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Sakmongkol ak 47

Friday 19 February 2021

When LKY Wept: Lessons In Leadership. Part Two.

1. Corruption is not tolerated at all in Singapore and is weeded out. In Malaysia, it is a way of life and indeed the s.o.p of the Malay based political parties like umno and Muhyi's ppbm.

2. I need to get something off my chest. There appears to be a positive relationship by the more intense you profess to be a Malay and a Muslim with corruption.

3. It seems the more Malayness and more Islamic you claim yourself to be, the more is your propensity to commit corruption. Your pompous claims as to your ethnicity and your religiosity means nothing if you are not honest.

4. The measure of man is not his claim of ethnicity and religiosity but as to whether he is honest. That to me, is more relevant in our discussion.

5. That is how I would measure people like Najib, Zahid, Teuku Adnan, Tajuddin and the court jester, Bung. Clearly they are not the right leadership for Malaysia. Nothing personal, its just business.

6. Once corruption is dealt with we move on to the next ingredient. The other factor is pragmatism.

7. By pragmatism, I mean the adoption of a theory and belief as long as it works. The acid test as to whether a policy works is to ask does it work here. It is the refusal to be menacled by any one theory.

8. This rule is best described by the phrase I don't care whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.

9. When LKY wanted to develop Singapore, he wasn't tied to the theories of Friedman, Keynes, or a Samuelson. Rather, the test is does it work here?

10. It involves the hard-headed choice of a set of policies that work in the Malaysian environment. All other considerations are ignored.

11. It does not involve the need to play favourites, play God to pick winners and to cater to special interests groups. It is the creation of an impartial system within which the actors operate to the best of their abilities.

12. This leads us to the other requirement for economic success. It is meritocracy.

13. It simply means management by the best of talents. The best talents for leadership, for the judiciary, for the civil service etc.

14. It is the opposite of kakistocracy- management by the least able. It suggests to just accept the mediocre.

15. That would mean leadership comes willy-nilly, perchance and happenstance. Then we get people like the embezzler in chief like Najib and his cohorts.

16. Meritocracy on the other hand is purposeful and deliberate. Its the positive cultivation of talent and not leaving it to chance.

17. One of the tools to get meritocracy is education. The other is a rigid vetting process. In Singapore those wanting to become MPs and ministers go through a series of interviews. These are designed to get the best.

18. It may sound elitist, but it is necessary to eliminate those who rise to prominence because of their ascribed status. This would include those who rise to the top because of their family socio-economic status, or we assume people somehow inherit family leadership traits. Not necessarily so. Not only the cream rises to the top so does the scum.

19. Kishore Mahbubani,a former dean of the LKY School of Government, summarised Singapore's success in the acronym, MPH.

20. It stands for Meritocracy, Pragmatism and Honesty. I had earlier added resolve and a sense of noblesse oblige and a score to settle.

21. These are necessary requirements but not sufficient. I would add two more. The quality of the people and the elimination of any forms of extremism.

22. By quality of the people, I mean they should be robust, disciplined and possessed of correct and strict values set. They should be able to differentiate between right and wrong.

23. Any forms of theft and corruption are wrong. People who commit them must never be worshipped and adulated. They must be ostracized and heavily censured. And deservedly so.

24. Any forms of extremism must not be allowed to jeorpadise the cohesiveness of society. That includes Malay supremacism, religious bigotry, Chinese chauvinism or Indian gangsirterism. Deal with them with an iron hand.


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