SINGAPORE: Finance Minister Lawrence Wong has been named as the leader of the fourth generation, or 4G, of Singapore's political leadership, paving the way for him to become the country's next Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the announcement on Thursday (Apr 14) evening.
In a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Lee said: "After a process of consultation, Cabinet ministers affirmed today their choice of Minister Lawrence Wong as the leader of the 4G team.
After consulting the ministers, Mr Lee asked former Cabinet minister and People's Action Party (PAP) Chairman Khaw Boon Wan to start a process involving the ministers, as well as Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng.
"Mr Khaw met each one of them individually, to sound out their personal views in confidence and to facilitate a new consensus on a 4G leader.
"Mr Khaw found that the overwhelming majority of those consulted, supported Minister Wong as the leader. Earlier today, Mr Khaw briefed Cabinet Ministers, as well as the Speaker and NTUC Secretary-General, on his findings, and all endorsed the decision for Minister Wong to lead the team," said Mr Lee.
"The views of the Prime Minister and the two Senior Ministers were not sought," Mr Lee said, adding that the decision was endorsed by all Government members of parliament in a party caucus this evening.
With this decision, Mr Lee said he will make adjustments to Cabinet appointments, which will be announced in due course.
"This decision on succession is a crucial one for Singapore. It will ensure the continuity and stability of leadership that are the hallmarks of our system," said Mr Lee.
"The Ministers recognise that the right to lead cannot be inherited. Mr Lawrence Wong and his younger team will continue to give their best to Singaporeans, and justify their trust and support."
4G TEAM REQUESTED TIME TO ARRIVE AT CONSENSUS FOR LEADER
Last November, Mr Lee said that Singapore's 4G team needed a "little longer" to choose the country's next leader, but the decision would come well before the next elections.
The candidate to succeed Mr Lee, 70, has been up in the air since Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat stepped aside as the leader of the PAP 4G team last April.
Mr Heng, 60, cited his age as the reason and said he would have "too short a runway" should he become Prime Minister after the pandemic.
Mr Lee said the 4G team "requested time to arrive at a consensus as to who should lead them".
"They had to focus then on the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The 4G team has worked closely together through the past two years of the pandemic, and had the opportunity to better understand each other’s strengths," he said.
With the COVID-19 pandemic situation "stabilised", Mr Lee said they are now able to relook the issue of succession.
Mr Lee, the PAP secretary-general, had intended to step down when he reached 70 years old but said that he will stay on due to the COVID-19 pandemic.