Labour chief Chan Chun Sing speaks at the Temasek Polytechnic graduation ceremony (Source: The Straits Times).

Minister Chan Chun Sing expresses readiness to be the next PM

Cabinet member Chan Chun Sing, as one of the contenders to be Singapore’s next leader, told journalists at a Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore briefing on Monday (30 Oct), “All of us have to be prepared to do the job when called upon,” when asked if he would like the job of prime minister.

He said that he and his colleagues had an obligation to be ready to take on the job.

According to Reuters, Mr Chan, a former army general who served for more than two decades before entering politics in 2011, stated that whoever took over was unlikely to drastically change the government’s policy direction.

He then stated that in Singapore, leadership is a responsibility to be borne, not a position to be sought, citing a comment previously made by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Mr Chan holds the title of minister in the prime minister’s office, is one of a handful of men mentioned as potential successors to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Singapore news media have cited Chan as one of a number of contenders to succeed Lee.

While, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also mentioned as a potential successor, has repeatedly said he does not want the job.

The Singapore media and political analysts say Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung are also in contention. However, Mr Heng just recovered from a stroke and TOC understands Mr Ong is not that well liked among the grassroots while Mr Chan enjoys support from the grassroots as Deputy Chairman of the People’s Association.

Questions about succession in Singapore, which has been governed by the People’s Action Party since independence in 1965, came into focus when PM Lee took ill during a televised speech last year and stumbled at the podium.

Doctors subsequently said there were no serious concerns.

Lee Kuan Yew’s successor, Goh Chok Tong, was identified at least five years in advance. While PM Lee, who first entered politics in 1984, was also groomed for the position long before he took office in 2004.