While $20 for 100 Hours of Work Is “Peanuts” Even for an Impoverished Foreign Domestic Worker, $100 Million Might Be Peanuts for Natural Aristocrats Like Ho Ching
During Ms Liyani’s appeal the Public Prosecutor tried to rebut the defence’s claims that she had been coerced into working outside the home and that her refusal to do so and threat to report the Liews to Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for illegal deployment, had led to her termination and to Mr Liew and his son filing a police report against her, a claim that Justice Chan accepted. They argued that she was paid for the work and when asked by Justice Chan how much, said $20 to $30. However when asked by the judge as to whether this was the amount paid on each occasion the Prosecutor was evasive, saying that this was for “the service in question”. Justice Chan then pointed out that the number of hours worked was decisive: “$20 to perform 100 hours of work is peanuts”.
Usage of the word “peanuts” immediately brought back memories of Mrs Goh Chok Tong’s use of the word “peanuts” to describe the approximately $600,000 in salary and bonus that TT Durai, the disgraced and convicted former head of the National Kidney Foundation, was being paid as head of the National Kidney Foundation. The full text of what she said was “for a person who runs a big million-dollar charitable organisation, with a few hundred million in reserves, S$600,000 a year is peanuts.“
I wrote in my last blog, about the Liews and their abuse of Ms Liyani, that Mr Liew’s remuneration of $20.5 million in a single year (2007), about 0.75% of CapitaLand’s profits that year, showed that, using a similar percentage applied to Temasek’s profits of $12 to $13 billion p.a., it would not be unreasonable to think that Ho Ching earns $100 million or more a year. This curiously is the figure that the Taiwanese news network mentioned. This prompted a rapid-fire barrage of Correction Notices issued by DPM Heng under the notorious Protection from Online Falsehood and Manipulation Act (which primarily serves to protect Ministers and their spouses or cronies) and a rebuttal by the Government fact checking website Factually.sg that did not mention any facts, which I wrote about here. Applying Mrs Goh’s justification for Durai’s salary based on a few hundred million dollars in reserves would allow Ho Ching to pay herself up to $600 million a year with the agreement of a Board many of whose members are dependent in one way or another on her husband, the PM, or would wish to curry favour with him.
Everything is relative. While even for a poor FDW, being forced to work 100 hours for $20 to $20 would be peanuts, for people like the Liews and his boss, the PM’s wife, even $10 or a $100 million a year might be considered peanuts. As I said in my last blog, the revelations about the ruthless way in which the Liews ruined the life of a vulnerable person, because she posed a minor threat to them, should hold up a mirror for Singaporeans illustrating the way in which the PAP’s natural aristocrats crush all opposition that might come between them and using their absolute power to pay themselves, their spouses and their relatives obscene and unjustified amounts. In Ho Ching’s case this is all the more egregious because of her and her husband’s determination not to tell us what she earns. SIngaporeans need to stop putting themselves in the position of “vulnerable persons” and to start to assert their rights.