Who Earns How much?

People need to have certain income source to support his own living and the one of his family. In some countries, the salary and other benefits (housing and transport allowances, DSA etc.) of their leaders are clear and transparent to the public. According to the recent report of MoneySmart, the top seven leaders (President or Prime Minister) are listed below. It shows that the Prime Minister of Singapore earns the highest in term of salary, despite the fact that Singapore is a small city-state (as big as Phnom Penh now) and has a population of about 5 million. Barak Obama ranked third on the list, though he needs to take responsibility of 314 million and a lot larger country of 10 million Km². To justify the high salary of the Prime Minister, Ministers and other civil servants in Singapore is the strict measures to cope with corruption. Corrupt practices in this country may face harsh punishment and it earns a clean reputation. GDP per capita, above U$ 50,000; is one of the highest in ASEAN. The Senior Lee has built up Singapore from a third world country in 1965 to a first world country in just three decades.

Salary of Top Seven World Leaders

N Name Country Salary in S$ (1U$=1.24S$) Size (Km²) Population (million)
1 Lee Hsien Long Singapore 2.2 million 710 5.1
2 Donald Xang Hong  Kong 642,173 1,100 7
3 Barak Obama USA 500,720 9.8 million 314
4 Michael D. Higgins Ireland 404,950 84,000 4.5
5 Uhuru Kenyatta Kenya 390,561 580,000 41.6
6 Stephen Harper Canada 387,351 10 million 34.4
7 Francois Holland France 291,680 675,000 65

(Source: MoneySmart, 21.03.13; quoted in Kampuchea Thmei, 23.03.13, p. C1)

PM Hun Sen presided over a conference in Peace Palace Phnom Penh

PM Hun Sen presided over a conference in Peace Palace Phnom Penh

In Cambodia however, the Prime Minister has an official salary of slightly over U$ 1,000. The Minister earn around U$ 500 and State Secretary about U$ 300. But, if we observe how these people live and spent, I think their salary is just peanuts. They live in luxurious villas, owns fleet of modern cars, own precious land, is able to send all their children studying abroad, is delivering gifts and presents to their supporters whenever they visit their constituencies, building thousand of schools bearing own names, going for medical check-up and shopping in foreign countries etc, etc.

Parking lot next to the Council of Minister's Building: Friendship Palace

Parking lot next to the Council of Minister’s Building: Friendship Palace. Photo taken from a window of the Peace Palace.

16022011568We can see also that during a cabinet meeting in Phnom Penh, the parking lot inside the compound of the Council of Ministers is turned to be a garage of brand new Lexus, Land Cruiser, Range Rover and all kinds of modern cars. Just in front of the building of the Council of Ministers, there is sale stands for those expensive and luxurious cars. Those car dealers know quite well, who their target groups are. And Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in ASEAN, if not in the world. We are also an Aid dependent country. GDP per capita is about U$1,000. According to government’s statistics, 20% of the population is still living with less than U$ 0.50 per day. Are these high ranking officials smarter than ordinary Cambodians? I still have my doubt. The fact that they have power to abuse power and to enrich themselves, YES.


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