Govt seeks diverse talent but ‘nasty side of politics’ a challenge

Published: 4:02 AM, July 6, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, July 8, 2013

SINGAPORE — Ensuring a diverse mix of talent in the next generation of leaders and protecting their families from the nasty side of politics are some of the challenges in attracting people to politics, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Mr Lee stressed that the Government “wants a range of people” to enter politics, including those from the public and private sectors, as well as the grassroots. He was responding to questions at the inaugural DBS Asia Leadership Dialogue.

He noted that it is harder these days to bring in someone with a grassroots background. “If (he is) successful in the rough and tumble, he will rise and soon he will be a successful person, and we will bring (him) in and (people will) say, well, he doesn’t count,” he said.

The uncertainty over how things can develop may deter people from entering politics and potential candidates may be concerned about the impact on their families.

“You can be criticised personally ... but what goes on on the Web, all sorts of nasty stuff ... it has a real impact on families,” Mr Lee said.

To continue to attract good people, Singapore needs to have politics that are “constructive” and “clean”. “If good people don’t want to go into politics, you can put all the safeguards you want, you are not going to get the leadership you are hoping for,” he said.

His advice for Singapore’s future leaders: Keep the politics “clean and straight”, bring in people who can make a difference to the country and look beyond their own tenures.