In its latest annual report, it was revealed that Singtel paid its CEO, Chua Sock Koong 5.7 million Singapore dollars. 5.7 millions Singapore dollars! That’s the stuff of dreams for many Singaporeans. The average Singaporean probably won’t make that in his/her lifetime.

What is interesting though, is the comments from some quarters of the net. Take this bit from the The Online Citizen- one of the supposedly more sensible socio-political sites in the local web scene (full article here):

In its latest Annual Report published on Monday, Singtel disclosed that its Group CEO, Chua Sock Koong, was paid S$5.7 million in the last financial year.

This consists of S$3.83 million variable bonus and a salary of S$1.68 million.

Her current salary is an increase of S$1 million over the previous year’s.

The news was greeted with disbelief in some quarters, with questions being raised about the appropriateness of the remuneration package.

Now, I have absolutely no idea what a socio-political commentary site has to do with the corporate world but perhaps it was looking for responses like these:

comment 1

sample of comments from said site

comment 2

Some more comments from said site

comment 3

More of…you get the drift…

I know that some people have a beef with the ruling party (I’m not a fan either) but it’s shocking how some people can link the pay of the CEO of a publicly-listed company to the ruling government of the day.

With regards to CEO pay, the most concerned parties should be the shareholders of the company. If the CEO is getting too much money, then the shareholders have every right to question the board on their decision to approve of that amount of salary being disbursed.

Of course, how much is too much? The article sort of tried to answer that question by listing down the CEO’s pay vis-a-vis the profit earned for the year but that is a really crude and terrible measure of whether the CEO deserved to be paid that amount. Thing is, should that question be answered by a social commentary site? Obviously not.

If one is a shareholder and truly thinks that said CEO has been overpaid, by all means, raise it during the Annual General Meeting or on some platform that is appropriate. If all else fails, as a shareholder, you can always sell your shares and walk away. No sense in holding on to an investment if you think it’s going to sink.

Some people may think that they have the right to criticise because the companies mentioned in the article has performed less than expected but these people are quite mistaken. As a customer, the thing you should be doing is to vote with your feet. If you think the service is bad, then find another company to provide you with the service. In Singapore, there are two other telcos you can turn to for mobile service. If it’s broadband you want, you have at least 4 other companies. How much the CEO is getting paid is, to put it bluntly, none of your business.

Now, I know the article also mentioned SMRT’s CEO and this is probably what the article was aiming at because public transportation in Singapore is a hot topic. Furthermore, unlike the telcos, one doesn’t have much of a choice to take a comparable form of alternative transport.

However, if you need to blame someone for his pay, once again, you should be blaming the board for approving it and not the government. It’s 2015 people, time to stop thinking that everything is owned the government.

What are we? Communist now?