wee siew kim/wee shu min, singapore elite members
I would like to comment on the PR fiasco suffered by Member of Parliament Wee Siem Kim, a senior executive in the Singapore Technology Group, and his daughter Shu Min, a high school student, concerning the value of the elite in a society.
One of the frequent themes in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's speeches is "Asians care more about good government than democracy", that developing the self-discipline of the citizens has to come before democracy. LKY's statement was easily misconstrued: self-discipline is not the same as obedience to authority. In fact, it is more applicable to the people in authority than those under it. The lack of self discipline displayed by Chen Shuibian and his family members and associates in Taiwan, and not quite as seriously, by Mahathir in Malaysia, not only have great impact in themselves, it also sets examples that make it harder to ask the ordinary people to show self-discipline.
In other words, self-discipline first has to prevail among the members of the elite, that they should use their power and wealth with restraint, that they should be scrupulous in their methods to acquire power and wealth. Further, only with awareness for the need for self-discipline would they be in a position to establish relevant monitoring and prosecution systems to impose discipline on the whole society.
A society in which the elite thinks that discipline applied only to others and not themselves soon finds that even the most efficient monitoring system would break down as the people in charge of enforcing discipline lose confidence about whether they can apply the same rules to everyone, and then learn to twist the rules to gain benefit for themselves. In other words, failure of elite members to apply self-discipline soon corrupts the whole society.
Whatever their superior points, elite members should be constantly asking themselves: what do I give back to society for my privileged status? They should think of the example of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, for this is what distringuishes a cultured society from a crude one. The CEO earning 1M a year should be asking whether they are 100 times more indispensible than the cleaner who makes 10K, and even those whose management had produced huge profits for the organization should be asking whether the cleaner had benefited from the achievement, whether the CEO has done enough to keep everyone working in the organization motivated, for the long term benefit of the organization.
29 Oct 2006
Wee Siem Kim's PR fiasco
posted by yuen ...