What if it was Prime Minister David Saul Marshall?

Growing up in the 60s and 70s, I was not given much of an opportunity (not that I cared then), to really find out about the history of Singapore before Independence in 1965. Many names were mentioned – Dominic Puthucheary, Ong Eng Guan, Lim Chin Siong, Fong Swee Suan, Sidney Woodhull, Jamit Singh and ST Bani. Most of them were mentioned by Dad when he would talk about how they were oppressed and eventually ousted by Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP. I was not entirely sure that when Dad spoke about them, whether he spoke because he had met them or known them.  It is unlikely that was the case, it was probably more from the events that surrounded their “falling from grace”.

The other name that used to come up was David Saul Marshall, or more than often, just David Marshall. Again, I never spent time trying to find out about his, except that he was Singapore’s very first Chief Minister and helped lead discussions with the British for independence in the 1950s. I think there is a lot to be thankful to David Marshall that even I, today in 2011, don’t do.  From all the accounts of encounters with him, I hear only good things.  That he was a person of high integrity and brilliant eloquence (which I am sure helped him in his law career).

I know I can only do this as a mental exercise: What if David Saul Marshall was the first Prime Minister of Singapore and not Lee Kuan Yew? Would Singapore be where it is today in terms of economy, etc at the expense of a credible democracy? I can’t tell.  I am sure that in an Einsteinian parallel universe, that is indeed the case and I would certainly want to find out how that Singapore looks like and feels like to live in.

But coming back to the reality I know, I am particularly delighted that there is on record a great interview done by Dharmendra Yadav of  David Marshall in 1994.

Let me quote a few very poignant statements from that interview:

“I am frankly terrified by this massive control of the mass media, the press, the radio, television, antennae, [and] public meetings. You can’t write a letter to the Straits Times; if there is a shadow of criticism, it’s not published. And the Chinese press follows suit. It’s a very dangerous position because experience proves that no one group of human beings has got all the wisdom in the world.”

In 2011, we are not dependent on the controlled MSM for anything. As citizens of this country and thanks to the Internet, we are able to seek out and find the truth and compare and contrast the version of truth the MSM puts out. Almost 20 years ago, David Marshall was warning of the danger of continuing to hand the right to rule this nation to one group repeatedly. His warning is still very relevant as we head into the 2011 hustings.

Another quote I particularly want any PAP MP reading this blog to re-read:

“You know $96,000 a month for a Prime Minister and $60,000 a month for a minister. What the hell do you do with all that money? You can’t eat it! What do you do with it? Your children don’t need all that money.”


“I never earned $60,000 a month or $90,000 a month. When I was Chief Minister, I earned $8,000 a month. Look, what is happening today is we are encouraged to and are becoming worshippers of the Golden Calf.

We have lost sight of the joy and excitement of public service, helping our fellow men. The joy and excitement of seeking and understanding of the joy of the miracle of the living the duty and the grandeur. We have lost taste for heroic action in the service of our people.”

Updating this to 2011 numbers, the Prime Minister today earns about S$3,870,000 per year (I am sure this is no longer correct – it was from 2008). That translates to S$322,500 per month, S$10,750 per day, S$447 per hour. Based on David Marshall’s quote above, the current Prime Minister earns in one day more than what David Marshall earned in a month (granted, the number is not adjusted for inflation etc).

These PAP ministers do not seem to have any form of shame or second thoughts about getting those kinds of salaries which are all taxpayer-funded.

Let’s look at what the current PM had to say at a talk he gave at the NUS on Tuesday, April 5, 2011. He tried to defend his excessive salary and when questioned about why President Obama makes less than a Singapore minister. His excuse was so lame and inane that I will just summarize it here – that.since US presidents after retirement get to make millions in speaking tours and books, it is OK for them to make less while in office! DUH!

My fellow citizens. Can we continue to let this fiasco continue for another five years? Or should we put a stop to this? We do not have to go the path of Egypt and Tunisia, but if this self-serving mindset continues, we just might have to do it in 5 to 10 years. I don’t want that. I love my country too much to want to sit idle by.


  1. As a collective whole, we handed power to the PAP time and again, and this allows them free run of parliament and public policies. We collectively, effectively, have decided to pay our ministers 7-figure annual salaries.

  2. Thanks, David Saul Marshall for willing to sacrifice for us and our country. We all thank you and your hard work. GOOD JOB!!!

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