Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah: Next PM issue has been “over-discussed”

The group of 16 4th-gen leaders are 'very much' focused on other 'pressing issues'.

By Jeanette Tan | January 7, 2018

It’s likely that in these months, no one who has been named among the group of 16 fourth-generation leaders will be able to escape questions from the media about who the next Prime Minister of Singapore is likely to be.

The most recent “victim”: Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah.

This time, on Sunday morning, she was waylaid by press at the most innocuous event: the launch of a programme that provides breakfast for children living in rental blocks in Tanjong Pagar GRC, where she is a Member of Parliament.

Here’s The Straits Times‘s report on it (we couldn’t find any from other mainstream media outlets at the time we were writing this story):

Screenshot from The Straits Times

And here’s their recorded-by-potato cam video of her answering the question seeking her views on the leadership succession issue posed by a reporter:

Here’s our transcript of what we could hear from what she said:

“What I would say is this: I think that that topic has been over-discussed.

Essentially the 16 have said what we do need to say about this. It’s really not about us, it’s about Singapore.

So even when you talk about future leadership, you talk about all of this, at the end of the day, what is this for? It’s about ensuring stability for Singapore, it’s ensuring that as a country we have strong leadership and that we are able to progress. And as far as the younger ministers are concerned, our approach is still that you must have a collegiate approach and we work very well together as a team, both the senior members of cabinet as well as the ministers themselves.

And we have a lot of pressing issues: this budget that’s upcoming, there’s jobs, there’s social stuff, fiscal sustainability, so these are the things we are very much focused on.

(responding to a follow-up asking if a favourite has emerged) That’s already been addressed in the statement, meaning that, in good time.”

Over-discussed?

We must admit, this is the first time we’ve had so much uncertainty over who our next PM will be.

It was clear to the Singaporean public when Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong emerged as front-runner years ahead of being appointed as PM in 1990, and also clear for, well, more than a decade, when current PM Lee Hsien Loong came up as our next leader.

Given the lengthy advance notice, we think it’s reasonable to seek certainty — even ESM Goh himself spoke out quite loudly, and also deliberately, he admits, about this:

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

Indranee points out that there are numerous “pressing issues” facing the 16 leaders — whose composition also tends to puzzle us, we must admit:

Goh Chok Tong said he posted his urgent next PM question ‘on purpose’

Some observations from Ong Ye Kung ST interview and 4G leaders’ statement on succession

But okay, she mentions the upcoming Budget, social issues, fiscal stability, jobs. Ultimately, she remains coy, not saying much in response to the answer to “who” or, well, “why all the hemming and hawing”.

We do think the matter of who Singapore’s next leader will be — especially since we don’t actually have a say in it — is important, especially in deciding all the issues she raised, though.

Just sayin’.

Top photo via Indranee Rajah’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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