AFTER the historic outcome of the Malaysian election, neighbouring Singaporean Prime Minister late Wednesday reminded his ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) that it does not have a “monopoly of power”
Lee Hsien Loong remarks came a week after Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition was ousted in an election for the first time in the country’s history.
“Opposition parties keep Singapore’s politics contestable,” Lee said during a parliamentary debate. “In other words, the ruling party, the PAP, does not have a monopoly of power, does not have the right to rule Singapore indefinitely.”
Trust in the PAP, founded by Lee’s father, was based on its ability to renew itself and bring progress, he said.
“If the PAP can keep on successfully doing that, we can stay in government. But if we ever fail, we deserve to lose.”
“But if the PAP government becomes incompetent or corrupt, the opposition will grow,” he added.
The PAP has ruled Singapore, one of the world’s richest and most stable countries, without interruption since independence in 1965, when Lee Kuan Yew led the island as it split from Malaysia following prolonged turmoil.
According to Channel News Asia, Lee said he was aware of more than one qualified candidate to succeed and that a clear front-runner to emerge before Singapore’s next general election.
“I know everyone is anxious to know who the next PM will be … These things take time. They cannot be forced,” Lee was quoted as saying. “I do not believe we are ready to settle on a choice yet. Nor is it helpful to treat this either as a horse race or a campaign to lobby support for one candidate or the other.”
“This is a team game, and we want a strong, cohesive team so Team Singapore is the winner.”
Lee has congratulated Mahathir Mohamad, 92, on becoming Malaysian prime minister. Mahathir served as Malaysia’s leader until a year before Lee became Singapore’s third prime minister in 2004.
Lee called the change of government “momentous” and said he planned to visit Malaysia on Saturday.
The PAP has dominated Singapore’s politics, winning a significant majority of parliamentary seats in every election. Its worst showing was in 2011 when 40 percent of voters turned against it, partly in dismay over growing strains on public services.
Lee said last year he was ready to step down in the next couple of years, but no successor has been chosen from a group of younger ministers tasked with selecting a leader from within their ranks. Singapore’s next general election is due by early 2021.