From ‘Pay not a primary factor for PAP team: Chan Chun Sing’, 16 Jan 2012, article by Monica Kotwani, Channel News Asia.
…On whether a possible pay cut in ministerial pay after the salary review would make ministers less motivated, Mr Chan related his own experience. He said: “I don’t think anyone of them comes here for the money. They come here to provide a better life for the next generation… One of the reasons why I stepped forward was because I know I’m joining a team of people that are not here for the money.”
He added that the key is to find the right balance. He said: “Money should not be the one (factor) to attract them in. On the other hand, money should also not be the bugbear to deter them.
“(For example,) you go to Peach Garden, you eat the S$10 XO Sauce chye tow kuay (fried carrot cake), you can be quite happy right? Because you are satisfied with the service and so on. On the other hand, you can go to a hawker centre, even if they charge you S$1.50, you might not want to eat it if the quality is not good.”
Ministers should never give speeches just before lunchtime. I have no idea how making a choice to eat cheap or expensive carrot cake has anything to do with ministerial pay. MG Chan is making the assumption here that paying $10 for XO carrot cake is necessarily money well spent, and that eating an otherwise hawker staple in a fancy restaurant ‘makes us happy’. Purists of the Chai Tau Kway hawker school would beg to differ; I wouldn’t spend $10 on carrot cake in Peach Garden, excellent service and free towelettes notwithstanding. Perhaps MG Chan was making a point that his ‘Peach Garden’ colleagues are value for money and worth every cent, though this concept veers dangerously close to Goh Chok Tong’s ‘peanuts for monkeys’ analogy back in 1993.
If we do not pay Ministers adequately ($10 Chai Tau Kway at Peach Garden), we will get inadequate Ministers. If you pay ($1.50) peanuts, you will get monkeys for your Ministers (hawker center standard Chai Tau Kway). The people will suffer, not the monkeys.
This is a classic example of politicians using working-class comfort foods as analogies willy-nilly, from style of government to pay matters and foreign talent, often ending up with unintended consequences. The originator of ‘peanuts’ himself, Emeritus Goh Chok Tong, used ‘chilli crab’ to refer to the quality of politicians contesting the GE in 2011 in the midst of election boundaries being redrawn.
‘If there’s a stall which sells chilli crab that is very well-known, no matter where the chilli crab stall is located, people will flock to eat (at) the chilli crab stall… So you’ve got a good candidate, you’ve got a good party, people will vote for them.’
If chilli crab is too pricey for your taste, you may want to settle for roti prata, which you can still get for less than $1.50 these days. Probably one of Lim Swee Say’s all-time favourite local dishes, as suggested in his 2008 speech on inflation.
‘We need to ensure there is economic growth, job creation and that Singaporeans are trained to get the jobs…The most important thing is that a person has a job so he can pay 70 cents for the roti prata, and the Government and unions help pay for the extra 10 cents.’
Foreign talent does not just help to enlarge our economic pie but also make our pie tastier and more diverse in flavour. They introduce the croissant to supplement our roti prata.
I thought we had Delifrance long before we lapsed into a foreign worker addiction. Such sleazy analogies, but perhaps not too far off the truth. Speaking of spicy, laksa was used as a cross-Straits, goodwill analogy by Minister of State David Lim in 2001 as an example of how Singapore and Malaysia are in fact ‘the same, yet different’. The difference is that the Penang version made it to the top rankings of the world’s most delicious foods last year but our laksa did not.
One example of an unfortunate use of food analogy was George Yeo’s ‘Kuay Teow Hot and Nice’ campaign during the last GE, which was in fact a well-meaning but torturous acronym of sorts:
K for Kampong spirit, U for Upgrading, A for Ageing well, Y for Young families, T for Transportation, E for Eating and shopping, O for Our heritage and W for WIFI.
No sane voter would memorise what KUAYTEOW stands for, unless, on hindsight, it means ‘Kicked U Anyway, You’re Too Easy, Opposition Won’. Char Kuay Teow, of course, is the quintessential ‘welcome home’ dish that everyone likes to claim they miss the most when they’re away for home, the culinary equivalent of kissing the ground upon stepping back on the motherland. I’m sure George Yeo still has some hot and nice feelings for his ‘Char Kuay Teow’, Aljunied GRC.
Not all food analogies were delivered with such steamy affection. ‘Rojak’, for example, has been used condescendingly by politicians as an analogy for garbled government with too many opposition members. And of course, there’s this.