Continuity for Singapore regardless of who is PM: Chan Chun Sing

Continuity for Singapore regardless of who is PM: Chan Chun Sing

Chan Chun Sing
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing speaks at the Foreign Correspondents Association Lunch on Monday (Oct 30).

SINGAPORE: There will be continuity in Singapore no matter who the prime minister is, as the country is run by a team of leaders, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Oct 30).

"In Singapore, you are not going to expect, if person A becomes the Prime Minister versus person B, that the direction is going to be so diametrically opposite as to cause a huge discontinuity or disruption," he said at a dialogue with foreign correspondents based in Singapore.

"In fact, whatever policies that we have in place now are thought through by the team, carried by the team, owned by the team."

Mr Chan, 48, is one of a few Cabinet ministers, including Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who have been tipped as future prime ministerial candidates.

He added: "I accept every leader has got his own style and personality ... but by and large, those are not the determining factors. At the margins, the personality, style, all that makes a bit of a difference, but the central policy direction is determined by the team."

When asked if he would like the top job, he said: "All of us have to be prepared to do the job when called upon. I will repeat what Minister Khaw Boon Wan has shared: 'In Singapore, leadership is a responsibility to be borne, not a position to be sought.'"

Mr Chan also fielded questions ranging from foreign affairs to the public dispute between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings over the fate of their late father Lee Kuan Yew's Oxley Road house. 

When asked about how the Oxley issue was handled, he said that the most important thing is that it showed no man is above the law, not even the late Mr Lee.

Mr Chan explained why it was necessary for the Cabinet to set up a committee to consider options for the house. "People say: 'Why did you set up a committee to examine the issue, perhaps in defiance of his wish?' If Mr Lee had his personal wish and no one in the current or future cabinet has the sense of responsibility to think through the issue according to the needs of the society and the times, what would it speak about the quality of leadership in Singapore?"

Mr Chan also touched on how Singapore has to find new ways of transcending its geographical constraints in order to ensure economic growth.

He noted that, in the past, this was done by establishing air, land and sea links with the rest of the world, but Singapore now has to compete in new dimensions of global connectivity in the form of data, finance, technology and talent.

"In the past it was trading with Singapore, then you have trading through Singapore ... (where) we are competing on a global supply chain level ... but now in a new network economy, can you trade on Singapore - on the Singapore platform - even if they don't come to or through Singapore," he said.

Source: CNA/hm