For the country to extend its success beyond its first half-century of Independence, Singapore needs a next generation of leaders who are caring, committed, competent and cohesive, Mr Chan Chun Sing said.
But underpinning all of that must be a common goal - that of building a better Singapore, said the Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, speaking at the unveiling of the People's Action Party's candidates for Tanjong Pagar and Radin Mas constituencies on Wednesday (Aug 19).
And above all else, he said, that is the key job of the country's leaders: Being able to pull Singaporeans in the same direction, for the country's benefit.
"That is what we believe in, what I think our residents and Singaporeans believe in, regardless of race, language or religion, regardless of our differences in perspective on various issues. We are all committed and drawn to this common goal, to build a better Singapore," said Mr Chan.
"And this is the role of leaders. Leaders are not just people who speak up for certain segments of interests. True leadership is about people who bring people together, mobilise them for action, beyond debate, beyond rhetoric."
THE FOUR "C"S OF LEADERSHIP
On what makes a good leader, Mr Chan, who became an MP in 2011 following a military career that saw him attain the rank of Major-General and become Chief of Army, said: "The kind of leaders that we hope for Singapore are people who care deeply about the welfare and well-being of Singaporeans, people who care deeply about the country. People who go down and ensure that every strata of society is taken care of.
"Second, we want leaders who are committed to the cause of Singapore. It has been a marvel that we have been Independent and free for the last 50 years. In order for us to continue this journey, we must have leaders who are committed to serve. Not for their own fame or glory, but for a higher calling.
"Third, we want leaders who are competent. Who know what they are doing, not just at the surface level but down in depth.
"Last but not least, it is never about the individuals – it is about cohesion. We as a team, as part of the larger PAP team – it is the cohesion that stands up. Each of us has our weaknesses but it is our cohesion as a team that will allow us to amplify our strengths. This is how I think Mr Lee Hsien Loong would like to see the whole PAP team, performing as one."
Added Mr Chan: "Individually caring, individually committed, but collectively competent, collectively cohesive. If we can achieve this then I think we have every prospect of continuing to beat the odds and taking Singapore to a higher plane."
A LESSON FROM MR LEE KUAN YEW
The NTUC Secretary-General said that a good leadership team needs to be able to balance two things: Understanding the different perspectives of different parts of society, and then pulling these disparate factions toward a common goal, of making life better for residents of constituency and country.
The team at Tanjong Pagar had Mr Lee Kuan Yew - Singapore's founding Prime Minister, and a stalwart of elections at Tanjong Pagar since 1955 - to remind them of the need to put the benefit of people above all else.
Mr Lee passed away in March this year. His lying-in-state saw hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans queue for hours to pay their respects to the man who was Prime Minister until 1990.
Said Mr Chan: "As Mr Lee reminded us, we must not rest on our laurels. We must make sure that each and every living moment of our life, we strive for better living conditions for our residents, to ensure that Singapore can continue to be at the forefront of the league of nations, so that all of us can benefit.
"And just as Mr Lee has reminded us, we are not six individuals (at Tanjong Pagar and Radin Mas) - we are a team with strengths and weaknesses, but we will reinforce each other to do our job well. We are a team together with the residents and we will endeavour to do our best and make it an even better place for residents to come."