Research Paper on Political Leadership

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1784 Words
Date:  2022-07-15


Political leadership is an essential aspect of society. Herath (2015, p. 35) affirms the importance of political leaders due to the broad impact of their actions, especially for powerful countries. In 1997, according to Jeong (2004, p.5), Kim Dae-Jung was the president of South Korea who led his nation through the transition process of democratization. Previously, the country had been ruled by an authoritarian leader. As a result, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to improve his country's relationship with North Korea and restore peace in Northern Asia (Jeong, 2004, p.5). His efforts to maintain peace with North Korea were implemented through the Sunshine policy. Jeong (2004, p.5) further states that Kim who was born in 1925 began his political career in 1961. For 36 years, he was opposing the government. During this period, he underwent immense torture such as imprisonment, kidnapping, harassment, exile and a death sentence that was not executed (Jeong, 2004, p. 40). Kim became the president when the country was undergoing financial constraints. However, due to his leadership, from 1998 to 1999, the economy moved from -5.8 % to 10.2% (Jeong, 2004, p. 40). On the other hand, Lee Kuan Yew was a political leader who was widely recognized due to the role he played in shaping modern-day Singapore. Lee became the first prime-minister in 1959 and served the most extended term (Patana, 2013, p.3). He later became a Senior Minister after resigning from the duties of the prime minister, but he still commanded a significant level of influence. As Senior Minister, Lee would spend most of his time teaching and discussing the role of Asian values on a country's political leadership (Williams, 2014, p.1). He was a strong advocate of the Asian values and a critic of the Western democracy. Both political leaders played a crucial role in the development of their countries.

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Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this research paper is to perform a comparison of the political leadership and thoughts of Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Dae-Jung. The comparison will be focused on the relationship between political leadership and Asian values. The research can be useful in the development of political leadership strategies to bring cultural change in society. This comparison will also provide an in-depth comprehension of East Asian countries (South Korea and Singapore) and how they achieved economic and political prosperity. This new understanding can be used as a learning platform for developing countries. Understanding the relationship between Asian values and democratic and authoritarian leadership can be used to derive strategies that can strengthen the stability of East Asian countries. Ultimately, the new insights could be used in the maintenance of global peace.


To determine and compare the views of Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Dae-Jung on political leadership.

To determine Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Dae-Jung's views on Asian values and democracy not only in their respective nations but on the entire Asian continent.

To define the Asian values and how they guide Asians to reach prosperity.

To determine how Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Dae-Jung applied the Asian values to enhance their leadership while heading the government of their respective countries.

Research Questions

What were the political leadership and thoughts of Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Dae-Jung during their time in office?

Did Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Dae-Jung have different political leadership and thoughts during their tenure in office?

How did Asian values impact Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Dae-Jung's leadership?

Theoretical Framework

Harry Eckstein's Congruence Theory

Harry Eckstein's congruence theory provides a framework that can be used to explain the relationship between political systems and society. According to Dalton and Ong (2005, p.4), the theory states that a society functions best when the authority patterns of units in a community are in agreement with authority patterns of the political systems used. For example, authoritarian family units are best ruled by dictatorial political systems. Another example is that self-actualization values are associated with the development of democracy (Dalton & Ong, 2005, p.4). Self-actualization encourages autonomy, which leads to liberalization. Liberalization is an integral part of democracy. Based on this theory, units in the society must promote self-actualization for a democratic system of governance. Dalton and Ong (2005, p.5) further state that Asian countries' societal units are inherently paternalistic and some leaders such as Lee Kuan Yew concur, which makes a democratic political system incompatible. However, there are some leaders such as Kim Dae-Jung who think Asian countries are not inherently paternalistic. Therefore, the analysis of the political views of the Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Dae-Jung on the basis of Asian values will reveal the political systems that can be applied in Asian countries based on the congruence theory.

Leadership Theory: Transformational Approach

The leadership theory concerning the transformational approach provides a framework that can be used to analyze political leadership. Jeong (2004, p.68) postulates that transformational type of leadership is where leaders build commitment for an organization's goals and motivate the followers to achieve them. In the case of a country, transformational leaders lead the followers towards change by motivating them. Ultimately, such leaders achieve high levels of morality within a society (Jeong, 2004, p.68). This form of leadership is also related to an organization or a country's culture. The relation emerges from the change in behavior that occurs, which leads to the shift in cultural values (Jeong, 2004, p.68). Research on transformational leadership revealed that such leaders motivate their followers to the point where an organization's objectives transcend their self-interests (Jeong, 2004, p.68). In a country, this situation occurs when leaders change the fundamental values of a society. Further research showed that such leaders are realistic and can build institutions by sharing these values with their followers, which makes them social architects (Jeong, 2004, p.69). In a country setting, this type of a leader brings revolutionary change. Despite its benefits, Jeong (2004, p.73) warns that this aspect of leadership has been associated with paternalistic societies and elitists.

