Sunday, August 13, 2006

Where had the Passion gone to?

TODAY, June 27, 2006
GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SMWithout good chance of winning at polls, they might not be willing to risk careers for politicsBy Li Xueying
SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday gave a new take on the role of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) in Singapore politics.Their role is not just to ensure minorities are adequately represented in Parliament, he said. They also contribute to Singapore's political stability, by 'helping us to recruit younger and capable candidates with the potential to become ministers'.'Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics,' Mr Goh said at an event marking the appointment of members to the South East Community Development Council (CDC).'Why should they when they are on the way up in the civil service, the SAF, and in the professions or the corporate world?'
I can't remember who it was who mentioned that Singapore is run like a company. As successful companies go, GE, which is often touted as one of the most successful global companies, had always attributed its success to the "Passion" in its employees.

What SM said seemed to indicate that whatever is driving the PAP candidates to enter politics, "Passion to serve" is not one of them. When a person only ventures into something because of a good chance of success, what can we expect of him when he becomes a Minister? Would we expect him to maintain status quo and go for the tried-and-tested because that is a safe approach? Or, perhaps, he might, all of a sudden, become a risk-taker and come up with new and out-of-the-box policies?

Given the increasingly intense economic competition that Singapore faces, it needs leaders who are passionate about serving its people and bold enough to challenge the status quo. The last people it needs are those who want to be guaranteed success, because these are the ones who will stick around only for as long as the times are good. If they are so uncomfortable with uncertainties, how can they be entrusted with the responsibility of charting Singapore's path into the league of developed nations, a role with even greater uncertainty?

What saddens me is that Ministers consistently tell workers to change their mindsets, embrace change and adjust to the economic realities around them. Yet, they fight to retain a "no worse-off" situation for themselves.

I wonder if the candidates that WP found were like that too. Of course, some of them might not be drawing the kind of salaries that the civil servants and private sector candidates PAP found had been drawing. So, their 'sacrifices' might not be comparable with those by the PAP candidates.

But, then, since the PAP candidates would have been making more money than the WP candidates before they stepped into politics, we would expect them to have correspondingly bigger 'reserves'? Unless the issue here is not about 'size' per se, but about 'sufficiency'?

So, the bottom-line could be that PAP candidates need more money than others? Perhaps they could have bigger families and/or bigger family commitments. Or, could it be that PAP candidates need more re-assurances of success? Or, to use the term SM Goh once used on Singaporeans, PAP candidates are more 'kiasu' or 'kiasi'.

Either way, if this is what PAP candidates are made of these days, then, they are not as good as they used to be. If MM Lee had gone for the money or for a high chance of success some 50 years ago, there would have been no PAP and Singapore would not have been what it is today.

And if the WP candidates can bring with them the passion to serve like the PAP first-generation leaders did, we might very well see the WP sweeping into power the same way the PAP did many, many years ago.


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