/From Chan Chun Sing to Ong Ye Kung: Who will be the next S’pore PM-in-waiting? – Mothership.SG – News from Singapore, Asia and around the world

From Chan Chun Sing to Ong Ye Kung: Who will be the next S’pore PM-in-waiting? – Mothership.SG – News from Singapore, Asia and around the world

Heng Swee Keat, still the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), surprised the nation on April 8 with his decision to step aside as leader of the fourth generation (4G) team of the People’s Action Party (PAP).

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed that Heng will also relinquish his portfolio as Minister for Finance at the next Cabinet reshuffle, which is scheduled in the next couple of weeks.

Although Heng will continue to serve as DPM, it is clear that he is no longer in the running for the role of Singapore’s next Prime Minister. He said as much in his letter to PM Lee, along with a desire for that person to have a “longer runway” to get to grips with the job.

The next, natural question is — who will it be, if not Heng?

Chan Chun Sing

There might be an obvious answer.

If the 1st Assistant Secretary-General of the PAP is no longer in the running, then isn’t it likely to be the 2nd Assistant Secretary-General?

Chan was seen as a frontrunner, alongside Heng. The question was arguably only settled in 2018, with the announcement that Chan would be the 2nd Assistant-Secretary General to Heng’s 1st.

Chan would seem a strong contender to be frontrunner, although at 51, he’s less than 10 years younger than Heng at 60.

Ong Ye Kung

Another contender who was previously talked about as a possible PM candidate is Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung.

Ong is currently the Assistant Treasurer of the PAP.

Ong is a former Education Minister, 2nd Minister for Defence and is a current board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Ong was also Deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

At 51, he’s the same age as Chan.

Lawrence Wong

Here’s another contender — Lawrence Wong.

The Education Minister was appointed co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Covid-19 alongside Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

In recent months, he appeared in many press conferences as a prominent “face” of Singapore’s response to the pandemic, updating the public on safe management measures and the vaccine rollout.

Wong’s portfolios have encompassed a well-rounded group of ministries, with some of the biggest budgets (Senior Minister of State for Defence, National Development Minister, Education Minister, 2nd Finance Minister).

At 48 years of age, he is also one of the younger potential candidates.

Desmond Lee

Speaking of younger candidates, Desmond Lee could also be in the running.

Lee is 44 years old, one of the younger ministers in PM Lee’s Cabinet. However, he first entered politics in 2011, the same year that Heng entered politics.

As the recently-appointed National Development Minister, Lee helms a ministry strongly linked to the government’s environmental initiatives, which seems to be a priority of the PAP.

Lee was also moved out of Jurong GRC to stand in West Coast GRC against Tan Cheng Bock’s Progress Singapore Party team, prevailing with just under 52 per cent of the vote.

Lee is currently the Organising Secretary of the PAP and the Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration.

However, Lee has not held posts in the Finance, Education or Defence Ministries, traditionally seen as the key ministries in government.

But this may all be moot until the announced Cabinet reshuffle, where we will learn who will take over Heng as the Finance Minister.

Other moves may also give a hint as to who may be the frontrunner. Or not.

Top image from Chan Chun Sing, Lawrence Wong, Desmond Lee and Ong Ye Kung’s Facebook pages.