Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Nov. 5, 2023, at the People's Action Party (PAP) Awards and Convention 2023, that he will hand over the reins to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong before the next General Elections (GE).
The next GE is due to take place no later than Nov. 23, 2025.
"Lawrence has told me that he is ready," said PM Lee.
"I have full confidence in Lawrence and his team and there is no reason to delay the political transition."
PM Lee is the Secretary-General of the PAP, while Wong is its Deputy Secretary-General.
Leadership renewal is critical for PAP and for Singapore
In his speech at the convention, PM Lee pointed out that Singapore needs an "outstanding 'First Team' of leaders — who on top of mastering the politics, can also deliver good government for Singapore".
He attributed Singapore's good civil service to good political leadership that built up a world-class public service.
"Civil servants can only deliver good results if they are led by competent ministers who understand the issues, who make good decisions, who command their respect. Only then can Ministers guide and complement civil servants in their work, and deliver on their political promises."
He used Covid-19 as an example where the ministries and agencies "performed magnificently" and "without the Ministers to make the big, risky decisions, to take political responsibility for them, to provide national leadership, we couldn't have come through as we did".
Next GE will coincide with the leadership transition to 4G team
PM Lee reiterated that his succession plans are back on track, and the ministers have chosen Wong as their leader, with PAP Members of Parliament endorsing the choice.
The only decision left to make is when PM Lee would hand over.
"Should the handover take place before the next GE, or after?
Either I can continue to lead the party in the next GE, which would be my fifth as PM, and then handover soon afterwards to Lawrence; or I can hand over to Lawrence before the GE, then he leads the party in the campaign, wins his own mandate, and takes the country forward with the full backing of the nation."
PM Lee added that he had thought this over and discussed it thoroughly with Wong and the 3G and 4G ministers.
He praised Wong and the 4G team, stating that they have been serving for many years, taking on greater responsibilities and are "preparing well to take the helm".
"Lawrence has told me that he is ready... I have full confidence in Lawrence and his team and there is no reason to delay the political transition. Therefore, I intend to hand over to DPM Lawrence before the next General Elections."
PM Lee stated that "if all goes well", he would hand over the leadership to Wong by the PAP's 70th birthday next year.
The PAP was founded on Nov. 21, 1954, and its 70th birthday will be on Nov. 21, 2024.
This means that PM Lee would hand over the leadership to Wong in about a year’s time “if all goes well”.
After handing over, PM Lee stated that he would be at the new Prime Minister's "disposal".
"I will go wherever he thinks I can be useful. I will do my best to help him and his team to fight and win the next GE and to fulfil their responsibilities... I want to help him fulfil his responsibilities, leading the country, so that Singapore can continue to succeed beyond me and the 3G minister colleagues, for many, many more years to come."
Wong working hard to get ready for the leadership transition
In his speech earlier, Wong shared that he had been "extra busy" this past year helping Singaporeans cope with the rise in the cost of living, picking up new areas of work in foreign policy, defence and security matters, and doing more within the PAP.
He addressed when the leadership transition would happen, and he said, "it's a matter of time".
"In fact, as Secretary-General repeatedly reminds us, the runway is short and getting shorter with each passing day.
So I've been working hard to get ready to receive the baton."
Top photos via PAP/Facebook