Singapore’s political landscape has been experiencing significant shifts in the past year.
In September, we saw Tharman Shanmugaratnam step into the presidency, succeeding Halimah Yacob.
Recently, in October, four opposition parties joined forces in a coalition to counter the People’s Action Party (PAP) and prevent them from securing a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
If you thought that was interesting enough, nope.
Just today, it was announced that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is preparing to pass the PM role before the upcoming General Election (GE).
PM Lee Will Hand Over PM Role to Lawrence Wong Before The Next GE
The announcement came during the PAP’s Awards and Convention held on Sunday (5 November 2023) at the Singapore Expo.
Over 1,000 party members attended the event. It featured speeches from Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and Heng Swee Keat, along with other key figures from the PAP.
Mr Lee said that it was his intention to pass on the leadership baton to Mr Wong ahead of the upcoming GE.
The next GE is scheduled to be held by November 2025.
Expanding on PAP’s transition plans, Mr Lee, who also serves as the party’s secretary-general, mentioned that, if everything goes smoothly, he intends to make this transition by the PAP’s 70th birthday on 21 November next year.
PM Lee said: “Lawrence has told me that he is ready… I have full confidence in Lawrence and his team. There is no reason to delay the political transition.”
Previously, PM Lee had expressed his desire to step down before his 70th birthday, which fell on 10 February 2022.
Unfortunately, the transition was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ministers Endorse Lawrence Wong as Leader of 4G Team
The upcoming GE is set to align with the leadership transition to the 4G team.
Mr Lee highlighted that the ministers had already rallied behind Mr Wong as their leader, a decision that received the endorsement of PAP MPs.
Mr Wong was endorsed as the leader of the party’s fourth-generation, or 4G, team last year.
For PM Lee, the only big question left on the table was when this handover should happen—before or after the next GE.
Choosing to pass the torch to Mr Wong ahead of the GE would mean he takes the helm during the campaign, earns his mandate, and steers the nation forward with the resounding backing of the people, a point strongly emphasised by PM Lee.
“Leadership transition for any country is always tricky. Many things can go awry. Both Singaporeans and people outside Singapore, near and far, are watching very closely. Everything depends on the success of this third transition in our history,” Mr Lee said.
Lawrence Wong Is Working Hard to Prepare for Leadership Transition
Mr Lee said that he took his time to mull over the PM handover after having thorough chats with Mr Wong and ministers from both the 3G and 4G teams.
He commended Mr Wong and the 4G team, saying they’ve been in the game for a while now and handling more significant responsibilities, especially during the challenging COVID-19 period.
The 4G team is also setting the national agenda, such as through the Forward Singapore exercise.
“Therefore, I intend to hand over to DPM Lawrence before the next GE,” said Mr Lee.
During his speech, Mr Wong mentioned that he’s had an extra busy year, lending a hand to Singaporeans as they grapple with the escalating cost of living.
He has also taken on new responsibilities in foreign policy, defence, and security matters while stepping up his contributions within the PAP.