Singapore PM takes pay cut – but his £1.1m is still eight times as much as Cameron


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The Independent Online

Remember, we are all in this together. In these times of austerity and cuts, Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore, has agreed to a cut in his salary by more than 36 per cent. However, he will still earn £1.1m – more than any other comparable world leader.

The premier and his ministers accepted the pay cut, proposed by a committee established to look into the issue. "Salaries must be competitive so that people of the right calibre are not deterred from stepping forward to lead the country," the committee said.

According to Reuters, the committee to review ministerial pay was set up after parliamentary elections last year that saw Singapore's tiny opposition make unprecedented gains against Mr Lee's People's Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the country since independence in 1965.

There have been growing complaints about income inequality and rising prices for housing, transport and other basics on the island. At the same time, the committee's comments underscored its wish to ensure that ministers remained well compensated to help avoid corruption and to attract talented individuals. Ministers have previously had their salaries measured against corporate CEOs and other high earners.

Despite the cut, Mr Lee will still earn almost three times as much as Donald Tsang, the chief executive of Hong Kong, the next best paid leader on £353,000 a year, and the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard.

By contrast, the US president Barack Obama earns £256,000, Nicolas Sarkozy of France £194,000, the German chancellor Angela Merkel £190,000, and David Cameron struggles by on £143,000.

During last year's elections, opposition parties had criticised ministerial salaries and compared them with the problems being faced by ordinary citizens. After his victory – by the narrowest margin yet – Mr Lee said the matter would be looked into.

He conceded that many people had concerns about the salaries of their political leaders. "Politics is not a job or a career promotion," he reportedly said. "It is a calling to serve the larger good of Singapore."