SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday (April 16) that whether he or the new leader of the PAP's fourth-generation (4G) team, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, will lead the ruling party in the next general election is a decision to be made later.
PM Lee was speaking at a press conference at the Istana two days after he announced that Mr Wong was selected as his successor in a process involving Cabinet ministers and members of the 4G team.
PM Lee said: "I will discuss with Lawrence and we will decide later what the best strategy is for us to fight the next general election.
"Whether it is for me to hand over to him first, he consolidates, he leads into the next election as leader of the 4G team and will be in charge after the next election; or I go into the next election leading the PAP, fight the next election, and if we win, after that, Lawrence takes over and then the 4G team goes forward."
He added: "It will depend on how things evolve and is something which we’ll decide later on. Either way, our plan is for Lawrence to be the next PM if the PAP wins the next GE. That has been settled."
The next general election must be held by November 2025.
PM Lee said the political succession process will be done carefully and deliberately.
"I'm already 70, and I'm looking forward to handing over to Lawrence once he is ready. This settling of the succession, we've already taken, is a very important step in the leadership renewal."
PM Lee had previously said he wanted to relinquish his current post before he turned 70 on Feb 10 this year. He later said he would stay on to see Singapore through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Wong - who was at the press conference along with retired minister Khaw Boon Wan, who conducted the 4G leader selection consultation process - said that the PAP does not assume that it will win the next general election.
"Every GE from now on will be about which party will form the government, not just how many seats the opposition wins or what percentage of the votes the ruling party gets," he said.
He added that the demands of his new role will get more challenging with greater political contestation and the growing desire for diversity in Parliament.
"We will work out our strategy to fight the GE and we will work hard to fight for the privilege to serve the people of Singapore in government," said Mr Wong.
"But for now, I will need time to consolidate, to discuss with the team to see what steps we might take, how we would like to organise ourselves to tackle all the pressing challenges," he added.
Mr Wong said he was fully aware that PM Lee would like to hand over to him as soon as he is ready and the Prime Minister has told him this more than once.
"I will bear that in mind as I embark on my new responsibilities.
"I would say this is also the value of our approach to leadership succession, which is that when we seek to renew the mandate, we do so with the strongest possible team that is ready to take on the mantle of leadership. This is how we ensure continuity and stability in our system," said Mr Wong.
Read the full transcript here and watch the full video below: