Search for Singapore's next leader is progressing and younger ministers will be the ones choosing him, says PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a dialogue that the search for Singapore's next prime minister is progressing, but reiterated that the next generation of ministers will choose their own leader.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the search for Singapore's fourth prime minister is progressing and that the public can make their own assessments of the contenders.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the search for Singapore's fourth prime minister is progressing and that the public can make their own assessments of the contenders. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore’s younger ministers will not be publicly given report cards by their boss Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on how they are doing in their jobs. But they will decide which one of them will be the country’s next prime minister, said Mr Lee at a dialogue on Friday (Jan 20).

He said that the search for Singapore's next prime minister is progressing, but reiterated that the next generation of ministers will choose their own leader.

Such “report cards” were a practice of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, noted Mr Lee Hsien Loong when answering a question on political succession in Singapore.

“I have my views (on who the next leader should be), but the new team has to gel and have a leader it will support and work with,” he said.

He was speaking at a dialogue at The Arts House, part of a series by the Economic Development Board Society and The Straits Times. 

Political leaders who have been identified as potential candidates for the next prime minister include Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

Mr Lee Hsien Loong has also said that he plans to step down some time after the next general election, which must be held by April 2021.

At the dialogue session, he said that the team of next-generation leaders is in place and was reinforced over the 2011 and 2015 general elections.

The ministers have been given portfolios and responsibilities, where they can demonstrate mastery and gain confidence in what they do, he added.

The public can make their own assessments of the contenders for the top job, said Mr Lee Hsien Loong.

He noted that previous prime ministers were chosen by their peers.

Singapore’s second prime minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong, was chosen by his peers at a meeting after the 1984 general election. 

The process was the same for himself, decided over lunch, he said. With a laugh, Mr Lee Hsien Loong added: “Next time, somebody will host lunch.”