly…. If refers to China, China gives the elderly monthly pensions…If refers to the United States, the current president of the United States does not want any salary….

    if the first World country don’t give elderly Singaporean monthly pension……it is very hard to describe the consequences ….i do rather to believe that, maybe the leader really don’t know how was the civilized things …

  5. Sam Kensington

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  6. Grace

    i just read your twitter updates, such as Lim Tean’s speech, very inspiring, native Singaporeans shall deserve a better life.

  7. Grace

    ” In Singapore, people are being charged and arrested for posting on Facebook. Look at what a true democracy like Taiwan does:

    Taiwan’s President 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen:

    “The government that I lead will not illegally restrict citizens’… ”

    ————- if Singaporean place their view on their facebook and caused punishment , that is not good news for today.
    is there any paper or case to prove it ?

  8. Grace

    comparing long historic nation,
    Singapore is a young country,
    quickly into first World .
    producing super richer

    the rich vs the poor
    rich are insecure
    afraid of the poor taking over their fate
    they use to bully

    bully vs anti-bully
    rich want to be stable
    poor want to be fair
    the same yellow skin

    all beloved the same beautiful land
    keeping on going Singaporeans
    this nation will be strong & filled with dignity
    this forefathers are spinning in their graves

    hope is here ’cause Singaporeans will rise……
    21:01 hours

  9. alexander

    Roy, if you want to talk about truth and freedom of speech, stop banning people from your facebook. All it takes is 1 or 2 comments that debate your posts and you ban people. You want an empty echo sounding board? Sounds like it. Lol.

  10. Bepis

    Don’t need to care so much lah. Jealous of their pay then work hard and achieve their pay. People like u only look at their pay only dun even look at anything else. Have u thought of how they care about the country. This is clearly someone with an axe to grind. I am not a prime minister but i too earn a six figure income every month. There are other ways to earn money other than work.

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