Photo of Lee Hsien Loong and son Li Hongyi from Straits Times

Speaking at a public forum organised by Temasek Holdings in Shanghai, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong admits that he is still unable to determine who can be the next Prime Minister. To worsen the matter, the Singapore dictator said he has another problem of finding the next team:

“he issue of who will be Singapore’s next prime minister goes beyond finding the person most suited for the post. More important is having a capable team that can work well together…We have to find a competent team that can work closely together, win the confidence of the people, lead them, and meet and solve challenges together, carve out a new path, and make Singaporeans proud.”

PM Lee said he is still figuring out who can be the next PM and said:

“There is continuous progress in this area, but it is still not time to go public on who this candidate was.”

At 66 years old, Lee Hsien Loong is currently the oldest Prime Minister of Singapore. There have been numerous calls from the public and even within the party for him to resign and hand over power. Lee Hsien Loong is however stuck with poor choices and pressing political issues, rendering a power transition difficult and possibly damaging to his reputation.

Only 3 candidates are shortlisted for the PM role – Minister of State Chan Chun Sing, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. The three however each has his own critical shortcoming – Minister Chan Chun Sing, being a former army general is obedient to PM Lee, but he has no capabilities; Minister Ong Ye Kung is inexperienced and only came to politics late in 2015; Minister Heng Swee Keat is ideal but he suffered a stroke in 2016. Also, none of the three seems interested in handing power over to his son Li Hongyi.

Lee Hsien Loong is also stuck with the massive losses suffered at the two sovereign wealth fund companies – GIC and Temasek Holdings. Handing over premiership would reveal in-depth losses and possibly subject himself to corruption investigation. In Singapore, the Prime Minister has full dictatorial powers including the control of the corruption bureau.