High ministerial salaries is one of the hottest topics in Singaporean kopitiam talk. The millions that entry-level ministers make a year is certainly high – but just how much can our best-paid politicians make?
Well, we’ve collated information from a few sources, and present to you, as accurately as possible*, the top 10 richest politicians in Singapore – 2018.
10. George Yeo – Net Worth: S$28.6 million
Well, technically he isn’t a Singaporean politician anymore, after losing to Worker’s Party Low Thia Khiang Aljunied GRC in the 2011 General Election.
However, he did serve as a Member of Parliament from 3 September 1988 to 7 May 2011, and as our Minister for Foreign Affairs for almost 7 years.
Since resigning from politics, Yeo had a stint at Nalanda University from 2011 to 2016 as a chancellor and member of governing board.
He is currently the chairman and executive director of Kerry Logistics Network, director of Kerry Holdings, and non-executive director of Wilmar International as well as AIA Group.
9. Charles Chong – Net Worth: S$30.0 million
Charles Chong is a Member of Parliament representing Punggol East SMC, and serves as the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, to Tan Chuan Jin who is the current Speaker.
Chong is relatively lower-profile compared to the rest on this list, his most notable moment in recent memory probably when he won Punggol East SMC back from the Worker’s Party in 2015 with 51.76% of the vote.
His high net worth isn’t from any fanciful board or director positions, but likely simply because he has been an MP for very long. At 64 years of age, he is the longest serving current PAP back-bencher in Parliament.
8. Vivian Balakrishnan – Net Worth: S$34.2 million
Vivian Balakrishnan is our current Minister of Foreign Affairs, and has helmed the Ministry since 1 October 2015.
Previously, he had held the posts of Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
In addition, he is also in charge of the Smart Nation Programme, which aims to keep Singapore abreast of latest technological developments.
At 56 years of age, he looks quite a bit younger than his actual age. However, he has been serving as a Minister for a long time, which explains his place on this list.
7. Low Yen Ling – Net Worth: S$40.8 million
Our first female minister on this list, Low Yen Ling is the Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Education, a post she has held since 1 May 2017.
Prior to the posting, she also held posts of Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), as well as Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the
Ministry of Trade and Industry.
At 43 years of age, her net worth might have come from endeavours prior to her political career.
She handled commercial lending accounts at Keppel Tat-Lee Bank and subsequently United Overseas Bank from 1996 to 2000 and was a business development manager with a start-up AutoHub Pte Ltd.
6. Chiam See Tong – Net Worth: S$48.7 million
It’s nice to see an opposition minister also on this list.
At 82 years of age, Chiam See Tong held the title as the longest serving opposition Member of Parliament of Potong Pasir SMC from 1984 to 2011.
He only recently ceded the title to Worker’s Party Low Thia Khiang, who has just passed the 27th year mark of service as an Opposition MP this year.
Chiam was the founding leader of the Singapore Democratic Party, as well as the Singapore People’s Party.
5. Grace Fu – Net Worth: S$64.5 million
The only other female politician on this list, Grace Fu is the current Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, a role she has held since 1 October 2015.
She is only the second female full Minister since Lee Hwee Hua, who retired from politics in 2011, making Fu the only female full Minister currently.
Fu began her career with Overseas Union Bank (OUB) as an auditor from 1985 to 1988., before joining the Haw Par Group from 1991 to 1995.
She later joined the PSA Corporation in 1995 as an Assistant Director (Finance), where she took on multiple responsibilities, eventually promoting to become the CEO of PSA South-East Asia and Japan.
By the time she was elected into Parliament in 2006, she had probably amassed a sizable fortune already, and likely took a ‘pay-cut’ when she entered politics. (But that’s just speculation.)
4. Goh Chok Tong – Net Worth: S$81.2 million
Perhaps most Singaporeans will be able to predict who the top four richest politicians are.
Goh Chok Tong served as our second Prime Minister from 1990 to 2004, taking on perhaps one of the most difficult tasks politically – succeeding Lee Kuan Yew.
Still, Singapore prospered economically under him, and got through the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, as well as the 2002-03 SARS outbreak.
Currently, he is simply “watching things happen” from the sidelines, in the words of our current Prime Minister.
He still holds the honorary title of “Emeritus Senior Minister”, and continues serving as an MP for Marine Parade GRC.
3. Tharman Shanmugaratnam – Net Worth: S$88.1 million
Perhaps Singapore’s current most capable and popular politician, and in our point of view deservedly so, this man has unfortunately ruled himself out of the running for Singapore’s next Prime Minister.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam is currently serving as – wait for it – Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Chairman of the Group of Thirty – a group comprising thirty of the finest policymakers and financial experts in the world.
And, he also stood in for Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat when the latter suffered a stroke that put him out of commission for some time in 2016.
The Minister, who once said that he found work “relaxing”, baffled Singaporeans when he once stated that a monthly income of $1,500 was enough to buy a reasonable sized HDB under government schemes (he proved that it really was possible).
He went on to win Jurong GRC in the 2015 General Elections by 79.28% of the vote, even higher than current PM Lee Hsien Loong.
At 60 years old, he has served in parliament for over 16 years, and has headed 3 Ministries in his service.
2. Teo Chee Hean – Net Worth: S$95.4 million
Our other Deputy Prime Minister, Teo Chee Hean is currently also serving as the Co-ordinating Minister for National Security and Minister-in-charge of the Civil Service.
He also covered duties for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong from 26-31 December 2017 as the Acting Prime Minister.
Serving in Parliament since he left his post as the Chief-of-Navy in 1992, he has also served as the Ministers of the Environment, Education, Defence, and Home Affairs in his 25 year-long political career.
1. Lee Hsien Loong – Net Worth: S$106.2 million
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is Singapore’s third and current PM, and has been our incumbent PM since 3 December 2004.
The eldest son of founding father Lee Kuan Yew, LHL joined politics in 1984, and served as the Ministers of Finance, Trade and Industry, and Deputy Prime Minister prior to his current role.
He is also married to Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek Holdings since 2002, and currently ranked the 28th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
PM Lee Hsien Loong is currently the highest paid world leader globally, despite a 2011 pay cut which reduced his salary to a mere S$2.2 million per year.
*Disclaimer: We do not claim any of the net worths in this post as 100% accurate. It is based on estimated net worths by various sources, as listed below, and could be under/overestimates as individuals’ personal investments and other financial tools they might have used are not factored in.