Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Order of Succession And Baton Passing

Update 23 Sep 2016: UN chief delivered hard-hitting final Speech warning leaders not to rewrite Constitution
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a hard-hitting Speech in his tenth and final speech at the U.N. General Assembly. His Speech was directed against a host of world leaders from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to South Sudan’s Salva Kiir Mayardit

In the Speech filled with frustration, Ban charged that: “In too many places, we see leaders rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking other desperate steps to cling to power.”

Adding: “My message to all is clear: serve your people. Do not subvert democracy; do not pilfer your country’s resources; do not imprison and torture your critics.”

Although the Government of Singapore has changed the Republic’s Constitution a few times (including a pending change to the Elected Presidency scheme); although the ruling party has been accused of gerrymandering elections to give itself an unfair advantage to cling onto power; although citizens who have been detained without trial allege torture; it is highly unlikely that Ban was targeting Singapore in his Speech.

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UN General Assembly Opening Session

Singapore’s succession struggles

When Lee Hsien Loong collapsed during the National Day Rally speech on 21 August 2016, it shocked not only many Singaporeans, but also leaders from around the world. Although he recovered quickly and was able to finish his speech after a short break, the incident drew attention to the issue of leadership succession in a country that has long experienced predictable politics with little change.

While Singapore maintains the appearance of a democracy, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has dominated politics since independence by creating significant barriers to political opposition — currently the PAP control more than 90 per cent of seats. In order to maintain this level of control, the PAP has successfully transferred power to the next generation of hand-picked leaders. But presently, the leadership succession is still unclear despite the fact that the current prime minister is already 64 years old.

This level of uncertainty is a new development in post-independence Singaporean politics, which has become used to the dominant role of the PAP. The party’s first leader and prime minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew, has often been affectionately called the nation’s founding father. His successor, Goh Chok Tong, was widely seen as a seat warmer for the current prime minister, who is the son of the elder Lee.

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Order of Succession And Baton Passing

An order of succession is the sequence of those entitled to hold a high office such as head of state or an honour such as a title of nobility in the order in which they stand in line to it when it becomes vacated. This sequence may be regulated through descent or by statute.

An established order of succession is the normal way of passing on hereditary positions, and also provides immediate continuity after an unexpected vacancy in cases where office-holders are chosen by election: the office does not have to remain vacant until a successor is elected. In some cases the successor takes up the full role of the previous office-holder, as in the case of the presidency of many countries; in other non-hereditary cases there is not a full succession, but a caretaker chosen by succession criteria assumes some or all of the responsibilities, but not the formal office, of the position. For example, when the position of Catholic Pope becomes vacant, the College of Cardinals collectively carries out the essential functions of the papacy until a successor is elected

Monarchies and nobility - In hereditary monarchies the order of succession determines who becomes the new monarch when the incumbent sovereign dies or otherwise vacates the throne. Such orders of succession usually specify a selection process, by law or tradition, which is applied to indicate which relative of the previous monarch, or other person, has the strongest claim to assume the throne when the vacancy occurs. Often, the line of succession is restricted to persons of the blood royal (but see morganatic marriage), that is, to those legally recognized as born into or descended from the reigning dynasty or a previous sovereign. The persons in line to succeed to the throne are called "dynasts". Constitutions, statutes, house laws, and norms may regulate the sequence and eligibility of potential successors to the throne.

Search for successor remains biggest challenge
AUG 12, 2004: Newly sworn-in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shaking hands with Singapore’s first PM, his father Lee Kuan Yew, who received his appointment as Minister Mentor from then President S R Nathan at the Istana

It has been a priority for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong right from the start - the search for Singapore's next prime minister.

Ten years into his premiership, it remains his biggest challenge, say political observers. "That seems to be a particularly pressing issue for the Cabinet and for PM Lee," says National University of Singapore (NUS) political scientist Reuben Wong. "Right now, we don't have a clear candidate."

With the other two prime ministers before Mr Lee, potential successors emerged earlier in their tenure, he adds. When Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew passed the baton to Mr Goh Chok Tong, the third leader, PM Lee, was already in the wings.

