A few days ago Straits Times' front page featured our PM who said he now faces the challenge of finding the next PM who has to be groomed so that he will be ready to lead 3 elections from now. It is indeed difficult to find good leaders for Singapore. On the right hand corner of the same page was an article about a "ze char" hawker who had to close his stall because he couldn't find cooks for $2000 per month and helpers for $1000. That is the severity of the labour shortage in Singapore we cannot find ministers & hawker helpers ....and we also cannot find our terrorists, one Mas Selamat who has been missing for 38 days. We as a nation have great difficulty finding people. If we cannot find Mas Selamat, we can safely assume that he has become a foreign talent in another country....however if we cannot find good leaders, Singapore is doomed. In the next few paragraphs, I want to explain the difficulty of finding good leaders further.
Where to find the next generation of leaders? Unlike the extensive search for Mas Selamat, the search for our future ministers is actually quite narrowly focussed - if you look at the current batch of ministers, a disproportionate number come from the top echelons of the SAF and others from the civil service - e.g. BG PM Lee, BG George Yeo, Admiral Teo, Admiral Low Tuck ? (Education Minister). Where else to find leadership but the SAF, where leadership is actually a career. Nowhere else can you find leaders who will strongly uphold the rules and defend the status quo. Some of you who have served your NS may be concerned that leadership in an organisation where the rank and file structure means that you're surrounded by more and more people who have to say "yes" (military law)to you as you rise up the hierachy will actually produce leaders who are not suitable for a society with diverse and sometimes dissenting views. Don't worry about that we don't have such a society and dissenting views can be contained to obscurity of the internet. There is no better place to find leaders than among the ex-generals and ex-admirals of the SAF - our outstanding PM Lee himself spent many years in the SAF. However, it was reported that these potential leaders are somewhat reluctant to join politics. Why risk their illustrous careers and well planned retirements (in the GLCs) ? The risks include facing public critcism and losing elections. Take BG George Yeo as an example, despite his experience in the SAF and leadership courage, he had an awful scare in the last election when when a motley bunch of opposition members including one character who couldn't submit a form properly, narrowly lost by a few % points. Had they won, his illustrous career would have been blighted by the loss. I really blame the opposition for this difficulty in finding leaders for our nation. If the opposition does not exist, there would be walkovers and assured victory during elections ...these ex-generals would be more willing to step forward. Just as they can be counted on for victory during war, they can lead our nation to greater heights.
Unlike other countries where democracy means that leadership can emerge from any segment of society, leadership succesion in Singapore has to be carefully and meticulously planned. Our future leaders have to be groomed and spend time to understand the bureaucracy. Carefully selected leadership will help to preserve our system and ensure continuity in policies - policies that ensure that Singaporeans work harder and longer to contribute to Singapore Inc. Our survival depends on good leadership without which Singapore will sink - unlike in other countries if bad leadership emerges, it will be voted out, replaced and the country continues to survive.