Furore over minister's pay-cut post

Senior Minister of State Grace Fu has said that a post she made on Facebook on the recommended ministerial pay cuts "could have been misunderstood".

In the Facebook post made on Wednesday, she said that pay was not a key factor in her decision to join politics in 2006. Instead, her considerations were "loss of privacy, public scrutiny of myself and my family and loss of personal time" and a "disruption to my career".

She went on to say: "I had some grounds to believe that my family would not suffer a drastic change in the standard of living even though I experienced a drop in my income. So it is with this recent pay cut.

"If the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for anyone considering political office."

Yesterday, Ms Fu, who serves in the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts as well as the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, clarified her stance in another post on Facebook.

She said: "I realise my last post could have been misunderstood. The committee has done a thorough job, with a substantial recommendation over a fairly emotive topic. I accept and respect the recommendations.

"I am honoured to be given the opportunity to serve the people.

However, it may not be wise to call for the trade-offs to be tilted further, to an extent that it dissuades good people from coming forward in future."

Both posts have drawn a slew of comments - some supportive but many critical - from netizens.

One netizen wrote: "Will her ability to carry out her duties be affected by her strong feelings towards the pay cut? Will the welfare of the nation and her ward be compromised?"

Ms Fu declined to be interviewed. By press time, comments to her posts numbered more than 800.

When contacted, MPs refused to comment on what Ms Fu had posted online.

However, Mr Hri Kumar Nair, an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, said: "I think it is important for public leaders to communicate their thoughts and views, and they can choose any platform to voice them.

"With any form of communication, there is always a risk of being misinterpreted or misunderstood."

He added that he had no issue with expressing his own views online.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck said: "Social media should be used to share views briefly and, when using it, we have to be ready to interact with the people online.

"A topic like ministerial salaries is a public issue and public views are diverse. There is a need to be careful and airing them through dialogue sessions, which are face-to-face, would be better."

rachchan@sph.com.sg

samboh@sph.com.sg


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