Political leaders must place importance on their health

Despite Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's assurance, I suspect many Singaporeans are still concerned about his health, especially because he is a very hard-working minister (Heng: Life-and-death episode strengthened commitment to serve; Nov 24).

Politics is not just about the need to sprint at the right time. It is also about being able to run a marathon to achieve sustainable success.

Political leaders should not only be extra cautious about looking after their health but should also be offered the latitude to look after their health.

Health is life. Without good health, our political leaders cannot enjoy a productive life and have an adequate level of fitness, vitality and energy to lead and serve the country and the people.

Good health is not just about physical health. It also includes emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental health. Any of these dimensions can affect political leaders' overall well-being, performance and contributions.

Political leaders are increasingly facing greater challenges and stress in a fast-moving world.

They have to handle more complex situations even as they are facing a more sophisticated and polarised people with a variety of needs and demands.

Perhaps Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong should review and improve the system of looking after the health of his colleagues and protect them from unhealthy and unnecessary stress.

There is a need to enrol more political leaders and groom them to share the increasing workload of running the country.

In addition, political leaders can be assigned and supported by more talents to help them discharge their roles and responsibilities more effectively and efficiently.

Living a healthy life is one of the best gifts that our political leaders can give to themselves and assure Singaporeans of their stable, secure and sustainable contributions.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2018, with the headline 'Political leaders must place importance on their health'. Print Edition | Subscribe