SINGAPORE: Singapore political pundits have predicted that the country’s next general election may be held as early as November 2024, following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s confirmation at the People’s Action Party (PAP) convention on Sunday (5 Nov) that he would hand over the baton to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong before the next election and PAP’s 70th anniversary, which will take place next year.
Singapore’s next GE has to be called by November 2025, but the PAP’s 70th anniversary will take place on 21 Nov 2024.
PM Lee said in his speech that 2024 not only marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PAP but also his 20th anniversary as head of government.
Speaking to CNA, Singapore Management University’s law don Eugene Tan suggested that the party may hope to use these milestones as it did with Singapore’s 50th anniversary (SG50) during the 2015 general election.
As for the specific time when the general election will be held, he predicted that the polls might be held at the end of the year because PM Lee may wish to deliver his 20th and final National Day rally speech in August.
Gillian Koh, a senior researcher at the Institute of Policy Studies, interpreted Prime Minister Lee’s speech as saying, “It is certain that the next general election will not be held until November next year.
She characterised Prime Minister Lee’s announcement as a “notice” to PAP leaders and Singaporeans that they have at least a year to prepare for the next national election.
Analysts forecast that a “major” cabinet reshuffle may occur as early as the end of this year or early next year, and some older ministers may announce their retirement by then. It must be noted that 4G leaders still do not control the national security portfolio, comprising of the law, defence, home affairs and foreign affairs ministries – these ministries are still led by 3G leaders.
A number of key older leaders, including PM Lee himself, are likely to find themselves in Mr Wong’s cabinet as senior or mentor ministers – much like the role PM Lee’s father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, played in Government until his passing in 2015.
Analysts told CNA that the images of both PM Lee and Mr Wong could be used together in election posters to signal that the 4G has the support of the outgoing PM and that this is a critical transition.
PM-designate Lawrence Wong said on Sunday that he has been busy preparing to receive the baton from Mr Lee and that he is ready to take on the new responsibilities.
He said, “I’m well aware of the demands of my next job. I am all in, heart and soul, and will give nothing but my very best.
“As leader, I will focus on finding common ground and the things that bind us as Singaporeans. I will ensure the benefits of our nation’s progress are shared by all, not just a few; and that every Singaporean will always feel respected and valued, and have a place on this little red dot.”
Analysts said Singapore may expect a more consultative approach to Government under Mr Wong’s leadership.
Dr Felix Tan, a political analyst at Nanyang Technological University, told CNA in his capacity as an independent observer: “What we’ll see in Lawrence Wong’s term or tenure as prime minister in the future, is probably an extension of a very consultative kind of government.”
Noting public perception that the government “has a one track mind,” Dr Tan added: “So I think Lawrence Wong (is) trying to change that sort of perspective – we want to have diverse voices. Everyone has a voice, but let’s try to compromise or try to find a middle ground that best suits everyone.”