DPM Heng steps aside as 4G leader

Next GE reasonable timeframe to decide next leader: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called the next general election - which must be held by November 2025 - a "reasonable timeframe" to work towards deciding who will helm the country's top post.

This timeframe, he said, was also the reason why the team decided to come out with this issue now rather than wait until a new leader is identified - "because the neatest thing to do would be one person steps aside while another person immediately steps into place, and it is seamless".

"And if it was something which you could do within a few days or weeks, or even a couple of months, I think it is something which we would have seriously considered - in that case, let's finish a process, line up everything neatly and then go out with one announcement," he added.

"But if we are talking about a process which is likely to take a few years, then once the first development has taken place - that you know that the minister is stepping aside - I think that is important material information which is our responsibility to tell our stakeholders. They have to know, the ministers have to know, the public has to know.

"And amongst the ministers, amongst the team, knowing this, you will have to re-shape and reconfigure the relationships and responsibilities in order that a new balance will be struck, and a new person can emerge and not be frozen into an old position which is no longer reflective of what is actually going to happen."

The public also has to know what the real status is, the Prime Minister said, in order to know what progress is being made and where they stand.

He likened this to a listed company which has clear obligations to make such information public within a quick time, which is what the Government has done.

Acknowledging that there are different models for different countries, he said that in Singapore, it is not just about wanting a younger minister with energy and a long enough runway, but also a system "where we are able to carry this from PM to PM, from government to government, and have a system which will provide high-quality government for the long term for Singapore".

"And that is what I would like to be able to do."

Grace Ho

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'Next GE reasonable timeframe to decide next leader: PM Lee'. Subscribe