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Who shall be the next prime minister of Singapore after Lee Hsien Loong?
The hunt for a successor is on but the there is no point reading the tea leaves if you don’t take into consideration these following facts

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is 62 years old this year. He became PM on Aug. 12, 2004. At 52 then, PM Lee was Singapore’s oldest prime minister.

PM Lee has said he plans to hand over the reins by 2020. But he also said it was not his call to choose who should be the next PM but for “the younger ministers in the team to work out among themselves whom they will support as their leader”.

Deputy prime ministers Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean are 63 and 66 respectively. It is highly unlikely, but if either takes over as prime minister, they will be a one-term PM.

The Succession – After Lee, who?
There must be a potential PM around here

On this day, 12 august 2014, marks 10 years for Lee Hsien Loong’s tenure as Prime Minister. Naturally as in politics, the talk goes into who is going to succeed him. It is a very tricky issue, as it ties the fact that it is unclear when the Prime Minister himself is going to step down and how.

But for those who hope that he will do so before the next general election in 2016, tough luck. Why? It is likely that PM Lee would want to be at the helm come the 50th anniversary of Singapore (SG50), So he won’t likely exit the stage before or during the anniversary (Plus this also means the general election won’t be held in 2015, since nothing “unites” the nation better on an important date than a general election).

So he will lead us into 2016, into a general election, likely for the last time, so then what? there are several options:

Predictability suffers as PM No 4 remains elusive

Way before Mr Lee Kuan Yew stepped aside as Singapore’s first Prime Minister in 1990, the world knew who would take over. And as Mr Goh Chok Tong warmed the seat, everybody knew that he was keeping it nice and sweet for his deputy and Mr Lee’s son, Mr Lee Hsien Loong.

These were perfectly-scripted handovers of power, something that must have been envied by administrations the world over. Today, nine years after Lee Junior became the country’s third PM, a major unpredictablity has crept into the smooth and sanitised succession process that has been part of the Singapore government’s bragging rights.

For the first time in Singapore’s post-independent history, there is no clear clue as to who will become the country’s fourth PM. With another seven years left for a new leader to take over — PM Lee has set a target of 2020 to step aside — the succession issue will get more vexing.

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Succession planning for S'pore leadership under way: PM
PM Lee (second from left) meeting editors of the Asia News Network at the Istana on Tuesday for an hour-long dialogue which was moderated by Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez (third from left). -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Succession planning for Singapore's top political leadership is well under way, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Lee, who is 62 this year, said he is making sure a new team, with new leaders capable of taking charge of the country, is ready.

His goal is to ensure the country continues to thrive after he is no longer the prime minister, he said at a dialogue with regional media editors at the Istana.

related: Succession planning for S'pore leadership under way: PM

PM Lee hopes to have successor team in place before turning 70

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday hinted that Singapore must have his successor and the next team to govern the country in place well before he turns 70.

Mr Lee, who is 61, was asked on the Channel NewsAsia programme 'Ask the PM', if he intends to stay on as prime minister beyond the age of 67, the age Mr Lee Kuan Yew stepped down and handed over the reins to Mr Goh Chok Tong.

Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser asked Mr Lee what qualities should the next prime minister have, and if he had such a person in mind. Mr Lee replied: "We have good talent. We have people who have the commitment, the ability, who have the experience collectively to make the system work

PM’s Identity Crisis

It has been 10 years since Lee Hsien Loong became prime minister of Singapore, yet his style and achievements are hard to put a finger on, as Singapore grapples with a maturing economy, a population mix that throws up questions about national identity and inequality and a citizenry that has suddenly been let loose by a vibrant and raucous online world.

There was no mistake about what founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his successor, Goh Chok Tong, stood for very early in their leadership years. Pushed to the wall by racial and ethnic riots, separation from the Federation of Malaya, and the withdrawal of British troops, the best and worst of LKY came out. He was bent on building an economic miracle, even if it meant he had to put his opponents behind bars.

