Lee dynasty has cemented dominance of Spore politics
- Lee dynasty has cemented dominance of Spore politics
By Mark Baker
June 2, 2004
The Lee dynasty has cemented its dominance of Singapore politics for
another generation with the endorsement of Lee Kuan Yew's eldest son
as the country's next prime minister.
A closed-door meeting of the ruling People's Action Party's central
executive has confirmed that Lee Hsien Loong, 52, will succeed Goh
Chok Tong, who is expected to retire in August after 13 years in the
The announcement ratifies a promotion seen as inevitable since Lee
Kuan Yew - Singapore's founding father - relinquished the prime
ministership in 1990.
The elevation of Lee Hsien Loong, who is Deputy Prime Minister,
Finance Minister and chairman of the central bank, will tighten the
Lee family's grip on political and corporate power.
His younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, is chief executive of SingTel,
Singapore's biggest phone company, and his wife, Ho Ching, is head of
Temasek Holdings, the secretive corporation through which the
Government controls its vast business assets.
Lee Kuan Yew, who turns 81 in September, remains in cabinet as Senior
Minister and is still widely regarded as the most powerful figure in
But there is speculation he will announce his retirement once his son
is installed as prime minister.
A statement released by the People's Action Party - which has ruled
Singapore with a firm, paternal grip since independence in 1965 -
said a meeting of Government MPs last Friday unanimously supported
the party leadership's choice of Lee Hsien Loong as the next prime
Several of the MPs - all of whom remained silent when asked whether
they had any alternative candidates - were defensive about the lack
of an open contest for the leadership.
First-term MP Zainudin Nordin said the party executive's decision to
consult him and his colleagues was a measure of progress.
"Whether people see it as rubber-stamping, or whether real
contributions are made, it's a good beginning," he told the Straits
Several MPs were defensive about the lack of an open contest for the
leadership.Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh insist that Lee Hsien Loong, a dry
bureaucrat with little of the popular appeal of the man he will
replace, has got to the top on his own merits.
Describing the Lees as "an exceptional family", Mr Goh told the
Financial Times last year: "There can be perception, there can be
allegations, but it can't be proven that there was nepotism."
Mr Goh, 63, delayed his departure to help Singapore ride out the
recent regional economic downturn.
The city-state is booming again, with 7.5 per cent growth reported in
the first quarter of this year, according to local government owned news papers.
Lee Hsien Loong said he was moved by the trust shown in him by his
colleagues. "I look forward to working with all Singaporeans to help
the country progress and to build a better future," he said.