Singapore — Opposition politician Tan Jee Say took to Facebook on Monday (Apr 19) to urge Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to get a completely “new team and put the succession plan aside”. Mr Lee should stay on as PM as long as necessary to help Singapore navigate “a brave new world”.
With Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s “exit” as leader of the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) fourth-generation (4G) team, it’s “time to replace all the 4G ministers”, who have “fumbled big-time” in the Covid-19 crisis, he says. He called for a change in line-up in a Facebook post as early as September 25, 2020, he reminds his followers.
“Heng is not the only horse who has gone astray. The entire 4G herd is directionless and unsure of themselves. When there is a leadership vacuum with no obvious successor and none of them steps forward, then none among them deserves to lead. PM must look beyond them for a deserving successor,” he writes.
Covid-19 is not the only problem. he says.
Singapore’s very prosperity is at stake with China’s Belt and Road (BRI) initiative to reopen the old Silk Route from China to Europe threatening to eclipse the existing sea trade route through the Malacca Straits that enriched Singapore as a maritime hub.
PM Lee has to stay on to meet this challenge which also requires new and younger leaders, says Mr Tan.
Mr Tan, who contested the 2011 presidential election, founded the Singaporeans First party in 2014 and upon its dissolution in 2020 returned to the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), writes: “There are 2 reasons why PM needs to replace all the 4G ministers.
Mr Tan suggests older and established professionals work alongside them and temper their exuberance in case they “run loose and wild with their imagination”. “The older guys are unlikely to feel threatened by these young upstarts nor would they be interested in any political succession,” he adds.
“In fact, PM should put aside any succession plan so as not to distract and divert the government’s attention away from tackling the demands of the new economy. He should stay on as PM for as long as necessary for him to successfully navigate us through to the brave new world.”
As the economy changes, Mr Tan urges the Government to increase spending rather than rely on austerity measures. He proposes “spending enormous resources including the use of our substantial reserves that the PM and his generation have accumulated over the years. Only the PM, not his pretender, has the credibility and the authority to spend our reserves.”
The succession plan, he says, was “a huge unnecessary waste”.
As to who should be the next PM, Mr Tan says it is irrelevant to the current situation. “Our key priority is to strengthen the economy, society and the people. The obvious successor will emerge on his or her own. We may not know in advance who he or she is but it’s alright. As long as we have a strong economy, society and people, we will get a deserving PM. Don’t waste time planning for a specific him or her. Just get on with the job at hand and let wisdom lead us there.” he concludes.
Mr Tan contested the 2020 elections as one of the four SDP candidates for the Holland–Bukit Timah GRC, which was won by a PAP team headed by Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. Previously, Mr Tan was the principal private secretary to then-DPM Goh Chok Tong between 1985 to 1990.
Denise Teh is an intern at The Independent SG. /TISGFollow us on Social Media
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