SINGAPORE — Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated Sunday he deliberate to bow out and hand over energy to his deputy, Lawrence Wong, late subsequent yr, earlier than the 2025 normal election.
Lee, 71, initially supposed to retire earlier than turning 70, but it surely was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has served as head of the long-ruling Folks’s Motion Occasion, or PAP, and as prime minister since 2004. Final yr, he named Wong, who can be finance minister, as his designated successor.
“I’ve full confidence in Lawrence and his crew and there’s no purpose to delay their political transition. Due to this fact, I intend at hand over to DPM (Deputy Prime Minister) Lawrence earlier than the subsequent normal election,” Lee stated at a celebration convention.
He stated passing the baton to Wong earlier than the nationwide polls will permit the 50-year-old politician to win his personal mandate and take the nation ahead.
“If all goes nicely, I’ll hand over (to Wong) by PAP’s seventieth birthday subsequent yr” in November 2024, Lee stated with out giving a precise date.
Pausing to carry again his tears, an emotional Lee stated he was grateful for the time he had served, and that he would do his utmost to assist Wong and his new crew.
“After (handing over), I shall be on the new PM’s disposal. I’ll do wherever he thinks I will be helpful. I’ll do my greatest to assist him battle and win the subsequent GE (normal election),” Lee added.
Wong, who got here to prominence in serving to to coordinate Singapore’s battle towards COVID-19, would be the city-state’s fourth chief since independence in 1965.
He was picked by PAP because the doubtless successor to Lee after then Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was earlier tipped to succeed Lee, withdrew his nomination. Heng bowed out after the PAP, one of many world’s longest-serving events, suffered its worst election efficiency in 2020. Though the PAP retained its tremendous majority, it misplaced some seats and assist slipped.
Lee is the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, who turned Singapore’s first prime minister and constructed the resource-poor city-state into one of many world’s richest nations throughout 31 years in workplace. Nevertheless it has additionally been criticized for tight authorities management, media censorship and use of oppressive legal guidelines and civil lawsuits towards dissidents.