By: Chua Chin Leng
I wanted to take a dig at Donald Trump and his appointees for diminishing their dignity by accepting incredibly low monetary rewards when they take up their posts on 20 Jan 17. Trump has declined his presidential salary which understandably is worth less than a peanut and instead opt to take a token pay of US$1.
Some may find this action stupid, demeaning and insulting the great office of the Presidency of the USA. How can the responsibility and power of the highest and most important office in the world be worth US$1, or how could Donald Trump be worth US$1? He is worth even less than our cleaners.
What kind of dignity is he going to garner, what kind of respect is he going to get when he met up with other heads of state and govt or with business leaders that earn in the millions? would Trump feel undignified, ashamed of his low pay, a meagre US$1? I am so tempted to buy him kopi if he visits Singapore. Poor chap, how could he afford Starbucks?
And his team of cabinet secretaries are mostly billionaires and multimillionaires. Take the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson who has accepted the post of Secretary of State, our equivalent of Foreign Minister. Tillerson is being paid tens of milllions by Exxon but would suffer a huge pay cut in his new appointment, maybe getting something less than US$200k!
He is just as insane as Trump to give up his millions, like all the other milllionaire appointees, to become political leaders. Why would these men and women willingly and honourably accept such a huge pay cut without claiming how much they have to sacrifice for the country? And they would have to face greater challenges in their new jobs, one of which is how to adjust their lifestyle with so little pay, how their family members would have to suffer for their bad decisions.
The only answer that I can think of is the silly concept of honour. These men and women are going to serve their country and see that as a great honour that is worth more than anything in monetary terms. Honour is priceless, even if they have to lose a lot of dignity for have a low pay. Yes, honour to some people may be just a useless aspiration that would not bring food on the table. But to these men and women, honour is everything they live for. They would not be caught talking foolishly about how great a sacrifice they have made for the loss of their income, ie money.
Honour cannot be measured by money alone. Honour is simply honour, priceless. It is something that either you have it or you don’t. Which is more important, priceless honour or dignity that can be bought by money?
Shall I say dignity is more important than honour?