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Pay issue over charity, religious heads: So what's new?
I REFER to the reports on March 30, "$500,000 pay for New Creation Church leader" and "Medical charities the best paymasters".
In the present bleak economic climate when belt-tightening is the general rule, these emoluments are likely to appear excessively high and stoke the politics of envy.
The letters, "Idealism v pragmatism" (April 1) and "Altruism comes first, not pay" (April 4), criticise the large take-home salaries of charity and religious heads as some amount of self-sacrifice in income is normally expected, at least in the area of religion.
I am afraid both writers, despite their good intentions, may have forgotten that, in Singapore, the culture that has evolved is that respect and/or prestige are in direct proportion to earnings and wealth.
In the mid-1990s, it became official policy that pay in the public sector should be comparable to that in the private sector to attract talent.
But the numerous cited examples of individuals who have in fact opted for social service work go a long way towards showing that there are indeed Singaporeans who are prepared to make meaningful sacrifices in their income.
The opinion that "it may be hard for them to continue to work in the charity sector despite their passion and enthusiasm if they are not paid well enough" merely reflects a more "money-minded" attitude.
The $500,000 paid to the New Creation Church chief has been defended on the grounds that "he is the key man responsible for bringing in about 95 per cent of the church's income".
This calls to mind the furore in the 1980s when it was brought to public notice that professional fund-raisers were being rewarded with up to 30 per cent for their efforts in collecting money for public charities.
The more pragmatic attitude of "quid pro quo" or more simply "what's in it for me?" had already then replaced any ideals of altruism.
More than 25 years on, it does not look as if much has changed.