(Next) PM: From 4G back to 3G?

Sense And Nonsense - by Tan Bah Bah

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There is a very strange rhythm to all the talk about who the next Prime Minister will be. Where is it leading to, exactly? Follow the trail closely.

Since PM Lee Hsien Loong said he would be stepping down by 2021, we all expected that he would clarify his decision of who his successor would be by then. No one was hurrying him since he has three years between now and 2021 and the 4G ministers have already been in place. Until Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s Facebook reminder that time is running out.

What was Goh up to? Did he throw in the thunderflash on his own? Speculation in the mainstream media differed. I saw one report that he must have had clearance from the top before he wrote his comment that the issue should be settled early, in six to nine months, to give the anointed next PM enough time to settle down. Another hinted that Goh did it without consulting PM Lee. Does it really matter?

Two other reactions seemed to suggest it was not something that people were nervously biting their fingernails over.

We are aware of our responsibility, we will act in good time, said16 PAP office-holders, including the three frontrunners, Heng Swee Keat, Chan Chun Sing and Ong Ye Kung. So, back off, we will take our time.

Then there was Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah:

“That topic has been over-discussed…essentially the 16 have said what we need to say about this. It’s really not about us, it’s about Singapore. While leadership succession is a pressing issue, Singapore’s 4G ministers want to focus on other important topics such as jobs and social issues.”

If we want to stretch the take-it-easy-we-know-what-we-are-doing attitude a little further, we need not look beyond PM Lee’s NDP Rally speech last year, just six months ago. The focus was on diabetes, preschools and Smart Nation. Not a whisper on leadership succession.

Whether Goh had to seek permission to say what he had to say is beside the point. PM Lee was not being fair when he said Goh was no longer responsible for making it (choosing the next PM) happen. The ESM was qualified to share his concern. He had the experience of having been through a similar probationary period, as DPM under probation and as the PM mentoring the PM-to-be Lee Hsien Loong. If he could not speak up, what’s the reason for being ESM? Put more succinctly, would PM Lee have chided his father, Lee Kuan Yew, if he is alive and said the same thing as Goh?

Then again, coming back to the very noble crescent-and-moon flag flying statement by Indranee Rajah, “it’s not about us, it’s about Singapore”. Right. Agree. The country is bigger than anyone or any family or any political party.

My speculative take is this: For some reason, a kite was flown, not quite to focus on who of the 4G “frontrunners” will be the fourth PM of the Republic.

The exercise will serve a number of purposes, not all totally linked, with one or two standalone.

The first one will, of course, be to find out the public’s response to each of the three frontrunners. Which of the trio is the most acceptable, if a choice has to be made, willy nilly?

Related to this is: Is anyone even regarded as up to the mark? If not, why?

The second is: If anyone of the three is pushed through, whatever his weaknesses, what would be the possible consequences? A weakened government, a diminished PAP, a less connected, leaderless ruling party?

Third, a corollary of the second reason: Should Singaporeans be primed for a collegial system of government where it does not matter whether we have a clear leader so long as a strong team is in charge.

Fourth, can voters consider two other scenarios?

Pick Tharman Shanmugaratnam, 60,  as the interim PM until the next one is truly ready. On every count – ability, experience, intellect, public standing, charisma except race and maybe age –  he should be a shoo-in. Some people have already said so.

Or, as has been floated in The Straits Times by Elgin Toh: Why not have PM Lee continue beyond 70? The PM is 65 but will be 66 this Saturday, Feb 10 (so happy birthday). Mind you, it is not Warren Fernandez, Chua Mui Hoong (Opinion Editor) or Lin Xueying (Political Editor), the big guns whose names are in the ST masthead who is asking the $410 billion question but the Insight Editor, a relatively non-big gun, with all due respects to Elgin. The $410 billion is our GDP.

And so we come one full circle. Watch this space.

Should PM Lee lead beyond 70?

Sense And Nonsense is a weekly series. Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a local magazine publishing company.

54 COMMENTS

  1. PM Lee shouldn’t lead beyond 70s not because of his age but because even now he is not doing much that can contribute to Singapore. He can retire and take up the hobby of photography and leave the job of running the country to someone more capable. We should still believe in meritocracy and not on dynasty.

  2. Disappointed to all PAP who be MP I not ready care they don’t take care us , other country free visit doctor like US even Malaysia only 0.50 , they don’t say only pick choose

  3. DID THE MONEY GOD GAVE HIM A GUARANTEE CERTIFICATE THAT HE WILL BE AROUND UNTIL 2021? THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO GOES TO BED TONIGHT WHO DO NOT EVEN KNOW FOR SURE THAT THEY WILL BE AROUND TOMORROW. THEREFORE THE MOST SENSIBLE THING FOR HIM TO DO IMMEDIATELY IS TO INSTRUCT HIS TRUSTEES IF HE HAS NOT DONE SO ON WHAT TO DO WHEN HE DIE.

