ONE of Asia's most respected leaders, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's views on leadership were much sought after during his recent visits to both Dubai and New Delhi.
In a recent interview with India TV in New Delhi, Mr Lee stressed that a crucial factor in leadership was credibility.
He recounted how he gained credibility the hard way — by being knocked about by the communists and by having nasty conflicts with the communalists.
And Mr Lee said that this was when the people concluded he was not a fake and was prepared to put his life on the line.
Speaking at a memorial lecture in the name of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr Lee dished out some advice to India's young politicians.
"I think the first thing they must remember is to not promise something they can't deliver. It sounds good at election time but three years later, they become empty words.
"You know you couldn't produce it, you promised this, you're not credible and you lose credibility," said Mr Lee.
He added: "You take George W Bush, he's a tough man, 9-11, if you saw him on television at the World Trade Centre, he took that bullhorn and he says to the firemen; 'I heard you and the world will hear from you'.
"And he went to Afghanistan and he hit the Taliban. Now he's in trouble in Iraq, but he's not a quitter. If he has good policies out of this chaos to establish a stabilised Iraq, maybe not a full democracy, but a stabilised Iraq with a properly democratic Iraqi elected government, his credibility will be very high, he'll go down in glory.
"And there's still a chance, in fact, I believe he's going to fight to create that. I think you want that kind of leader.
"Of course, his opponents say he's misled us into a wrong war but they were the people who voted for the war.
"Everybody believed there were weapons of mass destruction including the intelligence agencies.
"I would say that's leadership," Singapore's first prime minister said.
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I can't help being disturbed when our leaders started commenting on the situation in other countries but I think this one cuts the cake. Not everyone believed that there were weapons of mass destruction before the war begun. Moreover, George Bush went to war despite lacking UN and home support. What does Mr Lee mean when he said "they were the people who voted for the war"
Last I know, Bush did not call for a referendum before he attacked Iraq and there were obviously strong opposition from the grounds. There were worldwide protests before the war begun. 3 million people in Rome against the war which is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the largest ever anti-war rally. Millions of people protested, in approximately 800 cities around the world. The event was listed by the 2004 Guiness Book of Records as the largest mass protest movement in history. When a few Singaporeans tried to protest outside the American embassy pre Iraqi invasion, our police hauled those protestors away and gave them a stern warning. Do we want seriously want to endorse leadership despite protests from the ground?