Sunday, October 19, 2008

SM Goh : Planned Leadership Succession make Singapore stable.

Another day, another piece of wisdom from our SM Goh. This time on how planned succession makes Singapore stable. I guess that is why USA the superpower is so unstable - 2 weeks from the presidential elections and we are not quite sure if Obama will win. Why don't they plan it like we do here in Singapore. Our plan and groom succession method gave us PM Lee who happens to be the son of MM Lee by coincidence - so after 40 years of planning and grooming, this is the great leadership we have, the best that is possible. Singapore must be a really complex country to run because other countries several hundred times our size can be governed without such "plan and groom" schemes.

"Trust, like respect, cannot be decreed. It has to be earned. It is this trust of Singaporeans in their government which has enabled us to persuade them to accept some tough, painful but necessary policies and win elections" - SM Goh
"Sir, was that why you were so busy in Hougang and Potong Pasir during the last elections telling voters they will lose out on upgrading if they don't vote PAP? I think the people trust that you will carry out your promise. " - Lucky Tan

So how does one go about selecting the next leader to groom? Selection is done by the existing PM, MM and SM to make sure the person is acceptable to the present leadership. Like what SM Goh said there will be no major policies shifts if when the person is chosen carefully. So this person is chosen to preserve existing policies which are taken to be good and ensure that little is changed in Singapore. The next part is the grooming portion - take the person through the various ministries to make sure he understands fully existing policies so that collective wisdom of the past 40 years of PAP govt sets the boundaries for which minor tweaks can take place. The last part is to market this person to the public - manufacturing great hope of a better future, great hope for change (remember the Remaking Singapore compaign?) and perhaps marketing the chosen one as some kind of marverick needed to energise the country. Of course, the marketing part is just marketing ...a few years down the road and a few crises later you discover his real leadership qualities like we are seeing in this crisis. Shackled by the ideologies of the past and past successes, he responds to change with rigidity.....

"Our attitude towards the press in Singapore is that they are partners in nation-building" - Vivian Balakrishnan

Anyone with doubts about the effectiveness of the grooming needs only to look at Vivian Balakrishnan. Here he is explaining to a Sec 3 student why defamation lawsuits are necessary in Singapore : [Link]. It is clear he has gone through some kind of spectacular transformation from a vocal critic of the PAP govt to its greatest defender - now that is the power of grooming .... assimilating marvaricks into the establishment infecting them with a kind of groupthink and then before you know it they all sing in tune.

You can imagine with 40 years of continuous rule, there are all sorts of relationships, rules, practices and constraints set for those who are part of the establishment and in power. Policy making is not a simple matter of doing what is best for the ordinary people of Singapore. "Best" is lost in a jungle of complexity, ideology and opacity. Succession planning is a strategy to maintain the status quo for as long as possible. It is the surest way to keep much needed change and political progess at bay. 40 years ago we were the freest nation in the region - Philipines was under a dictator called Marcos, Indonesia & Thailand were under military strongmen - ask yourself where these countries are relative to us politically now. SM Goh talks about trust. We will all trust a system that is fully transparent, that can be challenged freely, peacefully and vigorously with a media that relentlessly pursues the truth. There is one word for such a system : DEMOCRACY.

October 18, 2008 22:23 PM
Planned Succession Makes Leadership Transitions In Singapore Stable, Says Chok Tong
By Zakaria Abdul Wahab
SINGAPORE, Oct 18 (Bernama) -- The culture of planned political succession of prime ministers and ministers on the basis of merit has made political transitions in Singapore stable, orderly and predictable, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said Saturday.
He said Singapore had been systematically identifying good men and women with the character, values, drive, motivation and commitment to stand for elections and lead the republic.
This was what distinguished Singapore from other countries, he said after being conferred the University of Pretorias honorary doctorate in business administration at the National University of Singapore, here.
"This is a valuable competitive asset because investors know that government policies will not lurch from right to left, both in the literal and political sense," he said.
Goh also said that Singapore had built up strong institutions to implement public policies effectively, namely the judiciary, the civil service, the police and the media, and the latest was the non-government organisations sector.
The former Singapore prime minister said the efficiency of the bureaucracy alone was not enough to run the government.
He said what was more important was integrity of political leaders, public officials and the value system of the country.
"The tragedy of many developing countries is the curse of corruption coursing through the veins of government and society," Goh said.
He said building trust with the people was absolutely important as the best policies could fail if the people could not accept them or if they distrusted the intentions of the government.
It was best to be upfront with the people, especially if the government were introducing policies which caused pain in the short term but were necessary in the long term, he added.
"Trust, like respect, cannot be decreed. It has to be earned. It is this trust of Singaporeans in their government which has enabled us to persuade them to accept some tough, painful but necessary policies and win elections," Goh said.


