In his National Day Rally speech in 2016, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted his decision to step down some time after the next general election, which must be held by April 2021.
I applaud him for his committed and conscientious approach in ensuring effective succession.
One of the hallmarks of a great leader is the ability to groom more and better leaders to achieve sustainable success.
In this regard, I am deeply concerned about some of the key challenges in grooming the next Prime Minister and his or her 4G core leadership and ensuring a smooth transition.
First, I trust that the PM will not be overly-focused on the timing for his succession. He will instead be more focused on finding and promoting the right Ministers to look after the tasks ahead.
Secondly, it’s also important to ensure that these Ministers are well prepared to undertake important role and responsibilities to lead the country in the next lap.
They need to be given the right exposure and experience to strengthen their leadership, competence, relationships, and other resources.
The PM has a relatively short runway to help the Ministers cultivate these values, and assess if they are willing to do the job and are able to deliver desired outcomes and results.
As it stands, most of the key Ministers in the fourth generation were appointed after the general election in 2011.
Do they have adequate working experience and exposure in various key ministries to lead the country?
Thirdly, as in the past, some of the Ministers may choose not to continue in key positions or to even leave the government.
I’m confident the PM has put in place contingency plans to ensure that there’s an adequate number of quality leaders to take over the baton and carry on the race.
Fourthly, judging from the PM’s desired timing, he may have to appoint at least one of the Ministers to assume a Deputy Prime Minister or a Coordinating Minister’s position.
Such an initiative may cause unintended consequences, including intrapersonal and interpersonal challenges. I’m sure the PM is fully prepared to resolve such challenges.
Fifthly, while it’s important to enroll younger leaders to ensure continuity and sustainability, it may be equally important to enroll and retain older leaders to better understand and connect with an aging populace.
These older leaders may have a more enriched and deeper experience in life. They can contribute to a more diverse set of ideas, knowledge and expertise to make better-informed decisions.
Last but not least, the PM may need to better prepare the people to support the fourth-generational leaders.
Singaporeans need to exercise patience while offering useful feedback to help our leaders learn, improve and achieve better results.
The government does not have a monopoly of wisdom, and the most effective ideas, visions, and plans.
Therefore, we definitely need more ground-up and peer-to-peer initiatives.
While the government has apportioned a part of the national budget to catalyze and support such initiatives, we can do more and do better in fostering these initiatives.
Together with the fourth-generational leaders, we can achieve greater prosperity and progress for our nation in the future.
I hope this message will find a place in your heart.
By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.
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