S’pore’s 2nd PM Goh Chok Tong artfully conveys 6-9 month deadline for PM Lee to pick next PM

It is an 'urgent challenge' he 'would like to see settled'. ASAP, folks.

By Jeanette Tan | January 1, 2018

As we know quite well, Goh Chok Tong is an artful politician.

Even after retiring from Cabinet, the Emeritus Senior Minister continues to say things like they are, and often delivers the most pointed of lines in Parliamentary debates.

Who can forget this, for instance, during the July Parliamentary debate over the Lee family saga:

But we digress.

We’re here to tell you about the ongoing year-end discussions about our next Prime Minister and who it will be, which, as they’re ongoing, have spilled over into this new year.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s been happening lately, in case you’ve not been following:

1. A Today article examined what we can expect this year

S’poreans will know in 2018 who shall be next Prime Minister after Lee Hsien Loong

The key points from the analysis here:

  • The next PM will be appointed Deputy Prime Minister in the next cabinet reshuffle, which will happen very soon (early this year).
  • There are three front-runners: Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Labour Chief Chan Chun Sing and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.

2. PM Lee hints of 4G leaders setting agenda for new year

Everything you need to know about PM Lee’s New Year Day Message 2018 in 60 seconds

In his New Year’s Day message, PM Lee said President Halimah Yacob will deliver her first President’s Address in May when the new parliamentary session opens, and that it will contain the government’s agenda for Singapore for the remaining duration of its term (until the next general election, due to be held within the next three years or so).

“This (the agenda) will bear the imprint of the fourth-generation leadership, who are taking on greater responsibilities, and putting forth their ideas for Singapore.”

3. … which reminded us of his speech on ministerial salaries in 2012, where he discussed how he considers their performance:

This is how PM Lee Hsien Loong appraises ministers

By the way, Goh has also in his own way been watching this, and speaking up about it from time to time. Like in August last year, for instance:

Different media covered Goh Chok Tong’s interesting National Day speech differently

“The fourth generation (4G) leaders will have to quickly establish themselves as a cohesive team and identify the captain amongst them… They must try their utmost to bring in potential office-holders from outside the Singapore Armed Forces and public sector to avoid group-think. Highly competent Singaporeans outside the Government must also be prepared to step up and serve.”

But it seems even he might be getting kind of tired of waiting, alongside the rest of us, for PM Lee’s decision — or perhaps the decision of the fourth-generation political leaders — of who his successor will be.

In a New Year’s eve post on Facebook, ESM Goh made the following pretty succinct points with regard to this:

  • Deciding who will be our next PM is an “urgent challenge” he hopes will be settled this year.
  • He hopes it’ll be done in six to nine months’ time.

Not mincing his words, once again. But a pretty clear message he’s sending indeed, in his own skilful way.

Here’s his post:

Here’s the text of his post in full:

“2017 did not end with the glorious sunset I had hoped but 2018 offers a fresh start. Even though the weather is wet and gloomy, let us usher in the new year with optimism and sunshine smiles. We need to be in good spirits to tackle the pressing and longer term challenges for Singapore. One urgent challenge I would like to see settled is our fourth generation leadership. Every succession is different, but one thing remains the same: each cohort will have to pick one amongst themselves to lead, and support him. I hope the current cohort will do so in 6 – 9 months’ time. Then PM can formally designate their choice as his potential successor before 2018 ends. Whoever is chosen, the team will have to work together, bring in others, and gel to form a cohesive fourth generation Cabinet. They must write a new inspiring chapter for Singapore, be courageous to make difficult decisions, stand tall with integrity, and earn the respect and trust of Singaporeans and the world at large. This is my wish for the new year – a Singapore in good hands, a Singapore that all of us build together. As for me, I give a helping hand to some organisations serving vulnerable Singaporeans, especially people with special needs. I am also focused on a few projects to make Marine Parade a Complete Home for All Ages. Happy New Year! — gct”

More on the topic of “Who the heck will be our next PM??”:

Everything you need to know about PM Lee’s New Year Day Message 2018 in 60 seconds

This is how PM Lee Hsien Loong appraises ministers

PAP always pining for private sector individuals who can become ministers

S’poreans will know in 2018 who shall be next Prime Minister after Lee Hsien Loong

Top photo via MParader’s Facebook page

About Jeanette Tan

Jeanette takes pride in her ability to sing the complete lyrics to Hakuna Matata and a host of other Disney songs. She holds out hope to someday be talent-spotted to do voice-overs for documentaries, lifts and automated telephone answering systems.

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