After 31 years of LKY’s reign, which saw Singapore punching above its weight as a regional economic powerhouse but receiving international ridicule for its human rights record, Goh identified a sweet spot to position his prime ministership as one that would make the country a caring one. Although there were instances that made him take a hard line, generally his reign was a gentler and kinder one.

Leadership Renewal Continues with Latest Cabinet Reshuffle

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong has promoted Mr Tan Chuan-Jin and Mr Lawrence Wong to full ministers and named two new ministers of state to bolster the social and health teams, in a move he said was aimed at strengthening the Cabinet and helping Singapore through an important period of transition.

He said the Government was creating opportunities for Singaporeans through skills upgrading and raising productivity, improving lives through sports, culture and youth engagement, and giving people peace of mind through stronger social safety nets in health and for the elderly.

"These major policy shifts require good political leadership, close coordination across ministries, effective ground implementation and strong support from Singaporeans," he added. He was strengthening the Cabinet line-up "to address our priorities and challenges, and see Singapore through our next phase of development".

My take on MM Lee and SM Goh stepping down from cabinet

Both Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong released a joint statement on Saturday evening that they have decided to leave the cabinet. This means that they have relinquished their ministerial responsibilities and will remain only as a Members of Parliament representing their respective constituencies.

It should not come as a shock that MM Lee has decided finally to retire from the PAP cabinet. After all, he is 87 years old and has served two full decades first as Senior Minister and then as Minister Mentor after he passed the baton to the younger generation. The vast majority feel that he has done his due and should retire gracefully. Indeed, many feel his retirement from politics is long overdue.

Senior Minister Goh’s retirement from the PAP cabinet however might come as a bit of a surprise. He gave no hint that was on the cards during the 2011 general elections or during the months leading up to it. Before the elections, he was still speaking actively on national issues, including his own role in grooming the younger ministers and identifying potential Prime Ministers from the 4th generation cohort.

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The PM’s performance was the focus of the media interview at the end of SingFirst’s walkabout in his Ang Mo Kio GRC yesterday. It is common knowledge and widely felt among Singaporeans that the economy has become less robust and society is more divided, stressed and unhappy.

He has failed to repeat his father’s achievements as PM.

Lee Hsien Loong’s dismal record is unimaginable given that he has been “trained” as minister for 20 years before taking on the job as PM in 2004. Neither have the genes from his father been of much help. He might have inherited intelligent genes from his father but certainly not his performance. Unhappiness with their MP’s performance as PM was evident from our conversations with several groups of AMK residents in our walkabout. We met many residents who were severely affected by PAP’s policies that did not create a trickle down effect for the lower to middle class families, even in the PM’s GRC.

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Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong answers question on possibility of a third PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says Singapore might have another PM Lee, but he doesn’t think “it goes in the family”.

Lee, who has been Singapore’s prime minister since 2004 and is the eldest son of the city-state’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, was asked in an interview whether Singapore could see a third PM Lee.

“It could be. There are many Lees in the world. I think we are the most common surname among the Chinese. But I don't think that it goes in the family,” he replied to Hu Shuli, the editor-in-chief of Caixin Media, a Chinese news publisher.

Hsien Loong fields question of possibility of third PM Lee
Singapore could have a third Prime Minister Lee as it is a common Chinese surname, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong does not think "it goes in the family". -- FILE PHOTO: ZAOBAOPublished on Feb 17, 2014

Singapore could have a third Prime Minister Lee as it is a common Chinese surname, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong does not think "it goes in the family".

In an interview with Chinese magazine New Century, published by Caixin, Mr Lee was asked if there could be a third PM Lee in Singapore.

He replied: "It could be. There are many Lees in the world. I think we are the most common surname among the Chinese. But I don't think that it goes in the family."

Race to find PM Lee's successor is on

While Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that his successor has not yet been chosen, his actions over the last few weeks suggest that, at the very least, the field is starting to narrow.

