Singaporeans will have a good indication of who will most likely replace Lee Hsien Loong's Prime Minister as the leader of the People's Party (PAP) and the fourth Prime Minister on Friday (November 23).
According to sources, the party's highest decision-making bodies met on Wednesday evening to finalize the selection of people who hold the key position of the First Assistant Secretary General.
The Central Executive Committee (CEC) also strengthened the rest of its new office workers.
The Straits Times understands that PAP will announce its composition in public on Friday. On the same day there will also be a separate meeting with MPs and industry secretaries to inform them about the CEC decision.
PM Lee, general secretary of PAP, is unlikely to attend a media conference because he intends to focus on the leadership of the fourth generation, the source said. The 66-year-old said he was going to give the premiere when he turned 70, in 2022.
But before that, PM Lee said that his successor must play a key role in directing PAP to the next general elections, which the cadres say that may take place next year, but must take place by April 2021.
The election of the First Assistant Secretary General seems to be narrowed down to two candidates: Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, 57 and Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, 49.
The duo was one of those whose members voted in the Central Executive Committee two weeks ago during a solemn party conference in which five senior members resigned from being in the top of the party.
The top five were Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the first and second secretaries general of PAP, respectively. Their departure opens the door to Mr. Heng and Mr. Khan to take over these leadership positions.
Mr. Heng and Mr. Chan were also among the seven names in which CEC was listed as the best of the highest party commissions.
Other "third-generation" leaders will continue to play a key role in the next phase of the PAP, and some observers say that Interior Minister and Law Officer K. Shanmugam (aged 59) can be appointed party chairman, given his strong ideological beliefs and ability to rank and file party.
However, it is expected that the seven other 4G leaders in the current 14-member CEC will play an increasingly important role in making party and country decisions in the coming months, together with Mr Heng and Mr Chan.
They are: Minister of culture, community and youth Grace Fu, 54; Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, 55; Minister in the office of Prime Minister Indranee Raja, 55 years old; Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng, 50; Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, 48; Chairman of the parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, 49; and minister of labor Josephine Teo, 50.
In addition to revealing a new list of office owners, PAP is also to announce additional members who have joined CEC.
The article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.
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