• George Yeo
    Minister of Foreign Affairs, Singapore. Guest Columnist of BeyondSG. He is on Facebook. Readers are welcome to join his Facebook network at
  • Harold Fock
    Entrepreneur (Chief Editor of BeyondSG). Deputy CEO/CFO of a listed technology company in Asia and CEO of Foundation Capital Pte Ltd, a hedge fund based in Singapore.
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September 25, 2006


Ask any successful bosses, they will probably tell you about their leadership or success factors such as the following:-

1. Focus and Consistency.
2. Positive Work Attitude.
3. Foresight & Insight
4. Supportive Environment.
5. Passion & Determination.
6. Coordination, Teamwork and Bottom-up Approach.
7. Adaptation to Changing Environments.
8. Creativity and Entrepreneurship
9. Leverage on Strengths and avoidance of Weakness. (Sun Sze Art
of War)


A moment of reflection will reveal that the root cause of many human problems is self-created due to narrow individualistic and nationalitic approaches.

For every country trying to succeed in nationalism and religious dominance there are equal number suffering from inequity and injustices.

If people are more objective there will be win-win situations and more progress and more peace.

The average work places are similarly full of problems of individualism as described in various office jokes e.g.

1. Jumping to conclusion

2. Beating around the bush

3. Running down the boss

4 Going around in circles

5. Dragging their feet

6. Passing the buck

7. Climbing the ladder

8. Wading through paperwork

9. Pulling strings

10. Throwing their weight around

11. Stretching the truth

12. Bending the rules

13. Pushing their luck

How to bring about win-win situations for all.

In process management, tasks are objectively set up in quality-time-cost lego-like component work processes as follows:-

OSP Step (1) Study of Ideas,
OSP Step (2) Enquiry,
OSP Step (3) Securing Contracts,
OSP Step (4) Contract Administration (10 departments),

Such task is now set up in forms (administration) and work forms (operations) with quality-time-cost controls, coordination, comparison, corrections and knowledge application.


Today, objective process management is gradually taking over traditional individualistic management practices e.g. banking, trading, travel-ticketing, designing, transportation, logistics, stock-trading, accounting, telecommunications, government services, court administration etc.


Detailed functional tasks are easily divided in 10 basic departments : 1.(General) 2.(Human Resource) 3.(Revenue) 4.(Accounts) 5.(Marketing) 6.(Services-all contracted activities) 7.(Facility) 8.(Enforcement) 9. (Production) 10.(Compliance).

Process management generates quantified feedbacks i.e. "1" for non-attainment, "2" for attainment and "3" for excellence.

All tasks "1s" are objectively processed in 2-way communication task-line feedbacks with closing action taken at weekly interval.


So all governments and businesses are easily governed by processes with in-built quality-time-cost control, and good corporate governance.

All government manage their tasks objectively to produce win-win solutions to benefit all.

United Nation could help world government to control corruptions with hands-on control on revenue, expenditure, cost saving, enforcement, logistics etc. objectively managed in processes under the control of a simple Process File List as follows:-

Level 1: Management Report (call centre)
Level 2- Form processes generate objective factual feedbacks.
Level 3 - Work-form processes provide for coordination and knowledge application.


United Nation could promote process management to hring long-lasting progress and peace.

PM of Singapore has asked people to come forward to ask for change.

That is a very good gesture on his part.

But what have gone wrong so that there is this overwhelming need to ask people to do the bottom-up change.

Just look at what happened briefly in the past 40 years.

Government failed to respect wishes of the people in freeing up press control and in lowering costs of doing business.

But despite feedbacks as posted to Feedback Unit for years in "20 Major Govt Policy Errors" problems were covered up due to lack of alternative voices in parliament and press control.

People bear the burden of persistent tax-and-recover, double-taxing high cost policies and drop in economic competitiveness since 1970s due to failure to upgrade the economy and SMEs.

Businesses cannot survive and people cannot find jobs and are leaving due to wrong policies of the past. This is because the Government have implemented wrong policies to suit its own ease of creating surpluses and raise its own self-rewards.

Government is the one who has refused to change many of these wrong policies of the past. People are not at fault. Now, just go to any HDB heartlands and watch many businesses continue to close shops and people are leaving for greener pasture.

