Future PM needs courage, steel, ability to lead and connect with the people: Shanmugam

Mr K. Shanmugam viewing a model of the new Automobile Association of Singapore building on Jan 21, 2017.
Mr K. Shanmugam viewing a model of the new Automobile Association of Singapore building on Jan 21, 2017.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - The 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, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam on Saturday (Jan 21).

Paraphrasing founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's words, he said: "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 groundbreaking ceremony for the Automobile Association of Singapore's new building in Kung Chong Road, when 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 said.

On succession plans, Mr Shanmugam added that "the Prime Minister has set out his timetable".

"We look for the next generation of leaders early so that they can come in with a number of years to go still," he said. "And the next generation of ministers will have to choose who is going to lead them."

This follows Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's response on Friday (Jan 20) a question about his involvement in selecting Singapore's next prime minister during a dialogue at The Arts House.

PM Lee had reiterated that the next generation of ministers will choose their own leader, and a team of next-generation leaders is in place.

Those identified as potential candidates include Minister in the Prime Minister'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.

On Saturday, Mr Shanmugam added that "the challenges that Singapore will face are really no different from the challenges that we have faced over 50 years," as they "come from being a small country which has got to take the world as it finds".

"The world is changing, will continue to change, and we have to adapt to that, survive and prosper."