Leaders need to present people with a vision: de Klerk

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A good leader needs to identify the necessity for change and provide a clear vision before seeking to convince others that supporting that vision will benefit themselves and future generations, former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk said Thursday in Taipei.

Speaking at a Taipei forum attended by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), de Klerk talked about the role of leaders in guiding change and innovation.

"The task of the leader, ladies and gentlemen, is not to hear what the people want and then give it to them," he said.

"The real challenge for real leadership is to convince people what is best for them," which in the process of achieving the goal may take some sacrifices to achieve, he noted.

However, in the longer run, the vision will be in the benefit of themselves and more importantly benefit the next generation, de Klerk added.

After identifying the need, the next challenge for a leader is to formulate a concise goal before convincing his or her voters to back it up, he noted.

De Klerk was the last president of apartheid-era South Africa. He is known for working together with Nelson Mandela to end the country's system of racial segregation and ushering in multiracial democracy, for which they jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

Taking his country as an example of such leadership, de Klerk said in the 1980s, South Africa and its people "were caught up in the downward spiral of violence and continuing repression."

"We were in the wrong place. We had to admit to ourselves that where we stood is morally indefensible and therefore we have to change fundamentally," he said.

De Klerk made the comments during his keynote speech at the two-day Yushan Forum that kicked off Thursday in Taipei.

The annual forum was launched in 2017 to promote Taiwan's regional status and supports government efforts to forge a broader relationship with countries covered under its New Southbound Policy, according to organizers.

(By Joseph Yeh)
Enditem/AW