Wed, Jun 23, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Lee Kuan Yew says son will do good job


Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew said his son is being appointed prime minister because he is more committed and passionate about the city-state's future than other potential leaders, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The son, Lee Hsien Loong -- who is now deputy prime minister, finance minister and the central bank chief -- is widely expected to take over from current Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in August.

He would become the country's third prime minister since independence in 1965.

Many political observers have suggested that the younger Lee was groomed to follow in his father's footsteps since he was a boy. But the elder Lee, who holds the title of senior minister and still wields considerable influence in Singapore, has consistently insisted that his son's political ascent is based on merit, not nepotism.

"It so happened that he was of that frame of mind and in his generation, he was more committed, more passionate about the future of the country than other people," Lee Kuan Yew said in a report in the Straits Times, a newspaper with close government ties.

He said that as a child, his elder son displayed "exceptional capabilities."

"I think his intellectual power is considerable," the paper quoted him as saying in a television interview in China on Sunday night.

Lee Kuan Yew said Lee Hsien Loong would face a new challenge as prime minister, leading a population that is fast evolving.

"They have absorbed Western ideas and they also demand that they be heard, so he has to hear them," the elder Lee said.

Lee Kuan Yew said he was concerned his son would be compared to himself.

"My worry is for him because the people's expectations are high and they will always [compare] subconsciously," the paper quoted him as saying. "I hope he will be able to do better than me."

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