More than one way to test next PM's mettle

While I agree with Mr Peter Loon Seng Chee that the next Prime Minister should preferably have undergone a baptism of fire (New leaders need a baptism of fire; Jan 9), grave situations which call forth the exceptional leader are rare.

It was also suggested that such a leader should have made his mark without riding on the coattails of a more charismatic politician.

In our electoral system, this presumably refers to the group representation constituency (GRC) system.

To have a leader who made his mark by winning a single-member constituency (SMC) would indeed be more persuasive, but such a choice would be limited as nearly all of the 4G ministers, including the three front runners, were elected through a GRC.

This is in contrast to former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (former Tanjong Pagar SMC), Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong (former Marine Parade SMC) as well as our current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ( former Teck Ghee SMC), who all entered politics on an SMC ticket.

It may be worthwhile to consider someone who has experienced an electoral defeat but yet has the fire and "thick skin" to contest again.

Even though this would be only one factor of consideration, such a humbling experience would allow a deeper connection to the population as most people would have lived a life filled with ups and downs and will be able to relate.

Such an individual would thus be exhibiting the hallmarks of a great leader through the saying "what does not kill you makes you stronger".

Daniel Ng Peng Keat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2018, with the headline 'More than one way to test next PM's mettle'. Print Edition | Subscribe