Other pressing issues for 4G ministers to focus on besides leadership succession: Indranee Rajah

SINGAPORE - While leadership succession is a pressing issue, Singapore's fourth-generation ministers want to focus on other important topics such as jobs and social issues, said Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah on Sunday (Jan 7).

She acknowledged that there has been speculation about the next Prime Minister, but this is not something the younger ministers want to be fixated on, she told reporters at the launch of a programme to provide breakfast for children living in rental blocks in Tanjong Pagar GRC.

"It's a question that people ask, and we also recognise it's a pressing issue. But it's not the kind of thing you want to be fixated upon, simply because there are other pressing issues like the economy, jobs, social and fiscal sustainability," she said.

"Even when you talk about future leadership, you talk about all of this, at the end of the day, what is this for? It's about ensuring stability for Singapore, it's ensuring that as a country we have strong leadership and that we are able to progress."

Her comments come after a joint statement made last Thursday (Jan 4) by 16 of the ruling People's Action Party's younger ministers saying they would pick a leader among themselves "in good time".

Ms Indranee is among the 16.

 
 
 

They were responding to queries after Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong's Facebook post made on New Year's Eve, in which he highlighted the urgent challenge of choosing Singapore's next leader and said he hoped the current cohort would do so in six to nine months.

PM Lee Hsien Loong can then formally designate this person as the next PM before 2018 is over, Mr Goh added.

On Saturday, Mr Goh said that his post was meant to elicit a response from the fourth-generation leaders. Referring to the statement by the 16 PAP younger leaders, he said he had achieved his purpose.

Beyond having to decide on who to lead, the younger ministers are also concerned about taking a team approach, Ms Indranee stressed. They believe it is important to have a collegiate approach, and to work well together as a team with the entire Cabinet, she said.

When asked about names emerging as likely contenders for the post of Prime Minister, she said that will be addressed "in good time".

"Essentially the 16 have said what we have to say about this. It's really not about us, it's about Singapore."