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Five members of PAP CEC step down including Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam; PM Lee to reshuffle cabinet within a fortnight

The retirement of five of People's Action Party (PAP)'s top guns has paved the way for their successors, namely a crop of fourth-generation leaders, as announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the party's biennial conference last Sunday (11 Nov).

The five heavyweights who have stepped down from the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC) are:

  • first secretary-general and Deputy Prime Minister, Teo Chee Hean;
  • second assistant secretary-general and DPM, Tharman Shanmugaratnam;
  • chairman and Transport Minister, Khaw Boon Wan;
  • vice-chairman and former minister holding several portfolios, among them Communications Minister and Environment Minister, Yaacob Ibrahim; and
  • treasurer and former Manpower Minister, Lim Swee Say.

The new PAP CEC members who were elected on Sunday include, other than PM Lee himself, the following:

  • Home Affairs and Law Minister, K. Shanmugam;
  • Health Minister, Gan Kim Yong;
  • Trade and Industry Minister, Chan Chun Sing;
  • Environment Minister, Masagos Zulkifli;
  • Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Indranee Rajah;
  • Education Minister, Ong Ye Kung; and
  • Foreign Affairs Minister, Vivian Balakrishnan.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Manpower Minister Josephine Teo were co-opted into the CEC, garnering the 13th and 14th highest votes respectively from approximately 2,000 party cadres during the conference.

Speaking at the Singapore Expo, PM Lee declared that PAP's new CEC, which will lead the party into the next general election -- predicted to take place next year -- will convene and subsequently elect its new office holders in about two weeks, and that will soon be followed by a reshuffling of the Cabinet.

PM Lee said: "We have only two years left to prepare for the next GE.

"The PAP must win the GE convincingly," adding that the party will do so "as we have always done by uniting Singaporeans, not dividing them."

He also expressed his wish for PAP to hand their "whole-hearted support to the new CEC and our 4G leaders."

"It is a team of able men and women, with a good combination of skills amongst them. They are gaining experience, willing to serve, and most importantly, with their hearts in the right place," he said.

"I can see them gelling as a team, and am confident that they have what it takes to lead Singapore," assured PM Lee.

Mr Ong, in a Facebook post on Sunday (11 Nov), thanked his party members for electing him to the CEC, and said that his election was "made possible because my senior colleagues, namely DPM Teo Chee Hean, DPM Tharman, Minister Khaw Boon Wan, Mr Yaacob Ibrahim and Mr Lim Swee Say, graciously stepped down from the CEC to give the younger ones the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities."

"I am deeply grateful to them. We will work as a united team, and continue to count on your guidance and mentorship," concluded Mr Ong.