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.