GE about a strong core of leaders: PM

GE about a strong core of leaders: PM
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singapore's current leadership has a responsibility not only to run the country and keep it going, but also to make sure there is depth in the Cabinet and Parliament, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

It also has a duty to prepare for succession so that in good time, a new team is able to take over and take Singapore further forward.

"And you don't have a government that becomes older and older every year," he added.

Mr Lee reiterated a message made by other senior People's Action Party (PAP) leaders in recent days - a major issue at the coming General Election is that of renewing the nation's leadership at the highest ranks and on the backbench.

"That is one of the important issues in this election, to have a strong core so that Singapore has the best chance of bringing forward the stability, the prosperity, the confidence (it currently has) and to be able to celebrate whether SG60 or 70 or 80," he added.

"Renewal is a work in progress, never done," he said yesterday.

Mr Lee was speaking to reporters at a press conference introducing the party's candidates for Ang Mo Kio GRC, and Sengkang West and Hougang SMCs.

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean noted in an interview that a good number of current ministers are in their 60s.

Yesterday, PM Lee was also asked about the implication for leadership renewal in view of Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's decision to leave politics at the general election. Mr Lui turns 54 today.

Mr Lee emphasised his regret at Mr Lui's decision to leave politics, and said that finding a new minister is not an easy task. "It's a loss to us. Tuck Yew has been doing a very good job in transport," he said.

"Regrettably, we were not able to change his mind, and so we have to respect his decision. It means I have a significant loss for my team. It means that I will need to reinforce the team even more."

On the issue of leadership renewal, Mr Lee also noted that besides identifying candidates with the right potential, time is required to assess whether they are suitable for office and to try them out.

"It is not something which we do one-off, when an MP gets elected, but progressively over the years as we watch them in Parliament or on the ground," he said.

"When we find people suitable, we will appoint them," Mr Lee added, citing Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah and Senior Parliamentary Secretary Faishal Ibrahim as examples of backbenchers who have been promoted.

He also noted that the 2011 election saw members of the fourth-generation leadership elected, including ministers Heng Swee Keat, Lawrence Wong, Tan Chuan-Jin and Chan Chun Sing.

"In the next election, I will be bringing in more people to complement and reinforce them. I have a good nucleus but I need to reinforce that team," he added.

Yesterday, Mr Lee introduced two new members of his Ang Mo Kio GRC slate and a new face for Hougang SMC. The PAP slate in Ang Mo Kio GRC will be up against a team from the Reform Party, which contested there in 2011, while Sengkang West will be contested by the Workers' Party.

Even as the PAP began introducing its candidates last week, the opposition has yet to do so formally.

But party leaders and potential candidates have been more active on the ground in recent weeks, and this continues today.

rchang@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 16, 2015.
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