Fri, Nov 23, 2018 - Page 4 News List

New posts in Singaporean party hint to next leader

Reuters, SINGAPORE

Singapore’s People’s Action Party is set to unveil new posts within its top decisionmaking body today in what could give a strong hint about who would become its fourth prime minister, with domestic media saying the finance minister is the frontrunner.

The Straits Times, often seen as close to the government, yesterday reported that the party is due to announce positions within its central executive committee today, including the crucial post of first assistant secretary-general, citing unidentified sources.

The role is immediately under the secretary-general, currently held by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍). Lee has pledged to step down in coming years, with an election expected as soon as next year.

The potential leadership transition comes as rising global protectionism threatens Singapore’s open economy, while at home the government tries to address growing unease over wealth disparity and social mobility.

Contenders for the role of first assistant secretary-general have narrowed to Singaporean Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat (王瑞傑), 57, and Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing (陳振聲), 49, the Straits Times reported.

The online news site Today, which is affiliated with broadcaster Channel News Asia, said that Heng would likely be named as first assistant secretary-general, also citing unidentified party sources.

The Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao, a sister paper of the Straits Times, also reported that Heng was likely to be named to the post.

Heng was one of three ministers tipped earlier this year to succeed Lee. He is the most experienced of the leading candidates, but concerns about his health after he had a stroke and collapsed during a Cabinet meeting in 2016 has raised questions about his suitability.

A spokesman for the party declined to comment on the article.

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