SINGAPORE – The man touted by some to be the next Prime Minister believes that the Republic’s fourth generation leadership is not yet in place, even though it is only eight years away from the deadline that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has set himself to pass on the baton.
In a wide-ranging interview with TODAY, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, 42, yesterday noted that the leadership is still “thin”, despite the induction of himself and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat into the Cabinet after the General Election last year.
Said Mr Chan: “It is a constant search. We have a very thin layer now and it is work in constant progress.”
Reiterating that leadership renewal is a continuing process, the former Chief of Army nevertheless said he was not quite comfortable with the “fourth generation leadership” tag.
Said Mr Chan: “The only slight thing I don’t like about the ‘fourth generation’ term is that it’s as if there is a distinct break.
“But if you look at the way we have organised ourselves over all these years, it’s not a distinct break.”
He added: “Every election we bring in some, we retire some – so there’s always a fresh inflow of new blood, new ideas.”
Describing the batches of national leaders as “first, second, third or fourth generation” also implies a Cabinet built around a particular individual, he felt.
“Of course, the leader plays a part, but more important than the leader is the team. And if you look at the team, there’s a certain continuity,” he said.
Mr Chan added that “it’s not obvious that the next Prime Minister must come from this team, and not another team”. He said: “My position has always been that I’m not worried about the individual. I’m more concerned about the team having the requisite skill sets, so that when called upon, you have the skills.”
The fact that the next Prime Minister will be chosen by his peers in the Cabinet has not stopped speculation that Mr Chan – given his credentials – is the Prime Minister-in-waiting.
On whether he feels added pressure, Mr Chan stressed that he would rather focus on doing good things for the people.
He pointed out: “There can be only one PM but that doesn’t mean that if you are not the PM, you cannot make a contribution to the team.”
On a personal note, he concedes that, not only were his friends surprised that he went into politics, he did not envisage it himself.
Describing himself as “not a political creature”, he said: “I didn’t plan to go into the army. I didn’t expect myself to do well in the army. I didn’t come (into politics) because I want to be the PM, or the Deputy PM. You come in because this bunch of people you (will) work with are honourable people. You want to do some good, make a contribution.”
Govt engagement a work in progress
Amid the changing political landscape, the Government has been increasing its engagement with the citizenry.
While there are detractors who still feel that, in some cases, the Government has already made up its mind before consulting citizens, Mr Chan reiterated that the key lies in finding a “sweet spot”, where there is agreement that it is at an appropriate stage for consultation.
He readily acknowledges that the Government is still feeling its way and noted that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
For instance, public consultation for social safeguards for casinos will be quite different from that for issues involving the redevelopment of Bukit Brown, he said.
And for every person who feels the Government should consult the citizens at a more preliminary stage, there will be others who expect the policy-makers to frame a particular issue before seeking people’s opinions.
Mr Chan also noted that, ironically, any dissatisfaction over the Government’s consultation efforts stems from its desire to constantly pre-empt issues before they snowball into problems.
Citing the building of the eldercare centres as an example, Mr Chan said: “(We) could have avoided these issues politically by not doing anything in the short term.”
He added: “Then, one day, everyone will grow old and, suddenly, there will be a huge clamour for certain services to be provided. When the clamour starts, you will have no political problems, you will have enough political support.”
But, by then, it would be too late, he pointed out.
by Tan Weizhen, Todayonline, Jun 30, 2012
Link : “Leadership a work in constant progress ” said Mr Chan Chun Sing