4 key challenges ahead for Singapore's next 4G leader

Insight looks at the main issues that lie ahead for Singapore's next 4G leader and the traits needed to handle them. PHOTOS: ST FILE, AFP

SINGAPORE - A younger leader with a long enough runway to tackle the huge challenges of a post-pandemic world is what Singapore needs, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat when he stepped aside as the leader of the fourth-generation team.

As the 4G political office-holders deliberate over their next leader, Insight looks at the main issues that lie ahead and the traits needed to handle them.

Finding sweet spot amid volatile global landscape for next 4G leader

4G ministers (clockwise from top left) Chan Chun Sing, Ong Ye Kung, Lawrence Wong and Desmond Lee. PHOTOS: ST FILE

Singapore's economy has just registered its first quarterly growth since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with gross domestic product growth this year likely to exceed the upper end of the official 4 per cent to 6 per cent forecast range.

Some Covid-19 measures have lapsed in tandem with the recovery, and wage subsidies under the Jobs Support Scheme have tapered. But recovery is uneven.

The export-oriented manufacturing sector has charged ahead, while the construction and services sectors are still affected by mobility curbs.

Small and medium-sized enterprises which lack deep pockets and digital smarts have a more muted outlook, said Association of Small and Medium Enterprises vice-president Ang Yuit.


Next 4G leader will need strong negotiating skills, ability to rally support: Analysts

The next fourth-generation, or 4G, leader has to navigate a rocky geopolitical landscape.

Vaccine nationalism has led to rich nations buying up Covid-19 vaccines in excess of their own needs.

The Covax programme - an effort to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries - has delivered about 40 million doses so far, well short of the 100 million doses originally targeted by end-March.


Next 4G leader will need to explain vision amid more critical, diverse voices

Whether globally or domestically, the coming years will be a time of change and upheaval for Singapore, with Covid-19 having sparked paradigm shifts in industry and trade, and the political landscape at home becoming more diverse and competitive.

In this regard, observers say, there will be a new premium on a leader who is not only a visionary, but who can sell the new vision to Singaporeans.

Even after the Covid-19 health crisis is under control, few expect things to return to normal.


New PAP leader will need to rally party and country: Analysts

Ever since Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said he would step aside for a younger person to lead the People's Action Party's fourth-generation team, speculation has been rife about factionalism within the ruling party.

The ideal outcome, for the greater good of the party, would be to select a leader who clearly commands the confidence of his colleagues, say observers.

For now, no obvious front runner has pulled ahead of the others.

But with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong having said he does not want to stay on longer than necessary and the clock ticking, party members have privately commented that the 4G team would need to quickly decide on a leader so as not to leave everything in "limbo".


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