Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong retiring before next election

SINGAPORE, 7 Nov 2022:

Singaporean prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, said his designated successor – current finance minister Lawrence Wong – will take over in the next elections, which are expected in 2025 and could end the Lee dynasty’s era of leadership in the city-state.

Lee – son of the “father” of the country, Lee Kuan Yew – said so during a speech delivered yesterday during the meeting that the People’s Action Party – in charge of the country since its independence from Malaysia in 1965 – holds every two years to elect its central executive committee.

“Governing is never about making easy decisions,” Lee told party members, insisting it is “imperative” to keep Singaporeans on their side to ensure they retain power and have a strong mandate after the next election in a speech released on his Facebook account.

The prime minister, in power since 2004 and who turned 70 this year, the age limit he had anticipated to retire, said in April that Wong, 49, had been elected leader of the so-called “fourth generation” of the party and consequently his successor, although it was unknown when the transfer would take place.

The 2025 elections will apparently mark the end of the “Lee” era, marked by the transformation by the father of the current leader in Singapore from an island of fishermen to one of the most prosperous countries in the world, with no more apparent members of that political lineage.

It is not the first time that Lee Hsien Loong, serving his fifth term, has spoken openly about retiring from the political arena, especially after overcoming prostate cancer in 2015.

Wong would be the fourth leader in the history of the country and only the second not belonging to the Lee dynasty, after Goh Chok Tong (in power between 1990 and 2004).

But the current finance minister, who also acts as deputy prime minister, said during the party’s meeting against assuming a victory by default – after the party lost a record number of seats to the opposition Party of the Democratic Party in the 2020 elections.

“While we elect good candidates to fight for each seat, we have to be prepared not to win them all or take it for granted that we will form the next government,” Wong said, as the island also battles inflation.

“The era of inflation and low interest rates of the last decades has come to an end.”

Singapore, one of the countries with the highest GDP per capita in the world, with a government model that combines capitalism with a tight control of freedoms, is struggling to remain an international financial centre after the withdrawal of many multinational firms due to the pandemic.