On Saturday (5 May), Associate Professor Terence Lee wrote a commentary for Channel NewsAsia laying down three possible scenarios for political succession. It could be that the next Prime Minister has already been decided, or that more time is needed, or that PM Lee would have stayed on longer in his current position.
Ong is out of the race, Chan is the most likely Candidate
Although the professor did not give any weight to each of the scenarios, the first scenario he laid out was that the next PM has already been decided but the possible successor himself has not been told. This is because PM Lee would like to be “absolutely certain that the next Prime Minister will not only perform well, but also command the full support of his peers”.
Similar to an earlier commentary by Assistant Professor Woo Jun Jie from Nanyang Technological University, Prof Lee also said that Ong Ye Kung is out of the race. This is because Ong is “a political novice and seems unlikely to be in the running to be the next Prime Minister within this parliamentary term”. Instead, this seems to be a race between Chan Chun Sing and Heng Swee Keat.
While Heng does not play second fiddle to Chan, Prof Lee suggests that the Ministry of Trade and Industry Minister “has recently grown in global significance” and putting Chan at the helm “seems to have persuaded some pundits that he is the man”, particularly because this portfolio would give Chan the opportunity to “shore up his resume as it will give him access to the movers and shakers of business and local intelligentsia”.
The other two scenarios provided by Prof Lee put that "the 4G team has yet to agree on any one candidate" for the premiership and that PM Lee would have to carry on as PM in his 70s after the next General Election.
Chan: A clown or a statesman?
While Chan has been in the news for key initiatives, much of his public statements have received more negative publicity than warm welcome from the political middle ground.
For instance, Chan made a supposed “Freudian slip” last year by addressing the then Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob “Madam President” twice instead of “Madam Speaker”. This was something which TOC editor Terry Xu described as having “struck a raw nerve with those who understand the [gravity of the] implications” before a walkover resulted in Halimah being ‘elected’.
In February, a lady who was charged for reckless driving asked her MP to write in to the High Courts in an appeal letter. Chan – as the PAP Party Whip – said it was perfectly fine until retired district judge Low Wee Ping said that the late Lee Kuan Yew instructed MPs not to write to the courts. Chan subsequently changed his tone in a 180-degree turn.
In a more recent visit to China on the Singapore-Chongqing initiative, Chan mentioned that there were plenty of opportunities in South-Western China and asked Singaporean businessmen to fully exploit the opportunities there. However, the rest of the World seemed to be aware that Chinese accounting fraud – even within big companies – was on the rise with one analyst suggesting that this may be the cause of the next global financial crisis.
Netizens not pleased with the uncertainty
One Kum Weng Lai commented on the Channel NewsAsia Facebook Page if this should be the way forward for the nation’s highest political office: “No one knows what is going on. What should be a simple passing of the torch to the next PM is now full of speculation, innuendos, suspicion, and opaqueness. This is the way all these ex SAF Generals do business”
Do you agree?