Thursday, May 22, 2008

Politics: Some wise quotes from Ex-Czechoslovakia President Vaclav Havel about being an artist (he is a renowned playwright) and a politician. These are from the BBC interview article:

Havel: I want to be free

Personally I do not think that I have somehow abandoned myself and my nature and principles and that I have somehow changed fundamentally. Many things had to change, but these are more superficial things.

I have to speak in a diplomatic manner, carefully, I cannot always say, straight out, that I think someone is a fool. I have to wear a tie. The office ties me down in a thousand ways and the specific nature of the Czech presidency no less.

I think the above is a fundamental truth as a (good) leader. Diplomacy is necessary on the world stage. The variety of people with all their different cultures and perspectives on the world (orthogonal to whether or not they are sincere, scheming or evil) have to be handled with diplomacy and an open mind. Well, in general, this is a good thing to have when dealing with any people, IMHO.

I think it would perhaps be really good if politicians did not allow themselves be governed by the particular interests of their parties and the rhythm of elections - the need to devote themselves to the technology of power and maintenance of power.

This comment really resonates with my last post.

They should take a broader, longer-term outlook. These are perhaps characteristics of intellectual or spiritual people... it would be good if more so-called intellectuals entered politics.

Personally, I think this ideal would be possible only if some maturity enters the human race in general. We are still too easily threatened and react badly to differing views.

One of the reasons I became president is that I was being told: "You have been criticising all the time, so show us how to do better."

This is a comment that is particularly appropriate to Singapore opposition politicians. I have disliked J. B. Jeyaratnam because he always seems to come across as a "complainer", opposing for the sake of opposing. I also feel that he, almost single-handedly, made the PAP (to be fair, they are not blameless in this matter) react to any opposition in that same light ... essentially dismissing or crushing any opposing view without properly evaluating their merits. I was very glad when he announced his retirement (which apparently may be reversed soon if he forms his own party ... *shudder*) but just as that happened, Chee Soon Juan showed up ... *sigh* (I think he is even worse than J.B.J.).

BBC Question: A big criticism of you is that you have not groomed a successor, and it might turn out to be someone you don't like at all.

I have perhaps taken democracy too seriously, but imagine that President Clinton would groom President Bush or the old President Bush would groom President Clinton. This is not how it works. In democracy one does not groom one's successor.

Nails it on the head. I have always felt uncomfortable when PAP leaders talk about grooming the next generation of "Singapore" leaders, when they really ought to be talking about grooming the next generation of "PAP" leaders. Just reinforces my views that they are getting more and more high-handed and presumptuous. Also makes me worried that they will also get more and more out-of-touch to the point they eventually fail, with no reasonable alternative to take over reins of power in Singapore should Singaporeans decide one day that "enough is enough".

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