Shanmugam on qualities of next PM

Singapore's future prime minister needs to have courage, steel, be able to lead and connect with the people, and get the buy-in from Singaporeans to set out the nation's path, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday .

Paraphrasing founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's words, he added: "Whoever leads Singapore will have to have the iron in him.

"He has got to be able to lead the people. This is not a game of cards, it's everybody's lives."

Mr Shanmugam was speaking on the sidelines of a ground-breaking ceremony for the Automobile Association of Singapore's new building in Kung Chong Road.

He talked about the qualities a future candidate should have in the context of regional developments such as terrorism and security issues, as well as uncertainties elsewhere in the world.

The future leader should also be able to "look at what is happening (and) take pre-emptive action so that we always land on our feet, and we succeed", he noted.

On succession plans, Mr Shanmugam said "the Prime Minister has set out his timetable", adding: "We look for the next generation of leaders early so that they can come in with a number of years to go still."

PM Lee Hsien Loong on Friday responded to a question about his involvement in selecting the next leader during a dialogue, saying the search is progressing. He reiterated that the next generation of ministers will choose their own leader.

He said a team of next-generation leaders is in place and it was reinforced in 2011, and again last year.

Those identified as potential candidates include Minister in the PM's Office Chan Chun Sing, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Education Ministers Ng Chee Meng and Ong Ye Kung, Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

Mr Shanmugam said "the challenges that Singapore will face are really no different from the challenges that we have faced over 50 years". "The world is changing, will continue to change and we have to adapt to that, survive and prosper."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 22, 2017, with the headline 'Shanmugam on qualities of next PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe