01/25/2022, 15.48
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Generational change shaking Singapore politics

by Steve Suwannarat

Many Singaporeans have been calling for a generational change in the country’s leadership, from the third (G3) to the fourth (G4) generation since independence. The pandemic has shown that the ruling party needs to attract young people, who are currently drawn to the opposition. But the small city-state rests on a delicate balance, which raises concerns.

Singapore (AsiaNews) – In Singapore, the debate over the country’s leaders has intensified, centred on the need for a broad change in leadership that many have been hoping for some time.

Since the pandemic broke out, the 4G or fourth generation of leaders (since the country’s founding) played a crucial role in tackling the health emergency and the various SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The third generation, that of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has instead shown a growing detachment.

Lee, 69, who became prime minister and secretary-general of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in 2004, reacted to the crisis in a somewhat contradictory manner.

His father, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s long-time strongman, was prime minister between 1959 and 1990.

Determination and coordination will be necessary in order not to negatively affect the country’s economic and social prospects.

For several observers, a generational change is necessary but it will need to be rapid and consistent to avoid repercussions on the small country, which rests on a delicate balance of diversity and interests.

Although the elections of 10 July 2020 saw the PAP keep its hold on power, it also saw the main opposition party, the Worker's Party (WP), make a comeback, increasing its seat count in parliament by attracting younger voters.

However, the ruling party’s tactics, including the adoption of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, have kept the WP at bay limiting its role.

When Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, the leading 4G leader, decided last year not to run to succeed Lee, the change in leadership was put on hold, although developments are expected this year.

“The PAP will need to continue to adapt its leadership to appeal to younger voters,” said Chia Siow Yue, Senior Research Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

In fact, “As they routinely express in writing and on social media, younger people want a more consultative style of governance and accountability, more emphasis on social inclusiveness and justice, and greater environmental sustainability.”

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