SINGAPORE - Finance Minister Lawrence Wong has been selected to be the leader of the PAP's fourth-generation (4G) team, paving the way for him to be Singapore's next prime minister.
Cabinet ministers affirmed their choice of Mr Wong, 49, as the leader of the 4G team on Thursday (April 14), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a statement.
This decision was then endorsed by all Government MPs in a party caucus, added PM Lee, who is secretary-general of the PAP.
The statement comes a year after Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced he had decided to step aside as leader of the 4G team, to pave the way for a younger person with a longer runway to lead the country when PM Lee retires.
At the time, the 4G ministers had asked for more time to reach a consensus on their next leader, as the country was still battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
But with the pandemic situation having stabilised recently, they were able to relook the issue of succession.
Giving details of how the decision was reached, PM Lee said that after consulting the ministers, he asked former minister Khaw Boon Wan, a former PAP chairman, to start a process involving the ministers, as well as Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng, both former 4G ministers.
"Mr Khaw met each one of them individually, to sound out their personal views in confidence and to facilitate a new consensus on a 4G leader. The views of the Prime Minister and the two Senior Ministers were not sought," the statement said.
"Mr Khaw found that the overwhelming majority of those consulted, supported Minister Wong as the leader."
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Khaw briefed Cabinet ministers, as well as Mr Tan and Mr Ng, on his findings, and all endorsed the decision for Mr Wong to lead the team.
This decision was subsequently presented to and endorsed by PAP MPs in the evening.
The statement also said PM Lee will make adjustments to Cabinet appointments, and these will be announced in due course.
"This decision on succession is a crucial one for Singapore. It will ensure the continuity and stability of leadership that are the hallmarks of our system," PM Lee said in a Facebook post.
"The right to lead is not inherited. It has to be earned afresh by each generation of leaders. Singapore will always need a strong team in charge, with a leader who can bring others together, and draw out the best of each team member," he added.
"I have every confidence that Lawrence and his team will continue to give their best for Singapore and Singaporeans."
Mr Wong is a co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Covid-19 and was appointed to the key finance portfolio at the last Cabinet reshuffle in May 2021.
He was a senior civil servant before he entered politics at the 2011 general election, and became minister of state for defence and education. He was appointed acting minister for culture, community and youth in November 2012, and promoted to full minister in May 2014.
He became minister for national development in 2015, took on an additional appointment as second minister for finance in 2016, and was made education minister after the 2020 general election. He became finance minister in May 2021.
Mr Wong said in a Facebook post that he was humbled and grateful for the trust and confidence of his colleagues, who have chosen him to lead them, and for the support of his fellow MPs.
"From the very beginning in 1959, our model of political leadership has never been about one person, but the team. Each of us contributes, complements each other, and gives of our best to Singapore," he said.
"My colleagues in the 4G leadership have stood shoulder to shoulder with each other in the fight against Covid-19. The experience of the past two years has cemented our cohesiveness and strengthened our resolve to steward Singapore safely through this crisis and beyond."
He added: "It is my privilege to be called upon to lead this team. I will do my utmost to uphold this responsibility. But as we have been reminded many times, the right to lead cannot be inherited.
"Together with the rest of the 4G team, I will continue to serve Singaporeans wholeheartedly, and strive to earn the trust and support of each and every one of our fellow citizens."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.