"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.