[Viewpoint]Another Lee who knows how to leadOne of the highest-paid leaders in the world is neither the American president nor the Japanese prime minister. He is the prime minister of the Republic of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong. His annual salary will climb to 3.1 million Singaporean dollars ($2.2 million) this year, a 55 percent increase. That is more than five times as much as the American president, who receives an annual salary of about $440,000, and six times as much as the Japanese prime minister, whose salary is upwards of $360,000. The president of Korea has an annual salary of 240 million won or about $260,000 per year.
Lee Hsien Loong announced he will donate the total increase in his salary to charity for the next five years, taking into consideration the public’s belief that he is earning a huge amount of money. However, what’s the big deal about earning a large income?
The Singaporeans seem to have a consensus on the matter, saying they would not mind if his annual salary doubled or increased by 10 times. They just hope he continues to do a good job.
Lee Hsien Loong succeeded the former prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, in August 2004. He was born in 1952, so he is only 56. He is still a vigorous young man. He graduated with honors from the Department of Mathematics at Cambridge University. He is a top elite, who studied public administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University.
He successfully built his career in public service by serving as a six-term lawmaker, chairman of the monetary authority, finance minister and deputy prime minister.
He is the son of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. Because of this, when Lee Hsien Loong became the third prime minister, he was criticized for the father-to-son power succession.
Lee Hsien Loong, an out-and-out pragmatist, dispensed with that criticism by making Singapore more prosperous than ever.
Lee maintains that if Singapore wants to achieve huge successes, the first and foremost thing that people need to do is have strong pride in their country.
Singapore has a short history and a small population, where three races ― Chinese, Malaysian and Indian -- co-exist. Their strong pride can come out of the firm belief that Singapore will continue to succeed in the global arena. And the government should devote itself to encouraging people to bring up their children as members of Singaporean society
Lee emphasizes that people should always be “outstanding” to fulfill Singapore’s development goals. He also asks people to “think outside the box.” That is the only key to success in this era of rampant uncertainty.
Lee is a leader who is well aware that we can pave the way to a brighter future by creating a whole new pattern of thinking.
He asserts that today’s solutions can not resolve tomorrow’s problems. Therefore, people should take risks and bolder approaches from a totally new perspective, which will greatly contribute toward the opening of new chapters in our history. He is sure that it will serve as the true growth engine to make a difference in the future.
Like Lee Hsien Loong, President-elect Lee Myung-bak should lift people’s confidence in the fact that Korea is headed for continuous prosperity.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Korea. We need to be poised to open a new era of national success.
In addition, the government should spare no efforts to help people who want to raise their children in Korea.
Impending issues in education and employment should be approached from such a perspective.
President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s new vision is similar to that of Lee Hsien Loong.
Lee Myung-bak will try hard to share his strong confidence that Korea will continue to develop and grow in this era of uncertainty, so people should not be afraid to “think outside the box.”
Now, the question is how he can share the core values of his new vision with his people.
It’s possible that unnecessary disputes over government reform and the grand canal will disappear.
In other words, the key to the success of the incoming Lee Myung-bak administration depends upon the degree of consensus he is able to garner among Korean citizens about his vision.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong