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'Breathless speculation' about possible appointment in PAP CEC may be 'off the mark': K Shanmugam

 'Breathless speculation' about possible appointment in PAP CEC may be 'off the mark': K Shanmugam

Ministers Grace Fu and K Shanmugam, PAP Secretary-General Lee Hsien Loong and minister Chan Chun Sing at the PAP Conference and Awards Ceremony at Singapore Expo on Nov 11, 2018. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: “Breathless speculation” about his future appointment in the People's Action Party's (PAP) Central Executive Committee (CEC) may be "off the mark", Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has said, in response to media reports that suggested he would be appointed a PAP assistant secretary-general and deputy prime minister.

Replying to questions from Channel NewsAsia, Mr Shanmugam said: "I can understand the speculation based on the photograph at the party conference and my relative seniority.

"But these assessments are based on a snapshot, of a point in time, rather than a deep understanding of how the PAP operates and how transition works."

Minister K Shanmugam, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and ministers Chan Chun Sing and Gan Kim Yong at the PAP Conference and Awards Ceremony at Singapore Expo on Nov 11, 2018. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

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"I have said on Sunday, in response to a question as to whether I will be one of the assistant secretaries-general, that these matters have to be decided by the CEC, but that my own view is that the appointments must reflect the future and not the transition," Mr Shanmugam said.

"So quite a bit of the breathless speculation may be off the mark."

On Sunday (Nov 11), 12 PAP members were elected into the CEC - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Shanmugam, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Ms Indranee Rajah and Mr Ng Chee Meng, both Ministers in the Prime Minister's Office and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo were co-opted into the committee.

Graphic showing PAP's newest Central Executive Committee. (Graphic: Kenneth Choy)

This PAP conference was closely watched for clues regarding Singapore's political leadership succession. Deputy Prime Ministers and PAP assistant secretaries-general Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam have relinquished their party posts, leading to some speculation about who will fill their shoes.

Analysts have said that the assistant secretary-general spots are likely to go to one or two of three ministers in the running for the position of prime minister - Mr Ong, Mr Heng and Mr Chan. There was also a suggestion that one spot could go to Mr Shanmugam.

READ: PM succession still a three-horse race, say analysts after PAP CEC election

Other ministers who have stepped aside in the party central committee include Co-ordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan, who was the party chairman; and former Cabinet ministers Lim Swee Say and Yaacob Ibrahim.

READ: PAP only has two years left to prepare for next GE: Lee Hsien Loong

Mr Lee said during the party conference that the PAP is taking a "major step in political renewal". 

He added that following the elections, the new CEC would meet within "a couple of weeks" to elect a new slate of office holders, and that he would follow up with changes in the Cabinet lineup.

Source: CNA/hm


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