- POSTED: 24 Sep 2013 23:02
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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday hinted that Singapore must have his successor and the next team to govern the country in place well before he turns 70.
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday hinted that Singapore must have his successor and the next team to govern the country in place well before he turns 70.
Mr Lee, who is 61, was asked on the Channel NewsAsia programme 'Ask the PM', if he intends to stay on as prime minister beyond the age of 67, the age Mr Lee Kuan Yew stepped down and handed over the reins to Mr Goh Chok Tong.
Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser asked Mr Lee what qualities should the next prime minister have, and if he had such a person in mind.
Mr Lee replied: "We have good talent. We have people who have the commitment, the ability, who have the experience collectively to make the system work. What you need is to be able to have these people be recognised and accepted and confidence built in them over time that they are a safe pair of hands, and then they can do their job."
Mr Lee added that the next prime minister may not have as long an apprenticeship as he did before taking over.
"Even if you have a good person and if it is not known where he has come from, you have a problem. I was very, very lucky. I had twenty years apprenticeship before I took over as PM (Prime Minister). I don't think any other PM in Singapore is ever going to be as lucky as me."
"I think Singapore will have to get used to the idea that you have people come in, and you will have a leader who has not been there quite such a long time, so you have to operate in a different sort of way, but he can make it work."
Turning to the Cabinet, Mr Lee stressed that Singapore needs a balance of people from government who have had the experience of administration and those from the private sector in the Cabinet.
Mr Lee acknowledged that it is very hard to bring in people from the private sector to make up the team to govern Singapore.
He said: "It's very hard to bring in people from the private sector because once you have had it into the private sector, you have prepared yourself psychologically for that route. You are gaining the skills optimised for your career, whether a banker or lawyer or entrepreneur.
"To change from being a successful lawyer to a successful minister, not everybody can make that switch and so we need to work very hard to identify suitable people, bring them in and they have to have guts to take the chance to come in."
MediaCorp News Editor-in-Chief Walter Fernandez asked if it has become harder to attract people from the private sector to enter politics after the last general election.
"I think so, it has become harder," replied Mr Lee.
"It's not so certain. People have got to calculate their risks, but even more than that, there is more hurly-burly, there is more flak on the Internet and it is not just the candidate, the families too.
"Why do you want to do that? You are making a good living. You are living quietly, placidly. Nobody disturbs us when we go to the hawker centres. Suddenly, you go into public life and I have to read all these stuff on the websites about me and when I go out, I have lost my privacy, it’s a very serious consideration, it has made it much harder. It is a serious problem."