First, there was the appointment of Education Minister Heng Swee Keat - already two years into helming his ministry, and fresh from organising the Our Singapore Conversation - as the chair of a yet another key national committee, one to commemorate Singapore's 50th year of independence.

Then on Wednesday, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing was promoted to full minister and made Second Minister for Defence.

PM succession doesn’t have to follow old ways
PM Lee with Tharman

Chan Chun Sing’s promotion to full minister back in August reignited discussion on who is poised to be the next Prime Minister. Succession is expected around the year 2020. Most observers believe Heng Swee Keat and Mr Chan are frontrunners for the job, followed by the likes of Tan Chuan Jin and Lawrence Wong. All four, with Sim Ann, were part of the newly elected “fabulous five” in the 2011 General Election.

Prevalent in the discussion is the legitimate concern that should one of these end up as the next PM, he or she will have less than ten years of political experience on taking over. PM Lee himself lamented recently: “I had twenty years apprenticeship before I took over as PM. I don’t think any other PM in Singapore is ever going to be as lucky as me.”

In that sense, this is a problem the PAP has created for itself. It had two elections — 2001 and 2006 — to produce a successor, but didn’t. For a party that takes pride in its long term planning over short term opportunism, this was a jarring failure.

A PM in search of a legacy
Anticipations were high for this year’s National Day Rally speech. One could not help but wonder how Lee Hsien Loong would mark the event, days after his 10th year anniversary as prime minister

As it turned out, the momentous occasion was matched by a momentous concession by Lee. Retired citizens would finally be able to withdraw a lump sum of their CPF savings, though not more than 20 per cent.

The CPF scheme has been a lingering bone of contention for many retirees who feel that they should be entitled to withdraw, as they see fit, the money they have worked hard to save over the years. While they may not be able to withdraw theirentire savings, the modification to the CPF scheme allows a level of autonomy long denied to them.

This concession ties in well with the Pioneer Package, espoused by Lee during the speech. By using the “red card” issued in the package, older Singaporeans will now also be able to enjoy significant rebates in medical costs.

The 2014 National Day Rally: An impression of significance
As a statement of legacy, the 2014 rally did not make a strong impression. Perhaps, this reflected a deliberate decision by the Prime Minister not to crow on successes but to focus on the future. If so, it speaks to his character and sense of political judgement that the people are not in a mood to deliver unto him accolades for the past road taken but are looking for assurances that he has a path forward that better matches their aspirations and needs

As a claim to legitimacy for a new lease on leadership he also made, again perhaps deliberately, a weak case. Rather than anoint a successor or even indicate his preferences of attributes for a successor, he has left the question open as to who specifically or what kind of person to whom he may choose to pass on the heavy baton of premiership.

In not using his 10th Rally speech to make a strong case for his legacy or the future legitimacy of the next leader, Mr Lee inadvertently provides a default testimony to his leadership style - well-intentioned but ambiguous, impassioned but diffident, well-articulated but often more form than substance.

This is a pity for it masks the real efforts he has made to be his own man, the willingness to respond, however belatedly, to public sentiment and the strength of character and of body to bear the load of leadership for a full decade under rapidly changing circumstances. He should hope that when the time eventually comes to make a full and fair evaluation of his premiership Singaporeans will make their assessment in the context of his time and not take his measure using only the dip stick of the moment. For now, he deserves credit for trying to shape his political shadow but it would be better if he instead shaped, while he still can, the political man.

Lee and Lee - The job has changed

The city-state of Singapore appears to have run squarely yo mid-life crisis nine years after Lee Hsien Loong became Prime Minister and two years after an embarrassing general election outing by his ruling People's Action Party (PAP)  and eighteen months after a humiliating by-election defeat. The question observers in some circles have begun to ask is this: Just exactly where is the Singapore Leader?

In a country where leadership has traditionally been decisive, clear in your face, the government under Lee in recent years has been uncharacteristically muddling through a mini-crisis of confidence. There has been compalints by Singaporeans about the seemingly unchecked entry of foreign workers into the country, the growing rich-poor divide, high cost of housing, an overworked public transit system that has been plagued by delays and breakdowns and scandals involving top civil servants.

