Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong says he will step down as early as next year

Singaporean leader says he will hand the reins to deputy Lawrence Wong as soon as November 2024.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced plans to step down as early as next year [File: Mast Irham/AP Photo]

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced he will hand over the leadership of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) before the 2025 general elections.

Lee, 71, said on Sunday that he would hand the reins to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong as soon as the PAP’s 70th anniversary in November 2024.

Addressing PAP members on Sunday, Lee said Wong had proved himself as head of the government’s COVID-19 task force during the pandemic and “there is no reason to delay the political transition”.

“Therefore, I intend to hand over to DPM Lawrence before the next general election,” Lee said.

“After that, I will be at the new PM’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.”

Wong, a former minister for finance and national development, gained prominence overseeing Singapore’s COVID response, which achieved one of the world’s lowest rates of illness and death during the early days of the pandemic.

Wong’s leadership of the PAP would all but ensure he becomes the fourth leader of Singapore, where strict controls on political activism and extensive gerrymandering have helped the party secure more than 60 years of interrupted rule.

In the 2020 election, the PAP won 83 of 93 seats in parliament even as the opposition had its most successful performance in the nation’s history.

Wong would be Singapore’s second leader not to come from the Lee family after Goh Chok Tong, who governed between 1990 and 2004.

Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong’s father, was the city-state’s founding father and first prime minister.

Singapore was rocked by rare political upheaval earlier this year when three governing party members resigned over corruption allegations and an extramarital affair.

Source: News Agencies