Singapore — Noted socio-political activist Gilbert Goh wants the Prime Minister’s term of office to be limited to a maximum of two terms so that the nation can have better leadership succession.
The activist said that part of his wish list for 2020 is to “limit the duration of a Prime Minister to a maximum of two terms so there is a proper succession plan”.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has served as head of government for just over three terms. He was appointed on Aug 12, 2004, and has been in office for over 15 years, having led the ruling People’s Action Party to victory in the 2006, 2011 and 2015 elections.
Similarly, his predecessor, Mr Goh Chok Tong, served as Prime Minister for just over three terms after he was appointed on Nov 28, 1990. He led the PAP to victory in the 1991, 1997 and 2001 elections and served as head of government for 13 years and 258 days.
Mr Goh’s predecessor and Mr Lee’s father, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, served as head of government for a whopping 31 years and 178 days. Having led the ruling party to victory in the 1959, 1963, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984 and 1988 elections, Mr Lee had become the world’s longest-serving Prime Minister at the time.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has expressed his intention to vacate his seat sometime after the next General Election. Fourth-generation PAP leader Heng Swee Keat is widely expected to succeed him, especially after his recent appointments as Deputy Prime Minister and First Assistant Secretary-General of the PAP.
While PM Lee is planning on stepping down as head of government, it is widely expected that he will play a major role in his successor’s Cabinet, just as Mr Goh and the elder Mr Lee did after they stepped down.
The elder Mr Lee remained an influential member of Mr Goh’s Cabinet, holding the post of Senior Minister from 1990 to 2004. When his son became Prime Minister, Mr Lee stepped down as Senior Minister and became Minister Mentor, while Mr Goh became a Senior Minister.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh only left the Cabinet in 2011, after the watershed General Election that year at which the PAP suffered its worst results yet and at which the opposition won a group representation ward for the first time in the country’s history. They said that they decided to leave the Cabinet so that Mr Lee Hsien Loong’s team could have a clean slate.