Sunday, January 17, 2010

SM Goh stresses importance of leadership for a country's economic devt

SINGAPORE: There is a relationship between a country's leadership and how its economy performs, says Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Addressing graduates of the first batch of youth leaders from a leadership programme in his Marine Parade GRC, Mr Goh says it is important to have good leaders in four sectors of the country - political, public service, business sector and the people sector.

Twenty-four youths from the Marine Parade GRC on Saturday became the pioneer batch to graduate from the NextGen Leadership Programme organised by the Marine Parade Leadership Foundation.

The seven-month programme equips the youths with interpersonal and leadership skills for community service. During the programme, the youth leaders had the opportunity to travel to Tanjung Pinang to help the residents with development programmes.

The youth leaders also took part in several Meet-the-People sessions with the Members of Parliament of Marine Parade GRC. Ng Pei Ling, a graduate of NextGen Leadership Programme, said: "It allows me to see things from the government's perspective and I realise that actually there are a lot of things that come into play when settling things." Prasanth Selvam, another graduate of NextGen Leadership Programme, said: "I learnt that Singaporeans can actually be very petty with their requests, (like asking for the waiving of traffic summons).

The thing is that you made the mistake and you have to pay for it. Some of the requests are very genuine." Mr Goh was impressed with the work of the youth leaders. He said their involvement reminded him of an ancient saying on the importance of leadership.

Mr Goh said: "(The ancient saying is) 'an army of sheep led by a lion is stronger than an army of lions led by a sheep'.

"In other words, leadership is critical in battles; the leadership qualities, the courage and the ability and getting the team to follow you is crucial." And Mr Goh said that for a country to succeed, good leadership is critical in four areas - political, public service, business sector and the people sector.

"In a country, of course, leadership is important. In a battle it is crucial, in peacetime (it is important) in terms of generating economic growth," he said.

"If you track the performance of a country in the last 30 years, you will come to the conclusion that there is a co-relationship between the leadership of a country and economic performance of the country," he added.

"The better the leadership, the better the government, more enlightened, more visionary. The more honest the government, the better the economic performance."

However, Mr Goh hopes more can be done in the people sector, especially in grooming leaders in the volunteer sector.