Are frontrunners for PM post a sign of Singapore’s ‘political elite class?’: Low Thia Khiang

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
Former Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang arriving at the party’s Geylang Road headquarters on 8 April 2018. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

Opposition veteran Low Thia Khiang asked in Parliament on Wednesday (16 May) if the “three frontrunners” for Singapore’s next prime minister are an indication of a political elite class.

The Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament noted that the frontrunners come from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the civil service, without stating the identities of those he considered as the leading candidates to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,

Political analysts have identified the trio as Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, who was formerly the Chief of Army in the Singapore Armed Forces; Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was formerly a senior civil servant and the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore; and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who held top positions in the civil service such as chief executive of the Singapore Workforce Agency.

In response to the question from the former Workers’ Party chief, Lee said he did not know “how many people are running”.

The question to ask instead, Lee replied, is whether a person is able to make a contribution, the strengths and weaknesses of a person, and whether he measures up.

“You don’t ask where did he come from, who his parents are. Is it bad to come from the civil service or the SAF? No. Is it necessary to come from there? No. Is it good to have people from a wide range? Yes, we do have a wide range,” Lee replied.

Lee also told the House that the question is not whether it is “a horse race” but who have the capabilities to form the “Singapore team”, adding that there is also depth of private-sector talent in the current government such as doctors, lawyers and those from the business sector.

“And the stronger this team is, the harder I make Mr Low’s job….I just want the best team for Singapore,” Lee said.

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