Trust of the people vital for Government

Last week, Singaporeans were informed of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's appointment as the People's Action Party's first assistant secretary-general, the role that will pave the way for him to assume the role of prime minister after current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong steps down (PAP sets stage for Heng to be PM; Nov 23).

The primary challenge facing Mr Heng and his fourth-generation leadership team is winning the trust and confidence of the electorate in the run-up to the next general election.

The 4G leaders will also need to continuously engage their stakeholders to better understand their needs and expectations.

As a seasoned global leadership development practitioner, I am of the view that both business and political leaders' drive, vision, and tenacity have created the great success stories of modern business and governments, including that of Singapore.

Trust in a government has been identified as one of the most important foundations upon which the legitimacy and sustainability of political systems are built.

It is critical for the 4G leadership team to ensure that public trust in the Government is sustained, as the implications of low citizen trust in the Government are simply too great to leave to chance.

In Singapore's context, the pioneering leaders have demonstrated that trust is essential for social cohesion and well-being, as it affects the Government's ability to govern and enables it to act in the best interest of the citizens during times of social and economic uncertainty.

PM Lee once said: "In the coming years, this trust will be tested by economic and social disruptions, and will be more important than ever", adding: "We must hold together, not pull apart."

Sattar Bawany (Professor)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2018, with the headline 'Trust of the people vital for Government'. Print Edition | Subscribe