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Singapore PM Lee to step down on May 15, Deputy PM Wong to succeed

Lee is handing over the reins later than intended, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and after a hiccup in succession plans.

singaporeSINGAPORE: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Monday he will step down on May 15 after nearly 20 years of heading the government of the economically prosperous country as part of the long-planned leadership transition and will be succeeded by his deputy Lawrence Wong.

Lee is handing over the reins later than intended, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and after a hiccup in succession plans.

Lee, 72, was sworn in as Singapore’s third Prime Minister on August 12, 2004.

In a Facebook post, Lee said leadership transition is a significant moment for any country.

“Last November, I announced my intention to step down as Prime Minister this year. I will relinquish my role as Prime Minister on May 15, 2024, and DPM (Deputy Prime Minister) Lawrence Wong will be sworn in as the next Prime Minister on the same day.

“For any country, a leadership transition is a significant moment. Lawrence and the 4G team (fourth generation) have worked hard to gain the people’s trust, notably during the pandemic.

Through the Forward Singapore exercise, they have worked with many Singaporeans to refresh our social compact and develop the national agenda for a new generation,” he said.

“The 4G team are committed to keeping Singapore working well and moving ahead. These will always be top priorities for the government. I ask all Singaporeans to give Lawrence and his team your full support, and work with them to create a brighter future for Singapore,” Lee said.

The political succession in Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) appeared to be taking shape from 2018 when Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat was tipped to be the next Prime Minister.

But in April 2021, Heng, then 60 years old, stepped aside as a candidate for the top job, citing his age as the reason.

PAP has ruled the city-state ever since independence.

After a year of deliberation, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong was named the successor and, shortly after, he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister.

The 51-year-old will be appointed Prime Minister when Lee steps down.

The transition comes 12 years after Lee pronounced in 2012 that he did not want to be Prime Minister beyond the age of 70, according to a report by Channel News Asia.

Born in 1952, the eldest son of Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, was an impressive mathematician in school.

He graduated in 1974 as a Senior Wrangler in the Mathematics Tripos – equivalent to first-class honours.

He also had a diploma in computer science, with distinction.

Shortly after becoming an MP, Lee was appointed Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Defence.

He was also Second Minister for Defence and Minister for Trade and Industry in the 80s and early 90s.

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