Clamp-down of the press and double-taxing on land and triple-charging on vehicle are wrong policies. Farming out of essential services to GLCs and corporatising these services to allow all of them to suck more monies from people is another wrong policy. Tax-and-recover system is another wrong policy.

Government should change all these wrong policies and encourge all the smaller businesses to grow with supportive procurement policies. Do not close all doors on the smaller guys so that the smaller guys could go into business.

NTUC and GLCs should stop competing against its own people for a living and allow them to do well and create jobs.

Because of all these wrong policies, government has caused unhappiness and migration and finally has to resort to people importing in the name of foreign talents.

We still have not attracted many top talents despite all the FT policy and those who are imported are none other than those we already have in large number. This kind of importing of people does not add values to our economy or create new technology start-ups.

Instead of importing lawyers, accountants, doctors, insurance people and business adm graduates we should import scientists and technologists who could help to branch out in new technology applications and start-ups.

So if government really and sincerely wants to change it should change the root causes of unhappiness and migrations - high costs of living and failure to create new technology start-ups due to conceptual leadership.

So where is the change if government insists on its right to stay firm on all the high-cost policies and discriminatory recruitment practices favoring only the few elites.

If there is the change the change should be to favor and give more opportunities to its own citizens, treat them fairly so that they will not have to migrate elsewhere to seek better jobs and higher pays.

If government stays firm on its pro-foreign policy and does not do anything to address the root causes whatever the change will be of little use but only false pretences to cover up old problems.

This is the most important message to our politicians - understand your adversary.

In foreign relation, often history has shown that both sides wanted and dominate the other and at the end none is the winner and both are the losers.

Singapore leaders as shown by their own policies towards their own people for the past 41 years always maintain the top-down domineering Kiasu stance toward the people.

They are high on tasks and presentation but very low on understanding the needs and aspirations of others in dealing with people or other countries.

Legalistic abilities pr IQ is not enough in overcoming problems with others especially in dealing with equals or higher personage.

The Malaysians on the other hand may be difficult to handle because of the Malay dominance, and precisely because of this we have to understand the need to handle them with care and consideration.

The Malays are a proud and sensitive race as well made more so by religion. If they turn inward, and refuse to deal with anyone and become claustrophobic, they would become more problematic.

To work with the Malaysians' Malay, Singapore has to come up with a package which will respect their feeling and sovereignty and yet will by based on multi-racial and multi-religious co-existence as the fundamental principle which will take a little time for them to assess and respect.

Singapore Malays have been accommodated to the extent that they are economically more independent now and are likely to offer the Malaysian Malays the comforting feeling they eventually could aspire to be like them if both sides cooperate.

From such people-to-people cooperation, more trust can be created and the politicians will eventually have to give up their past distrust on both sides and learn to flow with the people's tide.

Why can't our leaders chart such a people-to-people cooperative strategy in making them understand our approaches towards the Malays in Singapore and win them over to our policies.

The above can be implemented through various people-to-people cooperative projects like being done with Indoneia after the Tsunami.

Do not play up to the press or get entangled in so many emotional issues with them. Just work on the positive and concrete tangible advantages that Singapore has achieved - the Singapore Malays have got better than the Malaysian Malays without any special Bumiputra privileges and in the long run this might be the course for the Malaysian Malays as well as they will not forever depend on such policy to maintain their position resulting in racial strife and brain drains of the talented foreign and Chinese population.

Hi Robert,
Thanks for the well-thought out and eloquent views and feedback. Almost like a Sun Tze strategy paper on geopolitical management. Look forward to more in-depth views from netters. I help run a listed company and despite all the truisms and strategies i have learnt in books, sometimes, I am just too tired to do the strategy-driven things all the time and in the process, got whacked. We just need time and energy to work out the kinks in the system.


Hi Harold,

My point in posting the process management stuff here is precisely to show that Singapore cannot be managed by concepts like leadership or talent alone.

Action people are needed in large number who could translate all the good policies into actions and results.

If this type of leaders like Lim Kim San or Dr. Goh Keng Swee are not found to upgrade the economy, there will be all the talks about upgrading and little progress.

