Revisiting the succession question
A Malaysian newspaper offers analysis that the local papers would not dare to touch. The Star:
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says he intends to stay in office for 10 more years. If he does, it will result in a record father-and-son tenure as prime minister.
FACED with a host of tough problems that challenges his government’s ability to resolve, the prime minister has made it clear that he intends to stay in office for 10 more years.
The 60-year-old Lee Hsien Loong told an interviewer that he would prefer not to lead beyond then and “definitely not till 80”.
His comments were, however, made in reply to a specific question rather than as a deliberate statement.
“I do not see myself as prime minister in 20 years’ time,” said Lee to the current affair website Singapolitics. “I think if I am, something has gone seriously wrong.”
If he steps down at 70, he would have outdone his father, Lee Kuan Yew, who quit the post in 1990 at the age of 67.
However, Lee Senior had led for 31 years, a much longer period compared to his 18 years if he lasts that long.
One obstacle could be his party’s declining popularity, and the other his health.
But if he pulls it off, it would result in a combined father-and-son tenure as prime minister for a total of 51 years, a record not matched in any other country. …
Lee’s intended stay-on for 10 more years has come as a surprise to many Singaporeans.
Of late, doubts had been expressed whether the PM’s father, Kuan Yew, would contest in the 2016 election. If he calls it a day, it would be the real end of the Kuan Yew era.
By then, the founding leader, who is suffering from a nerve illness (which makes it difficult to walk), would be 93.
In its wake, some observers had believed, it would not be long before PM Lee would also step down. Such talk recently also turned to who would then succeed PM Lee.
The prime minister’s interview has put paid to this talk – at least for now.
Two years ago, PM Lee said the PAP was looking for suitable people in their 30s for a potential leader – not the easiest of tasks anywhere. Most countries would have allowed for a natural political process to evolve by allowing leaders to be tested by competition that would reveal his capability to survive crises.
However, selecting and grooming a 30-year-old under Singapore’s stable non-confrontational politics so that he could take over from PM Lee in 10 to 20 years’ time sounds more practical in theory than in real life.
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Tags: lee hsien loong, lee kuan yew, nepotism, seah chiang nee, succession, the star