Singapore preparing for a leadership change
by Steve Suwannarat

In office since 2004, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong could step down in favour of Finance Minister Lawrence Wong after the ruling party gave the thumbs up. Wong, who faces the post-pandemic economic situation, is well-liked by Singaporeans.

Singapore (AsiaNews) – The city-state is preparing for a leadership change but the path could still be long.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has been in office since 2004, is expected to resign in favour of Lawrence Wong, the current finance minister, who was recently chosen by the ruling party.

Wong was chosen by 15 of the 19 stakeholders of the People's Action Party, which has governed Singapore since independence in 1965. The next general election is set for November 2025.

Lee could give up the day-to-day running of the country to play “senior minister” or “minister mentor” like his father, Lee Kwan Yew, who was also prime minister.

As finance minister, Wong, 49, has had to handle the difficult economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an eye on its future consequences.

He was welcomed by the prime minister as leader of the fourth generation, after Lee Kwan Yew, Goh Chok Tong, and Lee Hsien Loong who ran the city-state's 15 legislatures so far.

The COVID-19 epidemic delayed the succession, which had been expected to take place after the 2020 election, as indicated by the 62-year-old Lee himself.

The ability to coordinate the forces in the field to face the main obstacles for the country will be decisive for Wong’s leadership.

“My philosophy in life, instilled by my parents from young, is that whatever task I'm assigned, I will give of my best,” Wong said at a press conference last Saturday

Many in Singapore already appreciate this attitude. What is more, Wong has shown a human touch and shared the hardships with the population at the worse moments of the pandemic.

Such qualities have also allowed him to overcome the hostility sparked by the increase in the value added tax that will provide S.5 billion (about US$ 2.5 billion) to public coffers.