Process Management is very easy. It will automatically motivate people to excel and contribute to actions and results instead of endless concepts and policies which are getting a bit boring and useless.

Find ways and means to motivate and allow citizens to contribute such ideas and diversities.

The YoungPaP has held its 17th Youth leadership training course on 2.8.2007 as posted on its website.

The Youngpap must have witnessed no doubt the various problems confronting the country of late from NKF malpractices to government ministries' incurring financial losses in many projects due to negligence and carelessness as reported by Auditor General and recently to Shin Corp losses etc.

Are the Youngpap's Youth Leadership training course aimed at providing solutions to problems facing the country citizens ?

If not then the citizens will be left wondering what is the purpose of such training if they are not producing the desired results to turn things around.

What is leadership, talents, insight, foresight ? Are leadership, foresight or talents some form of self-centredness or assumptions?

Are all the policies constantly uttered by the leaders too conceptual and unattainable being based on too much look-good assumptions.

Are policies like meritocracy, leadership, pragmatism, anti-welfare taxing and back-charging of all costs to citizens producing the intended results or are people being made to suffer from policies which are no longer working but only causing rising costs of living and loss of economic competitiveness.

Are we building a country where the people are being over-taxed causing our very own domestic economy losing competitiveness for years.

Are we still building a country based on the philosophy of bringing about the greatest benefits of the greatest number?

Should we continue to allow this type of talk-only conceptual leadership while ignoring and passing over genuine problems as unsolvable or just to allow such conceptual leaders to get by?

Are our leaders still as committed as before to sacrifice for the people by working towards bringing about the greatest benefits of the greatest number instead of his own benefits?

Are our leaders interested in building up a system of government which could be participated by the citizens based on accountability, balanced roles, checks and balances, codes of conduct, using objective pre-defined independent assessments.

Are our government leaders working on feedbacks of the people to solve the rising costs of living which are already setting back our competitiveness.

Should such leaders keep the political power to themselves given the above-stated problems and issues and still be excused from all the suffering and wrongs.

Despite many years of rhetorics, and lately from ministers' utterances of nonsense in refusing to grant permit for holding cycling event by WP while allowing youngpap to hold such similar event, it has become increasingly clear that the government has degenerated into one of legalistic wrangling of laws and regulations to maintain political control, taxing and recovering costs and even profiteering depriving people of essential services like medicare, utilities, education, housing, transportation etc.

As a result of such a system of autocratic government, the country has taken a setback since the 1970s with its own domestic economy stagnating, dropping wages, young and educated unemployments.

The domestic economy is being squeezed out of their survival by government's getting into businesses of all sorts to compete with its own citizens.

What happen to all the talents of our own citizens or do we have no talents?

In the fast-paced technology, we need to build collective or distributive leadership whereby all policies and decisions of government are not resting on the desires or self-centredness of a few leaders but are distributed or decentralised through pre-planned work processes to be performed by the whole government team.

Only when a leadership system is so translated into down-to-earth implementation processes with accountability and check and balances will it lead to broad-based participation and knowledge application by the all with the support of the masses.

Therefore considering the above-stated circumstances facing the country as a whole our leaders today should be in possession of not only directional visions or foresight but more importantly they should possess the quality to make good accountable decisions and have the implementation ability to translate all policies and decisions to broad-based knowledge applications and teamwork.

We will need to leaders who were able to empathise with people's problems and suffering as expressed in feedbacks such as the "20 major major government policy errors" given to the Feedback Unit since 2002.

We need ministers and civil servants who could come down from their ivory tower and be able to solve many problems we are facing and to restructure the economy to value-adding technology-driven economy talked about for years.

Perhaps youngpap members who have attended such training courses should share with all whether they have indeed received the kind of leadership training to help solve problems or only to qualify them to gain their own internal promotion.

Do you think the present government is equiped to train the future?
If you teach a person a certain way of doing things, and when test time comes, he or she will do it that way. I believe due to the lack of political discussion, awareness and kids taught to just follow, we may never have the ministers we need. Scholars are good in their field but are they in touch with the people? I believe to a large extent not.

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