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Must Singapore’s leaders be the most well-educated?

The leader man does not have to be the most well-educated. There are a lot of post-docs , but not many of them are in cabinet. You want persons who are capable, you want persons who have gone to school, they should be able to read I presume. But they must know the world and they must know Singapore. So whether you have the formal education or not, you must have that knowledge and you must have that leadership. On person who has very little education, who became an outstanding leader in this age, was a Brazilian previous President, Lula (Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva). He hardly went to school. He was a union leader. Prof Koh: He started as a shoe-shine boy.
PM Lee: I did not know that. PM Lee: But he really started at the bottom, but he became the leader of a nation and a very capable one. So it is possible. If we make sure that bright young kids go to school and get to university like you, then I think there is a good chance that we will find leaders who have been to university. Because we would have been… Sorry, if you ask me I would have said, we should have sent Lula to university years ago. But that was a different society and he grew up like that. And Singapore in that earlier phase, had many people like that. So, many union leaders, many grassroots leaders, many MPs were from very humble backgrounds. Now, as we go ahead, as more people make it into polytechnics, into universities, and from ITE they go into poly and up, I think the chances are that the successful people would have more education. That is a fact. But if you have not completed your education and you are working, we do want to help you keep on doing it, keep on upgrading yourself, and we do want to develop and discover in you, talents and abilities which may not be the sort of thing which you pick up in school, like leadership. And there are people like that. They may never ace in exams or be able to make a speech and move a crowd, but if you are stuck in a sticky spot, that is the person you want to be with you to see you through. And I think we need to find leaders like that for Singapore too.

Reynold King

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