Strong hint of next Singapore PM expected in ruling party announcement

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks during the opening ceremony of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s ruling party is set to unveil new positions within its top decision making body on Friday in what could give a strong hint toward the country’s future prime minister.

The Straits Times newspaper, often seen as close to the government, reported on Thursday citing unnamed sources that the People’s Action Party is due to announce positions within its central executive committee (CEC) on Friday, including the crucial post of first assistant secretary general.

The role is immediately under the secretary general, currently held by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who has pledged to step down in coming years with an election expected as soon as next year.

Contenders for the role of first assistant secretary general have narrowed to Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, 57, and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, 49, the newspaper said.

The PAP has dominated Singapore’s politics over the five decades since the city-state’s independence, winning all the elections with significant majorities, and faces no real challenge to its power.

“Singaporeans will get a good indication of who is most likely to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as People’s Action Party (PAP) leader and the country’s fourth prime minister tomorrow,” the Straits Times said.

A spokesman for the PAP declined to comment on the article.

PM Lee – the son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew – suggested earlier this month a general election may be called next year, more than a year before his government’s mandate ends.

Reporting by John Geddie and Fathin Ungku; Editing by Michael Perry

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