Asian Values

Asian values are a concept that is common in Asian countries. Asian values are derived from Confucius teachings, which are on leadership, virtue, and judgment (Patapan, 2013, p.13). These teachings originated from the Chinese and spread to other Asian countries. Patapan (2013, P.13) argued that the concept of Asian values emerged due to the prosperity of Singapore that exposed it to western influence, which eroded family ties. On the contrary, Barr (2000, p.309) argued that the concept emerged from Lee Kuan Yew as his way of justifying his paternalistic rule in Singapore. According to Lee Kuan Yew, Asian values portray the family as the most significant unit of a country (Patapan, 2013, p.14). Additionally, the concept of Asian values employed by such countries emphasizes human relationships (Barr, 2000, p.309). For example, the relationship between a father and son is likened to that of a leader and citizens. Therefore, Asian values are aimed to instill disciple and obedience on the son or citizens while the leader or father is expected to rule based on his wisdom (Barr, 2000, p.309). Moreover, Asian values have led to the development of the Asian model, which can be defined in the context of the East Asian concept of society. Lee Kuan Yew claimed that East Asian countries view people not as individuals but as part of a family (Zakaria & Yew, 1994, p.113). Therefore, individualism is not encouraged in this ideology. Lee also compared this concept of society to the one adopted by Western countries, where the role of the family is undermined by the government (Zakaria & Yew, 1994, p.113). In this explanation, Lee emphasized the ignorance of the West in assuming that the government can solve all society's problems and neglecting the other units of the community. Ultimately, it is this understanding of Asian values that is used by East Asian countries in governance.

Political Leadership

The concept of leadership in this context is individualistic. According to Jeong (2004, p. 10), leadership is a concept that is individualistic where a leader's characteristic traits enable them to rule. For instance, Lee Kuan Yew's concept of leadership is associated with his belief in Asian values. According to Lee, political leadership is characterized by intelligence, imagination and one's perception of reality (Patapan, 2013, p.10). Leadership is not associated with the average person in society. In particular, only a few elite individuals should be given the opportunity to lead the people (Patapan, 2013, p.19). Additionally, political leadership needs individuals who are highly educated but not career-oriented. Political leadership is supposed to be a calling with the main focus being service for the people. It is this political definition upon which paternalistic societies are formed. In these societies, the authoritarian form of leadership is practiced. Authoritarianism is preferred because it allows decisions of elite individuals to outweigh those of the average people. This form of leadership is practiced by the East Asian communities as earlier mentioned.

Kim Dae-Jung's concept of leadership is also centered on his Asian beliefs. Leadership is a responsibility tasked to the government with the aim of maintaining peace. According to Jung (194, p.194), Kim believed that the government should cater to the needs of society, which guarantees peace. His concept of leadership also entailed the influence of the democratic form of leadership. He believed that people should be accorded the right to decide how they are governed (Jung, 1994, p.194). Lastly, his concept of leadership entailed practicing similar values in the globe to achieve a uniform form of democracy. This belief is expressed in his desire for a global democracy, which means other countries get to implement the Asian values (Jung, 194, p.194).


This research aimed to compare the political leadership and thoughts of Kim Dae-Jung and Lee Kuan Yew. The assumption underpinning this study was that the other factors that affect political leadership and thought of leaders are held constant. The research was qualitative because the focus was on analyzing the behavior of the two leaders and discussing observable outcomes. The methods used to collect data were both primary and secondary. The main source of data was the existing studies and relevant articles on the leadership and thoughts of Lee Kuan Yew and Kim Dae-Jung. The primary sources were written interviews and speeches. These methods of data collection were selected because they are the most reliable in the provision of historical data. During data collection, the keywords used in the selection phase were Kim Dae-Jung's leadership, Lee Kuan Yew leadership, and Asian values. The analysis phase was conducted using the theoretical frameworks outlined in the study. The analysis was conducted on the articles that were discussed in the literature review. These articles were selected on the basis that they provided information that answered the research questions and met the objectives of the study. The thoughts of the two leaders were analyzed based on whether they were related to democracy or Asian values. Political leadership was analyzed based on t...

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