World’s highest paid leaders and their economies

Joseph Nye mentions Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his book, The Powers to Lead. He writes:

Setting the right example is another crucial form of communication for leaders. Anticipating a sceptical public reaction when Singapore raised the salaries of government officials in 2007, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that he would forgo the raise for himself.

I read that on the day the Straits Times reported how the Prime Minister had praised the people for their resilience during the recession.

While the government protected jobs by helping employers pay their workers, those looking for work had accepted whatever they could find.

And that, he said, had kept unemployment low — only 2.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Thailand's was even lower, at 1.8 per cent during the second quarter of last year, according to the International Labour Organization. (It did not give later figures for Thailand.) Workers who had lost their jobs in Thailand, Indonesia and much of Southeast Asia were starting their own little businesses in the informal sector, said the ILO's Global Employment Trends report.

But in Singapore the job supply increased.

More people were working by the end of last year than at any other time in the past decade, I noted last Friday when the Ministry of Manpower released its fourth quarter estimate.

So how has the Singapore government done compared with others if leaders are evaluated like workers — with performance indexed to pay?

Let's look at the world's 10 highest paid leaders and see how their economies have performed.


As you can see from the table, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is the only one who can say he has kept his economy from shrinking.

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GDP, GNP, good years and bad

Talk about moving the goal posts. With the Singapore economy likely to grow slower than before, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wants the country's economic performance to be judged not only by the gross domestic product but also by Singapore companies' overseas investments.

"We have to look at multiple indexes," he said. "I don't think you can look at just one. GDP will remain important, but perhaps we should look at GNP together with it."

While GDP or the gross domestic product is the income earned inside a country, GNP or the gross national product includes projects and investments abroad whose benefits flow back to Singapore, he said, reports the Business Times.

"If we focus only on developments within Singapore, we are physically constrained. There are limits to our space and manpower," he said.

He is right.

The only problem is the GDP is the standard measure of economic performance. The World Trade Organization lists a country's GDP, not GNP.

Here is Singapore's economic performance over the past nine years compared with its neighbours and a few other East Asian countries.


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Singapore & the Economist: After the sentence cut

One sentence stuck in my mind from journalist Ben Bland's article in the Guardian after his working visa was not renewed by the Singapore government.

In the article, Ejected from Singapore, he wrote:

One senior editor at a major international newspaper in Asia admitted that he line-edits every single story about Singapore for fear of upsetting the powers-that-be.

Maybe the editor has a longer memory than most of us.

For the Economist magazine got into trouble after cutting just one sentence from a letter written by the then Singapore High Commissioner in London, Abdul Aziz Mahmood, to fit in another letter by the opposition politician, JB Jeyaretnam.

Yes, that's what it says in a Columbia University Journalism School case study of Singapore and the media.

It looks at how Time got into trouble in 1986, the Asian Wall Street Journal in 1987, Asiaweek in 1987, the Far Eastern Economic Review in 1987, the International Herald Tribune in 1994, Bloomberg News in 2002 and the Far Eastern Economic Review again in 2006.

But the Economist case seems most interesting because it started with just one sentence being edited out of a letter. Editors had better be careful!

The case involved prominent figures: Patrick Daniel, who is now editor-in-chief of the English and Malay Newspapers Division of Singapore Press Holdings, and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, now the Finance Minister of Singapore.

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World’s top 100 business schools: The Economist

Singapore has three of the world's top 100 business schools and so does Hong Kong, according to The Economist.

INSEAD, which has campuses in both France and Singapore, is ranked 23rd. Singapore's Nanyang Technological University's Nanyang Business School is 71st and National University of Singapore's NUS Business School is 89th.

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's School of Business and Management is ranked 30th, University of Hong Kong's Faculty of Business and Economics is 38th and Chinese University of Hong Kong is 78th.

Australia has four business schools in the top 100: University of Melbourne's Melbourne Business School (17th), Macquarie Graduate School of Management (55th) Monash University (59th) and Curtin University Graduate School of Business (93rd).

The Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad) is ranked 99th.

The Economist rankings are possibly more useful than the Times Higher Education-QS university rankings for two reasons:

  • The THE-QS university rankings boost the rankings of some universities such as the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University by including  categories like "international student score" and "international faculty score" in which they get 100 out of 100 and which have nothing to do with academics. In fact, they do worse than lower ranked universities in their "citations score" for quality of research, as I mentioned in an earlier post.
  • The Economist rankings, on the other hand, are based on criteria directly related to education and job prospects. The business schools are evaluated on four counts:
  1. Open new career opportunities
  2. Personal development and work experience
  3. Increase salary
  4. Potential to network

The Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad), for example, is ranked fourth in opening new career opportunities. Monash University is ranked first in personal development and work experience. Two Hong Kong business schools are also ranked in the top 10 in that category: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's School of Business and Management is third and University of Hong Kong's Faculty of Business and Economics eighth.

Here are the top 100 business schools as ranked by The Economist:

1 IESE Business School – University of Navarra Spain

2 IMD – International Institute for Management Development Switzerland

3 California at Berkeley, University of – Haas School of Business United States

4 Chicago, University of – Booth School of Business United States

5 Harvard Business School United States

6 Dartmouth College – Tuck School of Business United States

7 Stanford Graduate School of Business United States

8 London Business School Britain

9 Pennsylvania, University of – Wharton School United States

10 Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School Belgium

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