Mon, Jul 26, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Lee eager to rule Singapore


Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, is relishing the opportunity to lead the city-state when he succeeds Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong on August 12, he said in remarks published yesterday.

"This is something that has been prepared for a long time," Lee told the Sunday Times at the sidelines of a community event on Saturday. "I am preparing myself, too, and looking forward to the responsibility."

Lee has been seen as a leader-in-waiting ever since he was appointed as one of two deputy prime ministers when Goh became prime minister in 1990.

He has held most of the top economic posts and is currently finance minister and chairman of the central bank. He has also been leading the committee tasked with restructuring the economy.

Lee, 52, said finding a new generation of leaders for the city-state was one of his main priorities when he takes over as prime minister.

"We have a strong team, we have an economy that is on the go and the immediate challenge is to rally the young people and also to find new leaders for the future," he said.

Lee said his new Cabinet was almost chosen and would likely be announced one or two days before he was due to be installed as prime minister.

He did not say whether he will have one or two deputies but analysts say they expect him to follow tradition. Goh has two deputies, as did the elder Lee when he was prime minister.

Lee has said in an earlier interview he wants both Goh and his father in his Cabinet in order to tap on their experience. The elder Lee is currently the senior minister in Goh's Cabinet.

Only two men have served as prime minister since his father took power in 1959, when British colonial rulers introduced self-government.

The elder Lee, a formidable authoritarian figure, led Singapore to independence from the Malaysian Federation in 1965 and stayed in power until he stepped aside for Goh in 1990.

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