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Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong to hand over leadership to Deputy PM Lawrence Wong before next elections

Singapore: Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday announced plans to hand over leadership to Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong before the next general elections, set to be called by November 25, Channel News Asia reported.
Sharing more details regarding the ruling People's Action Party's (PAP) transition plans, Lee said that "if all goes well", he will do so by the PAP's 70th birthday on November 21 next year. He made the announcement while addressing more than 1,000 party members at the annual PAP awards and convention held at the Singapore Expo, according to Channel News Asia reported.
During the event, Wong was endorsed as the leader of the party's fourth generation or 4G team, in 2022 after Heng Swee Keat stepped aside so that a younger leader with a "longer runway" could take over the role, according to Channel News Asia report.
Previously, Lee said he hoped to step down before his 70th birthday, which was in February 2022. However, the plan was disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During this year's National Day Rally, he said his succession plans are back on track since the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. He further said that recent controversies involving ministers and Members of Parliament will not postpone the timetable for political renewal. He did not share a timeline then.
On Sunday, Lee told the PAP members that the next general elections will coincide with the party leadership's transition to the 4G team. He noted that with Wong's endorsement as the leader of the 4G team, there remains only one important decision to be made, which is: Should the handover take place before or after the next polls?
Lee further said, "Either I can continue to lead the party in the next GE, which would be my fifth as PM, and then hand over soon afterwards to Lawrence; or I can hand over to Lawrence before the GE, then he leads the party into the campaign, wins his own mandate, and takes the country forward with the full backing of the nation."
He said that the leadership transition for any country "is always tricky" and "many things can go awry", with Singaporeans and people outside the country watching this development closely. Lee said, "Everything depends on the success of this third transition in our history," according to Channel News Asia report.
He said, "I have thought this over carefully and discussed it thoroughly with Lawrence and the ministers, both 3G and 4G." He noted that Lawrence and the 4G team have been serving for many years, "they have taken on greater responsibilities, and they are preparing well to take the helm."
Lee said that Wong and the 4G team have "committed themselves to much hard work" and taken many major initiatives while actively bringing in people to further strengthen the team.
He said, "Lawrence has told me that he is ready, and this morning you have heard him telling you that he is ready for his next assignment. I have full confidence in Lawrence and his team and there is no reason to delay the political transition.
Lee said, "Therefore, I intend to hand over to DPM Lawrence before the next GE." He further said, "After that, I will be at the new PM's disposal. I will go wherever he thinks I can be useful. I will do my best to help him fight and win the next GE."
Lee Hsien Loong said that he wants to help Lawrence fulfil his responsibilities for "leading the country so that Singapore can continue to succeed beyond me and my 3G minister colleagues for many, many more years to come."
Lee stated he turned 71 this year; however, he was not able to pass over on the baton by his 70th birthday, as he hoped to do. He said, "So if all goes well, I will hand over by the PAP's 70th birthday next year - it's not my birthday, but I will borrow it for this purpose."
He spoke about the importance of preparing well to fight and win polls, in addition to governing and keeping the party clean and incorrupt. Lee stated that while PAP's policies might be working, however, votes are harder to win.
He stressed that party members have to engage people in Singapore widely and help them understand how they and their families benefit from these policies.
Lee added, "We have to show them what is at stake and inspire them to fight hard for us, together with us for a better future."
He spoke about the PAP's history of winning 14 general elections consecutively since 1959. He noted that the party was "not born dominant" after a hard fight during the first two polls in 1959 and 1963.
He said, "Over the years, we have lost some seats, but even till now, the PAP has maintained a dominant position. But with each successive election, the PAP's task has become tougher."
He said Singapore and PAP "have been thoroughly transformed, shaped by our many trials and tribulations" during his tenure at PM for almost 20 years, Channel News Asia reported.
Lee said, "But some things never change. We still wear whites; we still formally address each other as comrades. We remain dedicated to Singapore and we still feel the calling to serve the people, we still have the duty to future generations to keep this island safe and secure."
He said that these things will not change under the 4G team and asked everyone to give Lawrence and his team full support.

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