"You must have that culture starting from very young, pre school, primary school, where kids speak up. You don't need to always make sense, you don't need to speak logically, but you've got to have a mind of your own. There’s something to it. I believe in that. What it implies for political culture and systems - you need some humility on this."
Tharman had to eat humble pie during younger days as an Administrative Services officer with MAS, when he was fingered by the ISD as the originating source for leaking the 4.6% flash estimate of economic growth for second quarter 1992 to Business Times journalists. Theories abound about his motive, including one - supported by other civil service figures - that suggested it was part of a strategy to force greater openness in economics statistics and media reporting in Singapore. At a National Day dinner, the horrible person criticised Goh Chok Tong, commenting sarcastically that if he were still prime minister, "he doubted if Business Times would have used illegally obtained or leaked officially figures", an indication that even he thought Tharman had leaked the flash estimates. Twenty-two months passed before the breach of Official Secrets Act (OSA) was prosecuted, and Tharman was let off with a paltry $1,500 fine, an amount that would allow him to contest elections in future as a PAP candidate. Read all about the powerful backers and backroom maneuvering that saved his hide in Ross Worthington's "Governance In Singapore", pages 155 through 164.
Humility comes from the Latin word humilis, which literally means low. If you feel humility in front of someone, you feel small in the grand scheme of things, cognizant that things could have been done better. Sometimes a dose of humiliation (which makes you feel low in a bad way) is necessary for humility to come about. Question is, who's overdue for a lesson in humility?