The People’s Action Party (PAP) Central Executive Committee (CEC) election on Sunday was closely watched, especially after political analysts and even Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam hinted that the election results would give a clearer picture as to who will succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and become Singapore’s fourth Prime Minister.
While socio-political commentators have acknowledged that the CEC election results did not make a single PM frontrunner absolutely clear and that it is still a three horse race between the trio tipped to become the next PM, the CEC election results did show an interesting pattern – no one in the CEC is over the age of 60, except PM Lee.
Five members of the CEC retired to make room for the younger cohort. These senior politicians include both Deputy Prime Ministers Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean, as well as Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, former Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim and ex-Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say.
Khaw Boon Wan is the eldest of the five at 65, followed by Lim Swee Say at 64. Both Teo Chee Hean and Yaacob Ibrahim are 63, while Tharman Shanmugaratnam is the youngest of the five at 61.
Interestingly, PM Lee remains in the CEC and occupies the party’s top spot as secretary-general, even though he is the eldest among all in the CEC – including the recently retired Khaw – at 66.
The eldest members of the CEC after PM Lee are Shanmugam, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen who are all 59, followed by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who are both 57.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah and Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli are both 55 while Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu is a year younger, at 54.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Labour Movement chief Ng Chee Meng and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo are both 50, while Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin are both 49.
Although he was born in the same year as Chan Chun Sing, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung is the youngest CEC member, at 48, since he will only turn 49 later this month.
This also makes Ong Ye Kung the youngest of the three PM frontrunners. He is just over a month younger than Chan Chun Sing. Heng Swee Keat is the oldest of the three PM frontrunners, being 9 years younger than PM Lee and 8 years older than Chan and Ong.