S’poreans will know in 2018 who shall be next Prime Minister after Lee Hsien Loong

S’poreans will know in 2018 who shall be next Prime Minister after Lee Hsien Loong

Mothership.SG·2017-12-27 11:05

Here’s something Singaporeans can look forward to in 2018: Finding out who our next Prime Minister will be.

A Today on Dec. 26 has laid out the rough timeline and expectations in the new year, as the political crystal ball-gazing has began in earnest.

Cabinet reshuffle

First up, Singaporeans should expect a Cabinet reshuffle early next year.

Cabinet changes are expected to take place shortly after the Budget statement traditionally delivered in February or March and before the middle of next year.

Why is it important?

This is an important first step: Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong and PM Lee both assumed the post of Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) before taking over the hot seat.

They served for two terms as DPM.

Therefore, Singapore’s next Prime Minister will likely be appointed DPM in the reshuffle, which would not only give the successor exposure and prepare him for the top job, but also allow the public to get used to the idea this person is the next top man.

The changes will also allow more new ministers to helm their own ministries.

Cabinet changes are routine

This would be the fourth set of Cabinet changes since the start of the incumbent government’s term in January last year.

However, by a lot of analysts’ reckoning, PM Lee has left it late in giving the public an idea of who his potential successors could be.

This is so as the next generation of leaders need enough time to step up before the next General Election (GE) due by Jan 2021.

That is less than three years away come 2018.

The public has been left guessing.

Past PMs as example

Political succession in Singapore has so far been carried with almost clockwork efficiency.

Goh Chok Tong

Singapore’s second prime minster, Goh Chok Tong, being selected as top man, gave Singaporeans a taste of what succession looked liked after 31 years of continuous rule by the late Lee Kuan Yew who was the first prime minister.

The second-generation leaders picked Goh as the first DPM in 1985. It was a clear indication he was the one as the official handover was in November 1990.

Lee Hsien Loong

And if efficiency is the order of the game, PM Lee’s naming as the third leader of Singapore was even more efficient.

Right after taking over the reins in November 1990, Goh picked PM Lee as his second-in-command.

In his 2003 National Day Rally speech, Goh announced his choice for Prime Minister.

Lee Hsien Loong was sworn into premiership a year later in 2004.

Current succession plan unique

PM Lee is 65 this year.

He has said he would not like to be Prime Minister beyond 70 years old. He has been PM since August 2004.

Goh was 63 when he stepped down after almost 14 years in charge.

Lee Kuan Yew left the top job at 67 after leading the country for 31 years.

This means PM Lee is highly likely to be the oldest Prime Minister Singapore has seen.

Potential successors

According to Today, the list of potential successors has narrowed to just three: Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing and Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung.

Heng is 56, while Chan and Ong are both 48.

Who is the front-runner has remained vague.

Analysts interviewed pointed out Heng’s health scare in May 2016 and Ong’s fewer years spent as part of the ruling government as factors to consider.

You can read the full Today analysis .

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Singapore Politics Government