SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talked frankly about issues ranging from the next General Election and new-generation leaders to bread-and-butter in a lively radio show last night.
He was answering questions from radio deejays and live call-in listeners in On Air With Minister, a programme on Chinese station Capital 95.8FM.
When asked by a radio presenter when the next GE would be held, Mr Lee used the analogy of a pregnancy in his reply in Mandarin.
He said the timing is unlike giving birth as there is some predictability as to when the baby will be born.
When asked by the radio presenter whether the 'baby has been conceived', PM Lee said the baby has "already been conceived earlier on".
"I think it won't be long now...at least within the next two years," he said. The general election must be held by January 2017.
He also told listeners not to take the polls lightly as the country's leadership renewal would be an important issue in the coming contest, just like in past GEs.
He said it was dangerous for voters to assume that since the ruling People's Action Party is likely to form the government, it is safe to consider giving some seats to the Opposition.
PM Lee said he expects the Opposition to contest in every group representation constituency, unlike in previous polls.
If it turns out to be the case, it will be a "deadly serious fight", he said, repeating the same warning he had given to PAP activists at a rally in December last year.
"In such a situation, every vote is important, every Singaporean's decision has an impact, we have to consider it carefully," he cautioned over the air last night.
On leadership renewal, Mr Lee said half of the next generation of political leaders, picked from the 2011 GE, is already in place. He said potential ministers will be among the slate of newcomers to be introduced at the next GE.
Mr Lee noted that as times have changed, Singapore can no longer be ruled by a parenting style of leadership. The leadership must adjust its approach while Singaporeans should be more involved in the discussion of national issues.
During the one-hour show, Mr Lee also answered listeners' questions on the pressure on students in the education system, rehiring seniors and the lack of graciousness in a fast-paced society.
On education, he hopes society would shift its mindset away from an overemphasis on academic credentials.
Writing on his Facebook post after the show, PM Lee said he had a lively discussion with the radio deejays as well as the callers. "Like I told one caller, it is crucial for leaders to stay close to citizens," he wrote. Such programmes gave him a "valuable chance to hear what ordinary Singaporeans think and feel".
"We chatted on a wide range of topics, from PSLE stress and job prospects to the competitiveness of our port. All these issues show how we always want to do better - for ourselves, our children, and Singapore. We also touched on lighter topics, like my photos on FB, and taking up pilates."