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Singapore’s leadership succession is in disarray. Here’s who could be the next prime minister

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s fastidiously deliberate leadership succession has been thrown into disarray.

Political observers say it is no longer clear who would turn out to be the Asian monetary hub’s next prime minister.  

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat shocked the nation late Thursday, when he introduced that he’ll step apart as the designated successor to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He stated he turns 60 this 12 months, and cited his age as an impediment in steering the nation in a post-pandemic world.

Heng will relinquish his function as finance minister at the next cupboard reshuffle, which native media stated is anticipated in two weeks’ time. Still, he’ll stay as deputy prime minister and coordinating minister for financial insurance policies.

It does throw a spanner in the works in phrases of Singapore’s very fastidiously laid out succession plans, however I do not see that as a physique blow to Singapore’s political renewal.

Eugene Tan

Singapore Management University

“It does throw a spanner in the works in terms of Singapore’s very carefully laid out succession plans, but I don’t see that as a body blow to Singapore’s political renewal,” Eugene Tan, a regulation professor at Singapore Management University and a political observer, advised CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Friday.

Financial markets have been steady on Friday following Heng’s announcement, with the benchmark Straits Times Index inching 0.1% decrease and the Singapore greenback flat towards the U.S. greenback.

Who could be Singapore’s next prime minister?

Analysts have recognized 4 potential candidates who could be chosen by the leadership to turn out to be Singapore’s next prime minister:

  • Chan Chun Sing, 51, who’s commerce and business minister;
  • Ong Ye Kung, 51, who’s transport minister;
  • Lawrence Wong, 48, who’s training minister and co-chair of the nation’s taskforce on Covid-19;
  • Desmond Lee, 44, nationwide improvement minister.

Gillian Koh, deputy director for analysis at the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Policy Studies, stated the males have had some publicity on the worldwide stage. That could assist ease them into the prime job, she stated Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

However, she identified that Wong and Lee, who are each in their 40s, would have “a much longer runway” even when they have been to take over 5 years from now.

The ruling People’s Action Party has ruled Singapore since the nation’s independence in 1965. Leadership transition — Singapore has solely had two to date — is normally an uneventful affair, with a successor recognized a few years earlier than the sitting prime minister steps down.

But even earlier than Heng’s choice to step apart, the nation’s leadership succession plan was upended by the Covid-19 pandemic, stated Tan, the regulation professor.

Lee, the present prime minister, had beforehand stated he was able to retire by the time he turns 70 however later indicated he would delay his handover to see Singapore by way of the Covid-19 disaster.

Lee is 69 this 12 months and stated on Thursday that he would keep on as prime minister till a brand new successor emerges and is able to take over.

“The pandemic has really upended the leadership succession plans, and so … I see DPM (deputy prime minister) Heng as being an unfortunate casualty,” stated Tan, who added that Heng regarded “very much at peace” along with his choice to step apart.

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