The kind of leaders we need

February 13, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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While the PAP emphasizes on “merits” based on a piece of paper, it forgets that the intangibles such as one’s commitment to serve the community with humility is just as, if not more, important.
Jufri Salim

The credibility of a leader is always an important issue.  Questions about his profession, what degree he possesses: is it a master’s or bachelor’s degree, and which prestigious school he is from are often asked. 

But have we ever asked if such an individual will be able to contribute to our society? Is he approachable and a people’s man?  Is she stepping forward as a leader for the sake of our nation or is she doing it for self-centered reasons?

While the PAP emphasizes on “merits” based on a piece of paper, it forgets that the intangibles such as one’s commitment to serve the community with humility is just as, if not more, important.

Meritocracy, as defined by the ruling party, has always been the hallmark of our system.  We are all educated to live, work, walk, talk, play and even told where to spit according to requirements set by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Students, as well as parents, are stressed out when exams are around the corner because everyone is worried that if they don’t excel they would be seeing red in their report book. This exam-fever creates anxiety and fatigue.  The stressed-out life to which our youths are subjected to effectively excludes them from involvement in social, community and political domains.

Unfortunately, these are areas that we all need to be involved in in order to be part of our nation’s growth.

Excelling only academically and not in other human-related topics will only produce self-centered individuals devoid of communitarian values, qualities that are important and vital in our existence as a people. 

Creative thinking and productive ideas are two of the paths that can lead us to freedom and democracy.  Curbing our students’ thirst for information and knowledge through monotonous propaganda fed by the Ministry of Education will only corrupt the thinking of many young talents in Singapore.

Providing them only with tools to aim for success in exams, and not allowing them to open up to reality and truth is not the way forward as this prevents the development of potential leaders of our future.

But now, with the technology that we have, many of our youths are aware of the situation that we face.  They know that we have lost something precious in our society which is freedom of expression.

With the advent of the new media, many of our youths are curious and they are coming forward.  We know that you are looking for a way forward.  The Young Democrats are what you are looking for.   We can help you can achieve what you have been denied of in your formative years. 

But we can help only if we work together.  We not only need your support but we also need YOU!  We need people who believe in dreams, people who believe in themselves.  With that kind of a spirit and a steely sense of purpose, we can march and break through brick walls.

We, the youths, think of alternatives and we are very much more vocal.  We have that energy, fire and passion. Channel all these correctly and we can have a better future.

Let’s prove that we are not as apathetic as we are projected to be.  We will not remain in the dark and suffer in silence.  Let’s take back our lost role as the vanguard of change.  More important, we don’t need the kind of paper-qualified PAP type of leaders to tell us where to go and what to do.

What we need is a belief in ourselves.  This is our time and we are taking it back!

Jufri Salim is the Vice-President of the Young Democrats.