At a recent Parliament session, Indranee Rajah, a senior minister of state said “We should be grateful that a person of such standing has agreed to dedicate himself to the public cause” in reference to Ex-MP MP Hri Kumar Nair’s appointment as deputy Attorney General. Her reasons on why we should be grateful included citing how he took up the job “despite the considerable personal and financial cost to him” and that he “earns significantly less than what he used to earn”.
She had said this in response to Workers’ Party MP Sylvia Lim comment that filling a constitutional post with a party politician is not ideal as the appointment “carries a risk of undermining public confidence in the AGC’s stated mission of fair and independent prosecutions, and it is a risk that is best avoided”.
Veteran lawyer Hri Kumar Nair, known for his vociferous comments on the opposition when he was a PAP MP, is the first former politician appointed as DAG.
My post here is not about Hri but about Indranee’s patronising response. It is irksome as it is not the first time PAP leaders (and their fervent supporters) have told us we should be GRATEFUL to them for making “sacrifices” when they take up a top dog government job. Saying this simply reflects their elitist and calculative mindset.
Like everyone, we make a career choice after weighing the pros and cons. Everyone of us forego something when we let go of one job for another. We make the choice, we live with it.We do not tell those who benefit from our employment to be grateful no matter how taxing that job is.
The poorly paid elderly aunty and uncle cleaning public toilets do not ask for gratitude so why should those in high-flying jobs?
Fact is those in high-flying jobs like Ministers and top guns in government posts have many benefits including high pay, power (lots of it), fame, recognition and access to a vast network of who’s who in business and politics. What then is their sacrifice when weighed against what they gain?
Sure, some may lose a bit in pay when they move from private to public sector (but how many of such people are there?) and they may lose some privacy being a public figure. Here, we have to ask them about their intrinsic motivation which is supposed to give greater satisfaction than tangibles like money. Are they not getting heaps of satisfaction by doing a job of their choice? It’s not like they were coerced into it.
Do teachers tell their students to grateful?
Do doctors and nurses tell their patients to be grateful?
Did Obama tell his people to be grateful when he was President?
Respect has to be earned, Gratitude has to be heartfelt. Both cannot be demanded.
So, can PAP please stop telling us to be grateful? We will let you know when we are.