Don't leave leadership succession to chance

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam was spot on in his address at the launch of the ninth Corporate Governance Week last Monday (Stable leadership transition crucial, especially for Singapore: Shanmugam; Sept 25).

The natural expectation of the people in a democracy is the right to choose their leader.

However, having accomplished so much in so short a time, transitioning from a Third World nation to a First World one in less than one generation, it is easy for Singaporeans to forget the tender age and smallness of our nation, along with the accompanying vulnerabilities.

One does not have to look far to find examples of the model of allowing people to elect their top leader, which Mr Shanmugam said "fails in so many places".

The United States is so destructively polarised that its government cannot even make definitive calls on critical internal issues, ranging from healthcare and education to housing and infrastructure.

Externally, its agreements with the international community are honoured only until the next person takes the helm.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Paris climate accord and Iran nuclear deal have all been swept under the rug as if no hands were ever shaken.

Such political myopia has left the country in deep paralysis.

Over the past five decades, Singapore's leaders have demonstrated that they have not been resting on their laurels.

Their continuing hard work and wise stratagems have given rise to great accomplishments.

As long as our leaders are managing our country in a system that counters complacency, corruption and elitism, and propels our nation to greater heights, we should not try to fix what is not broken.

If we leave our leadership succession to chance, we are leaving the survival and prosperity of our country to chance as well.

Since we are a small nation, we can quickly become irrelevant in the world if we allow divisions to enter the fabric of our society.

In a world where the geopolitical landscape is rapidly shifting, others look to Singapore for its stability.

Lily Ong (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2018, with the headline 'Don't leave leadership succession to chance'. Print Edition | Subscribe