Choice of PM: not just a matter of looking and sounding good

Our next prime minister will have the shortest run-up before he assumes the role of first amongst equals in the Cabinet.

He must hit the ground running, fast yet steady (Singapore's 4G team to pick leader 'in good time'; Jan 5 ).

We don't need a prime minister who is only impressively articulate, handsome, charming or charismatic, the way popular candidates are nominated in many countries.

The leading contenders for the post here are never chosen this way.

Instead, in Singapore, we have "boring" candidates who go about assiduously communicating and organising well, motivating and focusing on the nitty-gritty non-glamorous issues, maximising the limited talent in our small pool and instilling a common sense of mission in Singaporeans.

One false move probably will not bring Singapore to her knees, even if poor designations for senior positions can set back an organisation for a decade, as with the microcosmic case of our SMRT.

Still, with the inexorable global competition and hordes of hungry Third World nations playing catch up, we will pay a punishing price if we simply stagnate and not move forward with the correct choice of an astute leader.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2018, with the headline 'Choice of PM: not just a matter of looking and sounding good'. Print Edition | Subscribe