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Anonymous said...

Is Singapore a Free Market?

-Just take a look and see what are the bulk of companies that made up the STI?

Is Singapore a Democracy?

-Just ask yourself this question: Who do you think will be the next PM and MM in 15-20 years time.Just take a look too at 3 families who suffered silently. In prison but was never charged.

A flaw in the political process will eventually lead to flaws in economics and law, resulting to en mass suffering.


Economist with a Heart :)

Anonymous said...

S&M Goh is saying


Anonymous said...

Singapore isn't a 'free market'? When did that happen? In fact I would argue Singapore operates within a market economy that is even more liberal than the cowboy capitalism of United States... Hmmm? How many free trade agreement did we sign? Why are we the first (as usual) in recession?

Free to hire and fire without hindrance of unions, free to set the wage level based on the supply of labour, free flow of capital to anywhere in and out no question asked, not convinced? Just ask the Indonesians. Tax the rich for wealth redistribution? Are you kidding? Price control? Huh? What's that? Your pigeon hole doesn't come tagged with market rates?

The best e.g. is probably before our eyes right now, privatisation of national assets, privatisation of healthcare while it is deemed a driven of economy promoting helthcare tourism, can't pay? We got means testing what! So what isn't the determinant here?

PAP gahmen is so corporate friendly, it maintains one of the lowest corporate tax in the world, regulators keeps a loose lease on misbehaving banks! Of course it is free, too free in fact, time to rein in some control!

You brought your degree?

Anonymous said...

From this financial crisis, i have one conclusion: there is no leadership, apart from self-bragging.

All the warnings to the people had only been sound off after the storm hit our roofs. How can they lead if there is no awareness of the economic situation.

When there are so many voices who warn of this financial meltdown since 2006/2007, it came as a 'surprise' to our million dollars leaders. The result:those billions tax money pour down the drain for those banks, comments that spore will not be in recession....

Yes planned leadership give stability but it doesn't mean it gets better. Just look at those centuries of chinese dynasties. Stably, it ultimately got corrupted to the core.

Anonymous said...

Yes, agree with anon @4:14pm, it is another self-bragging opportunity the MIWs never fail to seize. Going around the world dishing out words of wisdom while welfare of ordinary Singaporeans are simply swept aside. The most important ingredient in their so-called successful recipe is the good work and sacrifices by ordinary Singaporeans, but hardly ever acknowledged.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anon 12:11PM,

Hold your horses! Why get personal?
Everyone knows what you just said is correct.

I know you are a bright person who earned your degree through hard work and sacrifice. Unlike me whom you assumed bought it in a free market.Sorry, my fault for not making the previous rhetorical question more clearly.

Is there such a thing as a free market in an authoritarian state?

Case study 1)
Govt bought the land for HDB below market rate. Is this an example of free market? Who brought this up in parliament? JBJ, no?

Case study 2)
Singapore Inc is made up of GIC and Temasek, no? These 2 behemoths are controlled by free market or by 1 person?

I have nothing against you 12:11 PM. In fact, I agree with you. Its time to rein in the free-wheeling mono political party in Singapore before it reaches the point of no return.


Economist with a Heart :)

Alan Wong said...

Maybe one of the reasons why planned leadership is preferred by many leaders is because a lot of cover-ups may never see the light of day.

Exposing Chen Shui Bian's corruption is such a good example of what our SM Goh has said is incorrect.

Anonymous said...

"Goh also said that Singapore had built up strong institutions to implement public policies effectively, namely the 1)judiciary, 2)the civil service, 3)the police and the media, and the latest was 4)the non-government organisations sector."

anyone missed this gem above?

getting closer to the blueprint but not exactly

quite impress with how things are moving according with the plan.

got hope. i think. but not yet, watch the movie somemore.

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