Even the one thing that Singapore has been bragging right over in the past - its high annual economic growth rate - is now fading as the country becomes a matured economy and settles into modest growth rates. The mood of the nation is turning sour with the population "wanting to have the cake and eat it too", as Eugene Tan, an assistant Law Professor at Singapore Management University (SMU) said.


From LKY to LHL – succession management and baton passing

Succession is always a tricky issue. Even in otherwise smooth transitions, tensions can linger. For example in 1988, after it had already been decided that Goh Chok Tong would be the next Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew publicly said that his first preference was Tony Tan, who turned down the job, and that GCT had a wooden TV speaking manner, such that once LKY advised him to see a psychiatrist about improving it, to which GCT merely replied that psychiatrists are for curing madness, not for speech therapy. If he felt any irritation at being asked to see a shrink, he did not show it.

Shortly after being confirmed, GCT was asked about his own succession plans, and readily identified Lee Hsien Loong as the most promising of the young Ministers. Despite LHL’s suitably modest reply that the decision was up to the Cabinet and the party, to everyone it was a given that LHL will be GCT’s successor, and indeed the view “GCT is only a seat warmer” dogged him through much of his premiership. With no world wide web as propagation tool, the view was mostly heard as snide commentary and crude jokes in coffeeshop conversations, and any media comments along the line were vigorously countered. Even a commentary like this by Catherine Lim was seen as suggesting that he was not really in charge, and drew an immediate rebuke.

Simply by staying in office till 2004, GCT proved the seat warmer characterisation incorrect, but it certainly impacted the political scene for quite a long period. 20-odd years on, with the kind of loud buzz we constantly find circulating around the Internet, it is hard for everyone to remember the tense atmosphere of the first GCT years.

PM Lee Hsien Loong believes another Lee Kuan Yew would be the ideal choice as leader for Singapore

Other than the valorization of the LKYian leadership style (an element that has landed the PAP in its plight of increasing political irrelevance) in Hsien Loong’s belief that another Kuan Yew would be ideal for Singapore. Full story

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LHL: "Ideally, we have another LKY"

I found this later: "Ideally, we have another Lee Kuan Yew".

I have been pushing the point that the very good is not good enough for us. We need to be great and bearing in mind that the good is the enemy of the great. I am glad the PM feels the same.

Of course the times are different and we will not get another LKY. In the same way Abraham Lincoln isn't George Washington but we need a transformational leader.

PM LHL has a more difficult task as Prime Minister of Singapore than MM Lee era

At least you you know the situation is different btw the LKY time and LHL time. LKY time was "Survival" to build a nation from "S****". Singapore was basically a swampland. The achievable is obvious and not naked to the eye. LHL time (current) is different. The country has already being developed. All the necessary Infrastructures are up and running. His task is more difficult. It is more on GDP growth - to keep the economy robust, without which the country will be spiralling downward

As for the current team, I think they lack the fire in the belly and the altruism. As LKY famously said before, how do you recreate those conditions of the 50s and 60s that brought the likes of Goh Keng Swee, S Rajaratnam, him and others together, to fight for a common cause which was 'survival' and when "more GDP growth" was not a phrase for us to use at that time? You can't

To imply that our PM ignores the livelihood of the people, social development, and environmental issues does not gel with the facts. The fact that there are problems on the ground doesn't mean that the PM is not concerned, just because you disagree with the govt's handling of the problems. The question you must ask is whether the government is responding to the problems or is it sweeping them under the carpet?

Weaning S'pore off the Great Man leadership style
Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is a great leader

Yet, after witnessing a week of salutary tributes on the occasion of his 90th birthday, I wonder if Singapore might have a Great Leader problem.

Not so much a dearth of them - although that is a future possibility that may have to be reckoned with one day.

But that Singaporean society has become so wedded to the idea and style of Great Man leadership that we do disservice to our past, and are ill-prepared for a complex and unpredictable future.


