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BLOG: Why the Singapore PM needs a Facebook page

Zafar Anjum | April 26, 2012
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong joins social media. It should not be seen just as a rite of passage for a statesman. It is an act of statecraft in the age of “virtual” politics.

Why I say this is crucial for the PM can be best illustrated by an example.

In his bestselling business book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins says that one of the secrets of good to great companies (individuals too) is that they confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith in themselves.

He gives the example of Britain's wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Churchill had a strong and charismatic personality. "Your strength of personality can sow the seeds of problems, when people filter the brutal facts from you. You can overcome the liabilities of having charisma but it does require conscious attention," says Collins.

Churchill, says Collins, understood the liabilities of his strong personalities and he compensated for them brilliantly during the Second World War.

How did he do it?

Even though he maintained a bold and unwavering vision that Britain would not just survive but prevail as a great nation, Churchill did not fail to confront the brutal facts of the war. What were the brutal facts? In its darkest days, nearly all of Europe and North Africa was under Nazi control and United States hoped to stay out of the conflict. Yet he said, "We are resolved to destroy Hitler and every vestige of the Nazi regime. From this nothing will turn us - nothing. We will never parley, we will never negotiate with Hitler or any of his gang. We shall fight him by land, we shall fight him by sea, we shall fight him in the air, until with God's help we have rid the earth of his shadow and liberated its peoples from his yoke."

Churchill succeeded despite the odds because he did not allow others to filter the brutal facts from him. "So, early in the war," writes Collins, "he created an entirely a separate department outside the normal chain of command, called the Statistical Office, with the principal function of feeding him-continuously updated and completely unfiltered-the most brutal facts of reality."

That is the point. In the changed times, Facebook and Twitter are a means of getting unfiltered feedback from the electorate.

Brutal or not, by joining Facebook and Twitter, PM Lee can confront the facts. He can go to bed peacefully at night, and like Churchill, tell himself, "Facts are better than dreams."

Zafar Anjum is the online editor of MIS Asia, CIO Asia, Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia.

 

 

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