S'pore political office holders received average of more than 4 months performance bonus yearly

Ministerial salaries will still remain frozen at their current level.

Sulaiman Daud | September 10, 2018, 11:25 PM

Singapore’s political office-holders received an average of more than four months of performance bonus per year between 2013 and 2017.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a written answer on Monday, Sept. 10, in response to a question filed by the Workers’ Party’s Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera.

The average performance bonus was 4.1 months in 2017.

This was the average performance bonus over the five-year period:

  • 2017 -- 4.1 months
  • 2016 -- 4.3 months
  • 2015 -- 4.4 months
  • 2014 -- 4.2 months
  • 2013 -- 4.3 months

These figures also mean that 2017 was the year with the lowest average bonus.

Other remuneration

Besides the annual performance bonus, political office holders also receive the following payments that make up their salary:

  • Monthly salary
  • 13th month non-pensionable annual allowance
  • National bonus (linked to Singapore's socio-economic outcomes)
  • Annual variable component, as paid to civil servants

Salaries will still remain frozen

In March 2018, DPM Teo Chee Hean announced that ministerial salaries will be frozen for the next five years.

This decision was made despite a recommendation from the Committee to Review Ministerial Salaries to grant a 9 percent increment due to a similar rise in benchmark salaries.

Said Teo:

"The government has decided that since the scheme remains valid and the economy is still in transition, we will not change anything now and will maintain the current salary structure and level.

We will review the matter again after five years or when it becomes necessary."

Prime Minister Lee, in his written reply, echoed the Committee's finding that the current pay structure "remained sound."

He reiterated Teo's stance and stated that this remained the government's position:

“I formed a committee in 2017 to review whether the salary framework established in 2012 remains appropriate and valid against its intended goals, and what adjustments may be useful; and whether there is a need to adjust the salaries should there be a change in overall salary levels based on the proposed framework."


"Therefore, we should maintain this structure. While the MR4 (or entry-level minister) benchmark had increased by 9 percent since 2011, the government noted that the 2017 MR4 benchmark was lower than the 2016 MR4 benchmark, and hence had decided to maintain salaries at the current level and watch salary trends further.

That remains the position."

ESM Goh on ministerial salaries

The question and answer on bonuses comes after Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong's remarks on ministerial salaries during a dialogue at the South East District Conference on Aug. 2.


In a later clarification on Facebook, ESM Goh said that he did not mean or believe that Singaporeans at whatever level of income are mediocre.

He added:

"Salaries is not our starting point in looking for Ministers. Character, motivation, commitment, selflessness, practical abilities, competence and proven performance are the main attributes we look for. The first four attributes are veto factors.

When we look at abilities, competence and performance are reflected in a person's compensation (American term for salary)."

Top image from Edwin Lee via Wikimedia Commons