Photo from Straits Times

Singapore Prime Minister poured praises for his three outgoing PAP Ministers – Lim Hng Kiang, Lim Swee Say and Yacoob Ibrahim – claiming that the three have a total of 70 years of “solid battle-tested ministerial experience”:

“I have known them and worked with them over many years – nearly 20 years for Yaacob, and 40 plus years in the cases of Hng Kiang and Swee Say. In terms of ministerial experience, we are losing 70 years of solid, battle-tested experience.”

The Singapore dictator said that he find it “very emotionally difficult” when he asked the three to go:

“I take stock every year – whom to bring in to political office, whom to promote, and who should move on. A single round of Cabinet changes is often incremental. But over time, these regular adjustments add up, and substantially alter the shape and composition of the Cabinet. This latest reshuffle, which also saw more of the fourth-generation ministers taking up leadership roles, was particularly difficult on an emotional level because of the retirement of the three ministers.”

Lee Hsien Loong also revealed that none of the 3 ministers volunteered to retire. The PAP leader who inherited his seat from his father added that although he and his millionaire PAP Ministers are in their sixties and “on top of their game”, they can still carry on for 10 more years:

“While the three still have much to contribute, they graciously agreed to retire, so that younger Ministers can take over their responsibilities, and we can make progress on leadership renewal. Most of the third-generation ministers, including himself, are already into their sixties. We are still largely in good health, touch wood. We can carry on for one more term, at most two. But they must renew the team while they are still vigorous and on top of their game.”

At 66 years old this year, Lee Hsien Loong is Singapore’s oldest Prime Minister. Due to undisclosed reasons, the dictator refused to hand over power and claimed that he needed more time. The PM has not yet chosen a new Deputy Prime Minister yet, which indicates Lee Hsien Loong’s desire to stay as PM until the election in 2025.

In recent months, Lee Hsien Loong has been increasing taxes to gain more tax revenue for GIC and Temasek Holdings where he and his wife Ho Ching sits as Chairman and CEO respectively. Many Singaporeans believe Lee Hsien Loong is delaying succession because he wants to cover the massive losses incurred in the two sovereign wealth fund companies.