At the opening of a community center in Khatib for health care that offers massages and other services for senior citizens, Shanmugam told the media that he “worries a lot about succession,” since having smart and able people in office is not enough, but the country has to get its politics in order. Otherwise, he opined, it will mean that people will suffer.
While other developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom are larger and have more resources than Singapore does, but suffer from divisions due to widely varied perspectives, Shanmugam said.
“The main issue is politics. Once you don’t get it right, then the people suffer. The individuals in power are brilliant, they are well-meaning, they are capable…but the system as a whole prevents them from having the right solutions.”
So far, he believes, the current generation of leaders have gotten politics in Singapore right and hopes the same for the coming generation.
“We have managed to avoid (going in the wrong direction) so far… managed to keep our politics clean and right… and that is my best hope for the 4G (leadership) in Singapore.”
Heng was appointed as PAP’s first assistant secretary-general, and Chan, second assistant-secretary general. This paves the way for Heng to be appointed as successor to PM Lee to be the party’s secretary-general, and then Prime Minister in the coming General Election.
Shanmugam had many good things to say about Heng, noting that first of all, a person of the utmost integrity.” Furthermore, “He works very hard and he is brilliant and he is very empathetic… Many others (in the party) have similar qualities… they will combine as a team.”
The Home Affairs and Law Minister described the Finance Minister has someone who is deliberate and careful and approaches problems from different perspectives. “He wants to understand the deeper reasons why people have come to some views. He asks for viewpoints from different people, and then he comes to a decision.”
Shanmugam praised both Heng and Chan for dedicating their lives to public service and noted that both are examples of upward mobility from their humble beginnings, since Heng came from a modest family background in Bukit Merah, while Chan was raised by a single mother in a rented apartment.
“Their careers are an open book…You can start (from a humble background) and reach the very top.”
Shanmugam, who, after PM Lee, has served as an MP within the CEC the longest, has been appointed as the committee treasurer. He emphasised that he, along with other members of the party, would “continue to help and do our best,” since “this is about a collective team. It is not about the individual.”
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