    • Kee Chiu his warmer for Son.LHL still in Cabinet Kee Chiu is Only Puppet. LHL n GCT they are Puppets to Lau Lee at that time.LKY in Control till his Last Days.Now LHL copy cat.

  4. he want to pass over to someone that would ensure whatever he done is not “changed” or worse “contradicted” or worse discovered…..n the rest of cabinet is focus on best man criteria, so that prob his dilenma

  5. Now 4 in Race have increase to 16. Is Delaying Tactic, Still want to be Prime Minister.Two backers the Two Deputies. Salaries is Good.so stay long long less responsibilites.

  6. I have to agree to Brendan Chong, but then again Singaporean are just CHICKEN and worry that such change will have GREAT Impact….BUT nevertheless it does not matter to me after all being here for 50 year I’ve seen too much and that even when our Late PM calls Malaysia & Indonesia as Cronism/Corrupted/Nepolism or even China as Corruption…..Just tell me TODAY 2018 what the different between Singapore Government or ruling party, isn’t they too got corrupted “LEGALLY” and “Greedy” Legally.

    It took Late LKY 50 damn years to built Singapore from a Fishing Village to what it is today and he flatted the island to make it what it is today and damn it it told his group of team to clean Ah Long, Pirate Taxi and Casino.

    But it take the son (Pinky) to legalise Casino and bring in 2 Large Casino and legalised MoneyLending to license Money Lending in just 5 years and amendment of our CPF core vaalue to Indirect Cheating making-up HDB which also lost its core value which ALL these monies are “Channel” to the Ministers and MP’s Pay-Package.

    BUT it took his Grand-children from PINKY children 5 months to bring in the Grab & Uber to bring back “Pirated-Taxi” and thus SUPPRESSING the taking of Taxi-Driver which then boils down to 2 common FACTORS.

    Namely:
    1. Bring in Foreign Talents and Giving out PR & Citizenship to foreigner in order to have wages for Singaporean = Suppression in Monthly Wages/Pay Increases

    2. Bring in Uber & Grab thus causing Singaporean older or uneducated lost of income or suppression of taking as Taxi Driver = Suppression Taking of Taxi Driver

    With this Suppression …didn’t Singaporean realise our Ministers and MPS are using our excuses to justified their purposes examples:

    When we complaint about Not enough Taxi then they choose to leverage on the Uber & Grab as an alternative and thus pushing more cars out making money from their COE and thus suppression on issuing COE to Singaporean on Cars and ultimately driving Price up.

    SO For GOD sake you all Singaporean have to band up and make change for your future generation, I’m ashame of each and everyone of you ALL Singaporean especially those Civil Servants who are Singapore playing OUT their very Relatives & Friends …SELFISH

  7. 1) I’M “NOT” ANYBODY’S PUPPET OR SACRIFICIAL OBJECT
    2) PLS NOTE THAT EVEN LKY AND HIS WIFE DO NOT FORCE THEIR
    OWN DAUGHTER, DR LWL, TO GET MARRIED AT ALL.
    3) SO DO MY OWN BIOLOGICAL MOTHER DO NOT FORCE ME TO GET
    MARRIED TOO
    ========================================================

    THE SHIT CHANNELNEWSASIA KEEP SHOWING NEWS ON CANADA, PHILIPPINES AND RUSSIA (ASSUMING TO REPRESENT TIMOTHY GO BECOS HE HOLDS BOTH FILIPINO AND CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP)

    I ALREADY SAID, I HV NO INTEREST IN THIS SHIT MAN, TIMOTHY GO AT ALL. WE HV NEVER MET EACH OTHER AT ALL. WE HV “NO” RELATIONSHIP AT ALL.

    I HV TESTED HIM OUT AND HE IS TRULY “NOT” THE RIGHT MAN FOR ME AND ALSO, “NOT” THE RIGHT WORKING PARTNER AT ALL.

    AS I SAID, WHOEVER WANTS TO ASSOCIATE ME WITH TIMOTHY GO, GET YOURSELF MARRIED TO HIM, OR GET YOUR SPOUSE OR DAUGHTERS TO MARRY HIM.

    SINCE THE SHIT CNA STAFF STILL INSISTS ON ASSOCIATING ME WITH TIMOTHY GO, THEN ALL THE SHIT FEMALE CNA STAFF CAN HV SEX WITH TIMOTHY GO. AND THOSE MALE CNA STAFF CAN BRING YOUR SPOUSE OR DAUGHTER TO HV SEX WITH TIMOTHY GO.

    I’M “NOT” ANYBODY’S PUPPET OR ANYBODY’S “SACRIFICIAL OBJECT”. DON’T TRY TO MANIPULATE ME FOR YOUR OWN SELFISH MEANS.

    I DON’T SACRIFICE MY SACRED BODY AND HAPPINESS FOR SOMEONE WHOM I HV NEVER MET BEFORE AT ALL. AND WORSE STILL, SOMEONE I DON’T THINK IS SUITABLE FOR ME AT ALL.

