Friday, December 7, 2007

Glory for Nation or Money?

The 24th SEA Games opened yesterday in Thailand but Singapore has already won 10 of its expected 45 gold medals. Two questions came to my mind: First, do our sportsmen compete for the prize money or for personal and national glory? Second, how should the spirit of sporting excellence be similar to the spirit of public service of ministers?

For the first question, I believe it’s the winning of a gold medal, standing on the podium receiving applauses from the spectators and the singing of Majulah Singapura that matters most. I really don’t think any sportsman would say “I am going to win the Olympic gold medal because I want the $1,000,000 prize money”.

Yes, the prize money is certainly an added incentive but I think nothing beats the nobility and glory of striving for victory with passion and dedication. When Joscelin Yeo won a swim race, I felt I was the winner too because there was this special spiritual “link” between us as I could sense the passion for swimming in her and I knew her primary motive for a swimming career was not money.

So how’s it got to do with the spirit of public service of ministers? Right now, our ministers are fetching about $1.6 million-dollar salary per annum after a ministerial pay hike during April 2007. It is expected to rise to 77% benchmark by year end and 88% by end of 2008. Mr Teo Chee Hean, the Minister-in-charge of the Civil Service has said in a parliamentary statement on civil servant salary revisions:

Officers who work in our ministries and statutory boards must feel a sense of challenge and must believe that individually and collectively, they make a real difference in the lives of Singaporeans. We need to tap on their passion, energy and mobilise them to do their best, and achieve their best – for Singaporeans and for themselves.

His statement is the same as what I have been trying to explain earlier. That is the passion and dedication to strive for personal glory and the glory to serve our country. It is something which money cannot buy. But when the issue of benchmarking ministerial salaries to that of the private sector is brought into view, the government is undermining its moral authority to rule. It makes us wonder: “Do the ministers serve the nation because they want the $1.6 million-dollar prize money and more?

So naturally when the government recently announced a slew of unpopular policies such as GST hikes, many showed their utter displease because when money is placed before passion, the ministers lose that special spiritual "link" which enables them to convince their fellow Singaporeans that the unpopular policies are deemed necessary for the betterment of Singapore.

I think enough is enough. One ministerial pay hike is sufficient. Singaporeans are already unhappy with the rising cost of living and I hope the government does not attempt to break that already delicate bond with us by forcing its way through a 2nd ministerial pay hike.


Anonymous said...

Personally I think they want power, money and namesake. Please prove me wrong.

James Chia said...

To be fair, I think all political parties who are in power want to stay in power forever. As for money, I agree that we should provide them with a reasonable amount of renumeration but it would be way too much if they were to increase it further than the current level. We are already world no. 1 in terms of ministerial salaries.

Anonymous said...

Why are foreign born sports personels representing Singapore and not their own countries?

Do the above have any sense of patriotism, piety and propiety?

The answer is yes if at the end of the day, all the money they made here are send back to their homelands. And the glories they 'gave'(give) Singapore become?

Like foreign investors, they are here to make money; absolutely no wrong in doing so. Just don,t sing the high moral tune.

The local leaders are as mercenary as the foreign sports people representing Singapore. Hope they do not migrate with their fortunes at the end of their careers or pass their fortunes to their descendants to do so.

James Chia said...

When the going gets tough, Zhang Xueling quit our table tennis national team and returned to China. When I heard the news, I was pretty disappointed because Singapore has spent so much money to nurture her and after so many years in Singapore, she still does not treat Singapore as her home. It's a case of glory for money.

Xizor2000 said...

I have always been in the opinion that we do not need to excel in every field. If we aren't good at sports, then so be it.

There's no reason to spend this kind of money to get it. I wonder why is Vivian 'Balek'rishnan upset when Lily Neo pressed him on just what good is a $1 per day increase to the needy.

Yet at the meantime they can spend this kind of money to pay mercenaries for medals, or build a $6 million bicycle park, and give themselves a handsome pay raise. WTH...

Anonymous said...

being good at a sport requires 100% time and effort commitment.

If you want a person to have sport as a full time job, you have to at least provide them with a comfortable living standard.

I don't think anyone can argue with the principle that you must reward people who are at the top of their profession.

In sport. Being the 'top' in some sports, would mean winning the gold medal in Olympics.

Are you saying that when you reach the top in your profession, you should not be rewarded?

Must they live a hard life, just to 'prove' that they're in it for the passion?

Xizor2000 said...

Why should the state pay someone to attain self-actualization?

The state should take care of the well being of all the people as it's primary objective. Self-actualization is a personal matter and if you want to be rewarded for it then earn the money yourself - find a commercial sponsor or something.

andrewong2024 said...

In view that a sportsman faces stiff regional competition in the SEA Games and tough regime in order to be the best in their respective sport, it is justifiable that a nice reward awaits them IF they win the top prize.

However, our ministers do not really have stiff competition to begin with. Where's our local opposition??? Is there regional or global competitors, that threatens our ruling party???

Theirs is a sure win deal not a matter IF they win. So what right do they have to reward themselves richly.

The Blabbering Me said...

i second xizor2000.

It is a simple case of Glory for Money easily illustrated with the following "What If" questions:

-What if there was no prize money for winning a medal?

-What if they need to fork out their own money to represent Singapore?

Do you think these foreign imports will still don the Singapore colours willingly?

I very much doubt so.

Anonymous said...

WTF, whatever glory that is achieved by the foreign imports is plain artificial and meaningless. Basically it's just not what is truly achieved by our OWN countrymen born in our own country. It just make us another laughing stock in the world of sports.

What's difference from saying that the titles were bought just like a "Datukship" that you can pay for with a couple of thousand ringgit in our neighbouring country.

And something that you can buy is not really worth its weight in gold.

Our leaders are just plain VAIN, devoid of any sense of moral achievement.