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领袖素质比形象更重要

2006-07-04 13:44

  In his National Day Rally Speech, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong gave a candid assessment of his successor.

  The public persona of Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, he said, is that of a no-nonsense, uncompromising and tough minister. He hopes DPM Lee would let his softer side show, he said.

  Mr Gohs intention was to highlight the importance for a leader to be approachable.

  Very often, whether a leader is seen as such is a result of the perception by the masses of how he relates to and mingles with the people.

  A two-way communication exists between government leaders and the people.

  A leader who has an image of being close to the people can get them to better understand and accept a new policy. On the other hand, the people will be encouraged to speak their minds when the leader is open to constructive suggestions. The public will be a lot more forthcoming with their views.

  Feedback on a wide range of issues will in turn help the government keep its fingers on the pulse of the people.

  While the public image of a leader is important, whether or not he is popular, in the long-term interests of the nation, is much less crucial than whether or not he is capable and competent.

  For instance, a painting with an inferior frame often has a direct and negative impact on the viewers opinion of the artwork. But such an impression is not permanent and can be changed with a better frame. The true worth of the painting will depend ultimately on whether it is indeed a masterpiece.

  The qualities of a leader, including moral character and self-cultivation, is shown in his sense of mission and political commitment to the nation. He must be farsighted, must persevere in what he believes in and not be sidetracked by temporary setbacks.

  Knowledge is the basis of a leaders ability and experience is the sum of precious lessons learnt over time. But to keep up with the fast-changing world, a leader also needs to have the foresight to predict what may go wrong as well as the courage to correct it.

  The expertise and experience of a leader cannot be gained overnight. They are acquired over a period of time and are genuine qualities that cannot be faked.

  A spin doctor can help a leader create an image that will appeal to the people, but cannot turn the leader into one who has the required ability and competence to lead.

  I am no expert on politics and I have not drawn my observations from books on politics or theories by academics.

  With advances in information technology, we are now able to see clearly for ourselves political developments in the region via the Internet and television coverage, as if they are happening right before our eyes.

  While there are many positive lessons to be gained, it is also not uncommon to see political leaders, for personal or party interests, wasting precious resources, time and energy squabbling or behaving in an absurd manner.

  Singaporeans who witness all these often exclaim: “Luckily our leaders are different! Luckily this did not happen in Singapore!”

  Political events in different places have served as a point of reference for us to understand what qualities we should look for in a leader. They have also prompted me to express my views.

  It is inevitable that a new leader needs to make adjustments in a political succession. The people will also need time to get used to a new leader. With a consensus on the way forward and a tolerant and understanding attitude, this should not be a problem.

  ·The writer is a local commentator. Translated by Yap Gee Poh.

  吴作栋总理在国庆群众大会演讲中谈到接班人,坦率指出在民众眼中,李显龙副总理的形象过于严肃,不苟言笑,他希望李副总理多展露自己亲善温和的一面。

  吴总理的意思是要指出领袖的亲和力的重要性,而亲和力往往表现在人民对领袖与民相处的观感与印象。

  政府领袖与民间沟通交流的管道是双向的。亲民形象能使政策更容易传达,政策能更全面地推行;另一方面,亲民形象能“广直言之路,启进善之门”,广泛而不同的民意,有助于为政者对情势全面的了解,亲民的形象能使民意的反馈更为通畅。

  不过,公众形象固然重要,但受民众欢迎与否,从国家长远利益的角度看,并不比为政者的内涵与才能更具决定性,这当中有主次之分。

  比如一幅画作,镜框装裱的优劣往往会直接影响赏画人的观感,但这观感是一时的,可以重新改造,最终价值的肯定还在画作的实质内涵。

  为政者的内涵,包括道德的理念与修养,体现在对国家使命的承担与政治奉献,加上对理想的坚持,远虑深谋,不轻易因眼前的波折而有所迷失;才能是以学识为基础,加上经验的累积,在瞬息万变的今天,还要有预见社会发展的疏漏而知所纠偏的洞察力与勇气。

  内涵素养与才学历练绝非一时之间可以营造的,是一点一滴,一针一线,实实在在的。公众形象设计师可以替你塑造你喜欢的形象,但形象师却无法替你塑造你所必须具备的,经得起考验的内涵与才能。

  政治我是外行,上述观感不是源自政治专著、学者理论。今天资讯科技发达,远在天边的事,就像发生在眼前。通过电脑网络、电视媒体,我们有机会清晰看到周遭地区的政治动向,正面而具启发性的例子很多。

  但为了个人或政党的利益,将宝贵的资源、时间、精力耗费在顶牛抬杠,行径荒诞不经的,时有所见。

  这常令人发出惊叹:“还好我们的政治领袖不是这样的!”“还好这事件不是发生在新加坡!”

  有不同地域活灵活现的政治事例作为参照比对,顺着这条思路,自然衍生出对理想政治人物的诉求。这是我观感的来由。

  新旧交替,新领导人难免要重新适应;同样的,民众对新领导人也有一个调配的过程。方向一致,抱以宽容谅解的心境,这不是一道难关。

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