Race to find PM Lee's successor is on

Race to find PM Lee's successor is on

SINGAPORE - While Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that his successor has not yet been chosen, his actions over the last few weeks suggest that, at the very least, the field is starting to narrow.

First, there was the appointment of Education Minister Heng Swee Keat - already two years into helming his ministry, and fresh from organising the Our Singapore Conversation - as the chair of a yet another key national committee, one to commemorate Singapore's 50th year of independence.

Then on Wednesday, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing was promoted to full minister and made Second Minister for Defence.

The class of 2011 is meant to form the nucleus of the fourth-generation leadership that is slated to take over in 2020 (depending on a People's Action Party win, of course).

With these recent moves, it would seem clearer who the front runners to be the next PM are.

In Singapore politics, history would suggest that speed matters.

Those who make it to the very highest echelons of political leadership seem to have a few things in common: They are identified very early on, given a lot to do, and rarely look back.

Out of nearly 40 Cabinet ministers since the 1970s, those who rose to the very pinnacle, first became full ministers the fastest among their cohorts and typically in under three years.

To be exact, the two prime ministers after Mr Lee Kuan Yew had been elected for a little over two years before they were made full ministers.

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