Why is Lee Hsien Loong not retiring? Despite being one of the oldest Prime Ministers in the world and welding power for more than 14 years, Lee Hsien Loong said he still need “a little bit more time”.
Officially, Lee Hsien Loong is saying his party is not ready and that he remains undecided who would be his successor. The official reason also meant that the party is disorganised and there has been no proper succession planning. The truth however is more unsettling than the surface reason. Here are the actual reasons why Lee Hsien Loong is not retiring:
1) 38 Oxley Road
The property is currently still occupied by Lee Wei Ling, who appears to be deliberately occupying the house so her brother would not turn it into a memorial or heritage monument. Lee Wei Ling is waiting for her brother to step down as PM, or holding out for as long as she could so a new government would fulfil her father’s last will: complete demolition. Lee Hsien Loong is currently using his puppet ministerial committee to decide the fate of 38 Oxley Road. Due to internal resistance from within the party hoping to respect Lee Kuan Yew’s last will, Lee Hsien Loong needs to personally see his committee preserve the house in his term.
2) Losses in Temasek Holdings and GIC
Lee Hsien Loong’s retirement would warrant him under investigations from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) which he is currently immune to as PM. There have been huge undisclosed losses at the two sovereign wealth fund companies, where he is Chairman of GIC and his wife Ho Ching the CEO of Temasek Holdings. Lee Hsien Loong will need to cover up the losses, and he needs more time to recover the money. Just earlier this year, Lee Hsien Loong came out with the grandiose Terminal 5 plan with a bottomless budget. Terminal 5 is said to cost “tens of billions”, are actively awarding Temasek Holdings and GIC-linked companies for lucrative contracts. This smells exactly just like another form of corruption transferring taxes to fill the missing funds of GIC and Temasek Holdings. The recent slew of increase in taxes is no coincidence, the holes at Temasek Holdings and GIC must be filled up before a new chairman or CEO take over.
3) PAP’s declining popularity
Lucky for Lee Hsien Loong, his father’s death on an election year was a golden opportunity for him to milk the legacy and win the 2015 election using a flood of sympathy votes. Given the number of corruption scandals marring his government in recent years, GE2020 spells trouble. Sympathy votes for his deceased father is dwindling and there is a very real threat that PAP may lose power once Lee Hsien Loong relinquish his leadership as PM. In the eyes of Singaporeans, other than Lee Kuan Yew, there is actually no reason to vote for the PAP. How is PAP going to survive without Lee Kuan Yew? With the help of Law Minister K Shanmugam, Lee Hsien Loong is doing all he can to implement more censorship and clamp down on criticisms, just so his government will forever stay in power using new laws to give his party an unfair advantage.