PAP could lose ‘control, power over next 15-25 years’
PAP supporters at the Nomination centre at Singapore Chinese Girls School during the 2011 General Election. TODAY file photo

The People’s Action Party (PAP) could lose the dominance it currently enjoys in Parliament in 15 years, said prominent businessman Ho Kwon Ping yesterday, adding that the party could completely lose power a decade after that if the history of dominant political parties around the world is anything to go by.

“This is actually not a radical conclusion — almost everyone I informally surveyed broadly agreed with it, but (differed) only in their estimation as to how many years it would take before the PAP would lose an election and how many terms it would stay out of power before bouncing back,” Mr Ho added.

Mr Ho, who is executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings and an S R Nathan fellow, raised the scenarios at an Institute of Policy Studies (IPS)-Nathan lecture, where he spoke about politics and governance to an audience comprising about 300 civil servants, students, academics and members of the private sector.

Challenge for PAP to retain same dominance as in the past: Ho Kwon Ping

The People's Action Party will face a challenge to retain the same degree of control over Parliament as it has had in the past, said Mr Ho Kwon Ping in his first lecture as S R Nathan Fellow for the Study of Singapore.

Speaking at the University Cultural Centre, Mr Ho said history has not been encouraging to founding political parties after three or four generations. He said historical trends elsewhere point towards a possible election loss by the PAP in the second half of the next 50 years.

The most likely reason could be a freak election, followed by a split within the ruling party and a massive loss of political legitimacy, said Mr Ho.

PAP considering possibility of forming coalition govt one day: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singaporeans generally feel more secure these days, but one of the government's tasks is to remind them that this is a result of a continuing act of will, and an appropriate sense of insecurity is very helpful.

In an interview with The Financial Times, Mr Lee was asked by the publication's chief foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman, if Singaporeans still need to feel insecure, after having come a long way since its independence in 1965.

"You don't have to be paranoid but you do have to take risks very seriously," said Mr Lee.

PM Lee's interview with the Financial Times

The Financial Times report then goes on to suggest that Mr Lee "hints that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of one day forming a coalition government".

The British newspaper quotes Mr Lee saying: "It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated - you're getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now."

Based on this portion of the FT report, an earlier version of the Channel NewsAsia report was headlined "PAP considering possibility of forming coalition government one day: PM Lee."

Coalition govt not on my mind: PM Lee
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has clarified that the possibility of Singapore having a coalition government was not what he had in mind when he was interviewed by the Financial Times

What he meant was that there could be a day where the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) is no longer dominant, but to think that therefore instead of that, Singapore will have a "stable two party system is naive", he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.

In the FT interview published on Saturday, which has been widely shared online, FT chief foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman wrote that "PM Lee hints that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of one day forming a coalition government".

He then quotes PM Lee as saying: "It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated - you're getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now."

Deconstructing PM’s denial

In fact, after FT published their report, Singapore mainstream media the Straits Times (ST) and Channel NewsAsia (CNA) did the same. Although the interview covered numerous issues, ST homed in on PM Lee’s apparent admission that “the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of forming a coalition government one day”. The ST article was published online (12 Apr) the day following the FT article and carried the title, “Coalition government possible in future, says PM Lee”.

However, that ST article has since been removed. Fortunately, TRE has found a copy of the deleted article on Google’s cache [Link]

Like ST, CNA zoomed in on PM Lee’s apparent admission in an article on Saturday [Link]. The article at first had the headline, “PAP considering possibility of forming coalition government one day: PM Lee“, but the headline was subsequently changed to “PM Lee discusses S’pore politics, nanny state label in FT interview“.

PM hints of coalition politics

It was a very direct question loaded with possibilities, something no Singapore journalist would ask of his/her PM.

With the results of the 2011 election as a backdrop, Financial Times journalist Gideon Rachman asked: So can you envisage a day when the  PAP is not running Singapore? The PM threw a bombshell of sorts. “It could well happen. I don’t know how it will work but it could happen.”

The report went on to say: “A little later, he hints that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility  one day of forming a coalition government.” It then quoted the PM as saying “it may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated – you are getting used to more complicated – you’re getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now.”

