SINGAPORE’S ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is expected to unveil is next line of leaders on Friday in an announcement that will see the candidate who will most likely succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to become the city-state’s fourth premier.
Sources told the Straits Times that the country’s top decision-making body held a meeting Wednesday night to determine who would fill the crucial post of first assistant secretary-general and the rest of the new office-holders.
After making the announcement, the party’s central executive committee (CEC) will meet with MPs and branch secretaries to explain their decision.
According to the Straits Times, choice for first assistant secretary-general – the post that most likely leads to becoming Lee’s successor – appears to have narrowed down to two contenders: Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, 57, and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, 49.
The candidate who takes on Lee’s post will also likely become one of the higest-paid political leaders in the world. According to various estimates, Lee earns an average annual salary of SGD2 million (US$1.45 million) a year.
The sources said Lee is unlikely to attend the media conference on Friday as he intends to focus on the fourth-generation (4G) leadership.
Lee had earlier said his successor must play a key role in ushering the PAP to victory in the next election, which could be held as early as next year but is not due until 2021.
However, the 66-year-old Lee, who is the son of Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, had also mentioned that he intended to step down when he turns 70, which is in 2022.
Since the city-state’s independence, the PAP has dominated Singapore’s politics over the five decades and has won all the elections with significant majorities.
Despite having an opposition, the party faces no real challenge to its power.
“Singaporeans will get a good indication of who is most likely to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as People’s Action Party (PAP) leader and the country’s fourth prime minister tomorrow,” the Straits Times said.