Cooking a Prime Minister
Taking on what Balji had said about the recruitment process of Singapore's future Prime Minister and his view that the current process may not be able to find one that meets our future needs, he presumed that there are other better methods for this. Now, what's wrong with the current process? It is a meticulous and systematic process, done in a methodical manner. It is just like a recipe. You decide on what you want to cook, find the material, go through the whole cooking process and pop, the perfect roast lamb or suckling pig is ready to be served. The academics would have a lot to pick from such a system. The choice of the final product, whether it is best to have a roast lamb or curry chicken or sucking pig, is very subjective. Then the quality of the ingredients will also be questioned. Can we pick or cook a national leader the way we cook a general or top civil servant? Historically a national leader, an exceptional leader, was thrown up by events and circumstances. They used to say that history makes a leader, or is it a leader makes history? Compare our system to the Western model and the Chinese model I think ours is closer to the latter. The American model chooses leaders based more on public appeal, a good looker, a smooth talker, and a lot of marketing and packaging. Not much intelligence needed. The Chinese model churns out a national leader through the many levels of screening and sieving. And the leader must prove himself all the way up. He needs to fight all the way, and that needs quite a bit of intelligence, real leadership and perseverence. Ours is a handpick system that looks at the quality of the candidate based on a known recipe. The leaders of today or yesterday will describe what they think the future leader should be like, and they go around looking for one that fits the mould. It is a cook leader. Is there a better system, or which is the best? Very subjective indeed.