Neither Civil Nor Servant, by Peh Shing Huei
[Image courtesy of Kinokuniya]
I’ve long heard of the legendary Philip Yeo from friends in the civil service who have had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it) to work in organizations led by him. I’ve also read numerous infamous quotes from him in other people’s memoirs or books on Singapore’s history. But I’ve only seen him speak in person once, and frankly, I wasn’t impressed by his mastery of the English language. What impressed me was the clarity and conviction with which he spoke, something sorely lacking in many of the public servants I see today.
Peh did a pretty good job in putting Yeo’s life achievements in a clear and succinct way that makes the biography a simple yet meaningful read. The Q&A at the back of each chapter gives the reader his direct responses to some of the issues described in the chapter, and provides a really good insight into how the man thinks.
I was actually sorry the book ended so quickly, because I was still thirsty for more of Philip Yeo’s war stories!
VERDICT: If you’re looking for new inspiration on leadership and talent management, this might just be the book for you.