Quality is the key to boosting political system

The swearing-in ceremony of the 13th Parliament of Singapore on Jan 15.
The swearing-in ceremony of the 13th Parliament of Singapore on Jan 15. PHOTO: MCI

The key to improving the political system is not to increase just the quantity of leaders in Parliament, but also the quality ("Changes to political system to prepare S'pore for long term"; yesterday).

We need to institutionalise a system to produce an ever-improving standard of moral, responsible, competent and productive voices from both the ruling and opposition parties.

We need active commitment, support and participation from the people, private and public sectors, and we need to develop a synergistic relationship among these sectors.

The electorate plays an important part in improving the political system and ensuring that it is effectively implemented.

Every voter needs to be mindful of the power of a vote to change the future of our nation. Therefore, the Government needs to educate the people and strengthen their political wisdom and maturity.

This is to ensure that the electorate will take an objective, balanced, rational and pragmatic approach to choosing our political leaders.

To develop a high-quality government, we need to have a regular pipeline of high-quality political leaders to lead the country.

Every political party needs to be mindful that it has the power to strengthen or weaken the political system and climate.

It should seek to serve the best interests and greater good of the nation, and not be unduly tied down to its political ideology, manifestos and relationships with allies and adversaries.

Political parties need to attract, develop and retain exemplary and proven leaders who will set a high standard of honour, ethos and conduct.

These leaders should have farsightedness, yet be rooted to reality. They should be able to connect with the people and galvanise their energy and resources without being swayed by partisan emotions, interests and arguments.

Just as importantly, political leaders should be brave and strong enough to battle the populist tide and go beyond their personal and party's interests to pave the way forward for the economy and society.

Political leaders do not have a monopoly on good ideas, visions, road maps and actions.

Therefore, the Government needs to develop more ground-up initiatives to help political leaders run the country, provide healthy checks and balances, and develop value-added propositions to enhance progress and achievements for the community and country.

To do that, we need to further improve the infrastructure, systems and processes to encourage the growth of more civic-minded citizens.

These citizens should be given the necessary support to connect, collaborate and co-create solutions, and help to tackle key issues facing our country.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2016, with the headline 'Quality is the key to boosting political system'. Print Edition | Subscribe