    WHICH LAW IN THE WORLD STATES THAT ONE MUST GET “ATTACHED” OR GET “MARRIED” BEFORE ONE IS ABLE TO WORK?

    NOT EVEN MY OWN BIOLOGICAL MOTHER HV FORCED HER OWN DAUGHTER OR HER OWN SON TO GET MARRIED AT ALL. WHO ARE YOU ROTTON PEOPLE TO FORCE ME TO GET MARRIED?

    EVEN LKY AND HIS WIFE DO NOT FORCE THEIR OWN DAUGHTER,
    DR LWL TO GET MARRIED!!

    IF THE SHIT TIMOTHY GO WHO HV NEVER MEET ME AND HV NO RELATIONSHIP WITH ME AT ALL INSISTS ON TAGGING WITH ME, THEN I TRULY DOUBT HIS MOTIVATION. HE POSES MORE OBSTACLES AND PROBLEMS TO ME INSTEAD.

    STOP ALL YOUR NONSENSE!!

  8. He wants control but he is not his father, so he is in a dilemma because he cannot put his preferred selected candidate in, unlike the EP where he changed the rules! Weak person.

  9. ATTN: SHIT CHANNELNEWSASIA
    ======================
    11.2.18 (7.15AM)

    JUST SAW CNA SHIT NEWS HIGHLIGHTS:

    “MARY LOU MCDONALD IS NEW SINN FEIN’S PRESIDENT”???

    WITHOUT FAIL, THE SHIT CNA IS STLL INDICATING “MISLEADING” SHIT NEWS TO AGAIN ASSOCIATING ME WITH SHIT TIMOTHY GO, JUST BECOS INDIAN PM MODI VISITS PALESTINE AND I WANTED TO GO TO WORK WITH USA FIRST.

    SINCE WHEN DID I SAY I WANT TO MIGRATE TO USA? I ONLY SAY I WANT TO GO TO USA TO WORK ONLY, AFTER WHICH, I WANT TO COME BACK TO SINGAPORE BECOS I’M HOLDING THE SINGAPORE CITIZENSHIP.

    AS I SAID, WHOEVER INSISTS ON ASSOCIATING ME WITH SHIT TIMOTHY GO, YOU CAN MARRY HIM YOURSELF. IF NOT, YOU CAN GET YOUR SPOUSE OR YOUR DAUGHTER TO MARRY HIM.

    SHIT CNA, YOU HV BEEN HARMING ME FOR MORE 2 DECADES NOW BUT YOU DON’T TO HV ANY CONSCIENCE AT ALL.

    YOU ARE TRULY GETTING ON. MY NERVES TO CONSISTENTLY WRITING SHIT NEWS HIGHLIGHTS TO MISLEADING OTHERS OF MY “TRUE” INTENTION ALL THE TIME.

    SHIT CNA ALSO BUGS MY HOME TO LISTEN TO ALL OUR FAMILY CONVERSATIONS TILL TODATE SINCE TWO DECADES AGO AND HV CAUSED SO MUCH DISHARMONY EVERSINCE.

    YOU HV FORCED ME TO STAND UP AGAINST ROTTON PAP GOVT THRU YOUR SHIT NEWS.

    YOU SHIT MEDIACORPSE,, ESPECIALLY CNA, IS A CRONY AND THEIR SHIT NEWS HV MADE MANY SINGAPOREANS VERY SICK TOO

    FIRST, WHO IS SHIT TIMOTHY GO?

    HE IS A MEDIACORPSE STAFF. HE IS A FOREIGNER.

    DOES A FOREIGNER HAS THE RIGHT TO INTERFERE IN SINGAPORE’S DOMESTIC AFFAIRS? NO, NOT AT ALL.

    I ALREADY SAID, I HV NO INTEREST IN TIMOTHY GO AT ALL. YOU SHIT FEMALE CNA STAFF CAN HV SEX WITH HIM. AND MALE CNA STAFF CAN BRING THEIR SPOUSES AND DAUGHTERS TO HV SEX WITH HIM.

    IT IS YOUR CNA’S BUSINESS IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HIM AND YOU HV NO RIGHTS TO FORCE IT ONTO OTHERS LIKE ME. I’M NOT ANYBODY’S PUPPET OR SACRIFICIAL OBJECT TO ACHIEVE YOUR SELFISH MEANS.

    SHIT YOU CNA, YOUR SHIT LICENCE WILL BE CANCELLED IF EVER ONE DAY I HV A CHANCE TO DO SO. AND YOU’LL HV SEX WITH TIMOTHY GO YOURSELF. MARK MY WORDS!

    YOU SHIT CNA IS TRULY GETTING ON MY NERVES. YOU SIMPLY AND TRULY HV NO CONSCIENCE AT ALL. YOU JUST IGNORE PEOPLE’S SUFFERINGS.

    STOP TRUSTING CNA MISLEADING NEWS. PLS BOYCOTT CNA.

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