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Former army chief says ‘team’ ready to lead Singapore if asked

Chan Chun Sing

Singapore, Singapore | AFP | A fast-rising cabinet minister and former army chief seen as a frontrunner to succeed Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday that he and other younger officials were ready to lead Singapore if asked.

Political succession in the affluent city-state was thrust into the limelight last year after Lee, now 65, fainted briefly while delivering a televised speech.

Elections do not have to be held until early 2021. The political succession has always been an orderly exercise in the city-state ruled by the same party since 1959.

Lee, son of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and himself a former brigadier-general, has said the country needs a younger crop of ministers to lead Singapore after he steps down. He has been prime minister for 13 years.

“All of us have to be prepared to do the job when called upon,” Chan Chun Sing, 48, told the Foreign Correspondents Association when asked if he would like to become prime minister, but stressed that he was part of a team that will ensure continuity.

“In Singapore, leadership is a responsibility to be borne not a position to be sought,” the former army major-general said, ruling out any drastic policy changes whoever takes over from Lee.

Chan, a minister in the prime minister’s office and also the labour movement chief, is one of three younger officials depicted in local media as potential future leaders. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is another.

In tightly-ruled and largely strike-free Singapore, the head of the labour movement serves in the government.

Lee Kuan Yew, who led the country to independence in 1965, stepped down in 1990 and was succeeded by former shipping

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