Respected international publication, the Nikkei Asian Review, has said that Heng Swee Keat is expected to mentor Li Hongyi to be Singapore’s potential fifth-generation Prime Minister, just like how second-gen PM Goh Chok Tong mentored current PM Lee Hsien Loong.
Goh succeeded founding PM Lee Kuan Yew and has been seen as a “seatwarmer” PM since he paved the way for Lee Kuan Yew’s son Lee Hsien Loong to take office.
The Nikkei Asian Review article – written by Hamish McDonald, the former regional editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review – asserted that the recent appointment of Heng Swee Keat as the PAP’s first assistant secretary-general – which is seen as confirmation that he will become the next PM – “promises no break” from the PAP’s usual pattern.
Asserting that the ruling People’s Action Party “pretends” that “its leaders possess unquestionable integrity, acumen and ability,” McDonald indicated that the selection of Heng to become 4G PM is no surprise since he possesses all the typical prerequisites that historian Michael Barr predicted the 4G PM would have:
“ethnic Chinese, Mandarin and English speaking, alumnus of a posh private school, study at top British and U.S. universities, closeness to founding leader Lee Kuan Yew (as principal private secretary), national security service, and grasp of finances as former head of the central bank.”
Noting that Heng’s “background signals policy continuity,” McDonald said that this “makes him a safe pair of hands” and that he can do for Li Hongyi what Goh Chok Tong did for Lee Hsien Loong, if Hongyi shows an interest in politics.
Asserting that Heng’s selection to be 4G PM signals that the “PAP has bypassed an opportunity to revitalize its appeal, project a strong and distinctive multiethnic Singaporean identity, and dispel its aura of an exclusive, self-selected elite,” McDonald added that the “stale political cocktail” in Singapore “needs a good shake.”
Noting that the next election is fast approaching, McDonald said that it has been playing “by its time-tested book of legal action against opposition figures and critical bloggers: for defamation, contempt, and sometimes minute financial irregularities (like using office stationery for private purposes).”
McDonald feels that the impact of such action, coupled with the frustrations of the people who see their wages and value of housing depress as the cost of living keeps rising, may lead to disgruntled Singaporeans expressing their anger against the Government at the polls.
He said: “In going for the bland, it risks a popular revolt at the ballot box — perhaps worse than the shock it got in 2011. Malaysia has just show what can be done, without the sky falling in.”
Asserting that the “PAP cannot keep the entire nation in perpetual lockdown,” McDonald concluded his article by suggesting that “the party should cast its net wider to include those not regarded as fully legitimate in Singapore’s diverse gene pool.”
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