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The Singaporean President of Russia

From the cheeky editors of the FT: The Russian football team has successfully employed a foreign coach because there was no suitable domestic candidate. Why should the Russian state not behave in the same way? The Russians seem to be keen on the smack of firm government, but also want a president who understands business and isn’t too corrupt. The obvious solution is to import a Singaporean. It is interesting that they make this leap of logic – just at the beginning of the month we featured a comparative piece on this blog from Dr. Chee Soon Juan, leader of the Singaporean opposition, whom I had met at an International Bar Association conference. The citizens of both Russia and Singapore suffer from the same damaging myth: that economies grow fastest in the absence of democracy. See the FT piece after the cut.

From the Financial Times:

Import a presidentSuccession planning is tricky in business. It is even worse in politics. Just consider the countries that are currently making a mess of efforts to find a new leader.In Russia, Vladimir Putin has promised to obey the constitution and not seek a third term as president. But he and his supporters are wrestling indecorously with the problem of how to find a suitably pliant successor. In South Africa, enormous political tensions are being generated by Jacob Zuma’s efforts to displace President Thabo Mbeki as the head of the ruling African National Congress. British politics was dominated for years by Gordon Brown’s efforts to dispatch the then prime minister, Tony Blair.Politicians should take a few tips from business. All big companies know that they operate in a global market for talent. If countries learned to think in the same way, many tricky succession problems would be solved.The US obviously stands to benefit most. Why overlook Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for the presidency, simply because he was born in Austria? In the age of globalisation, it is surely time that nations abandoned their primitive preference for their own countrymen as national leader.The Russian football team has successfully employed a foreign coach because there was no suitable domestic candidate. Why should the Russian state not behave in the same way? The Russians seem to be keen on the smack of firm government, but also want a president who understands business and isn’t too corrupt. The obvious solution is to import a Singaporean.The Palestinian national cause has long suffered from dreadful leadership. So the Palestinians should put together an attractive package and tempt Nelson Mandela out of retirement. Another former head-of-state whose services would be eagerly bid for is Bill Clinton. If Nicolas Sarkozy fails to reconcile the French to capitalism, why not give the job to “third way” Bill. Mr Clinton might also find the French attitude to privacy refreshing.