Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from Today Online Ooi Boon Keong

At a dialogue held by state media Straits Times and the Economic Development Board on Friday (Jan 20), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he has not chosen who to be the next Prime Minister and said that the “search is progressing”.

“The search for Singapore’s fourth prime minister is progressing and the public can make their own assessments of the contenders for the top job. The team of next-generation leaders has been put in place and reinforced over the 2011 and 2015 general elections. Ministers have been given portfolios and responsibilities, where they can demonstrate mastery and gain confidence in what they do.”

Prime Minister Lee said that he however will not follow his father’s method of openly criticising the ministers, and “give report cards publicly”.

Singapore’s next Prime Minister is chosen internally only by their predecessor, and the choice is not open to a public vote. There is also no limit on the number of years the same person can be Prime Minister in the same position, and unlike the Elected President, there is also no race and stringent financial qualification requirements.

The current shortlist of potential Prime Minister is Minister of State Chan Chun Sing, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Social and Family Affairs Minister Tan Chuan Jin, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Education Minister Ng Chee Meng. Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong has dropped out of the race after he was kicked out of the ruling party’s Central Executive Committee.

Regarding Singapore’s economy, Prime Minister Lee lowered his expectation and claimed that Singapore “will have done well” if it can maintain a 2-3% GDP growth every year for the next 10 years.

“Singapore’s economy is in a different phase now than when it saw annual growth of 5 per cent to 6 per cent. 2 per cent to 3 per cent growth as a good target in the long term, but the government will stimulate the economy if it has to.”

In the recent GDP figures for 2016, Singapore barely avoided a recession as figures registered a 1.8%.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did not respond on his town council’s corruption investigation, nor on the high profile diplomatic fiasco with China.