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Recently, an article published by the Financial Times (FT) quoted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as having said that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of one day forming a coalition government. (See here.) These remarks were supposedly made to a columnist over lunch at the Park Terrace of the Royal Garden Hotel in London.

This was picked up by both the Straits Times and Channel News Asia, which ran headlines stating “Coalition government possible in future, says PM Lee” and “PAP considering possibility of forming coalition government one day: PM Lee” respectively.

However, Mr Lee later clarified on Facebook that a coalition government for Singapore was “not on his mind“. He said that what he meant was that “I could imagine a situation one day where the PAP is not dominant, but that I had no idea how that would work, or whether it could be made to work at all“

Singapore not run by PAP one day? It could happen: PM Lee

Yahoo Newsroom - A Singaporean snaps a selfie with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the 2014 Singapore Day event in London. (Photo from PM Lee's Facebook Page)

It could well happen, hinted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a recent wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times that was published online on Friday.

“It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated — you’re getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now,” he said while sitting down to the one-hour lunch interview at the Royal Garden Hotel in London last month.

Noting that he isn’t sure how a two-party system will work, PM hinted that the ruling party which has been in power since 1959 is beginning to contemplate the possibility of someday forming a coalition government.

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PAP considering coalition gov’t? Far from it!

On 11 April, the Financial Times (FT) published a report of an interview it had with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In that piece by Gideon Rachman, the paper said Mr Lee hinted that “the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of one day forming a coalition government.”

That “hint” seems to be based on a remark made by Mr Lee in that same interview: “It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated – you’re getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now,” Mr Lee was reported as having said. [Read the interview here.]

The local broadsheet, Straits Times, picked up the story and had this as its headline in its report of Mr Lee’s comments:

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PM: Naive to think SG will have stable 2-party system
In an interview with the storied Financial Times (FT) during his recent trip to London, PM Lee was asked if he could envisage a day when the PAP is not running Singapore

Mr Lee replied mildly, “It could well happen. I don’t know how it will work but it could happen.”

He then hinted that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of forming a coalition government one day. Mr Lee said, “It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated – you’re (i.e. the British) getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now.”

This is how the Financial Times reported it (11 Apr) [Link]:

When would it be necessary to form a coalition government?

A coalition government is formed in many western democracies when no single party is strong enough to command a decisive majority. This sometimes results in political gridlock and a hung Parliament. Coalition governments are also more unstable and short-lived, and prone to internal conflicts and rivalries. This can have a lasting negative effect on national level policy making and long term planning.

But beware, for the PAP may attempt to build a coalition government if the opposition gain enough seats to prevent the PAP from having an outright majority of Parliamentary seats. To prevent the opposition from completely overtaking and overhauling national policy, and exposing the rot that has accumulated beneath the surface over the past 5 decades of uninterrupted PAP rule, the PAP would have prepared for this outcome well in advance.

The PAP may try to initiate informal dialogue and communication with the opposition when it sees the opposition rapidly gaining more seats, in order to convince the opposition to approach fundamental national policy issues in the PAP way. The PAP may also try to co-opt opposition leaders and members as friendlies so that if a coalition government were to be formed one day, the PAP would not be dealing with political adversaries, but political allies.

Lunch with the FT: Lee Hsien Loong

As the Singaporean prime minister settles into his seat for lunch, I am fussing with my tape machines – two of them, just in case one fails. Lee Hsien Loong smiles faintly and says: “The NSA will give you a copy.”

It is an unexpectedly subversive remark from a man I had expected to be the epitome of earnestness. The prime minister has a reputation as a cerebral technocrat, without a frivolous bone in his body. He even looks austere – tall, slim, grey hair and dressed in a dark suit and tie. So the biggest surprise, during our lunch, is how often Lee laughs.

Over the course of the next hour, a variety of grim subjects provokes an incongruous chuckle or a broad smile – the Japanese occupation of Singapore in the second world war, the west’s mishandling of the revolution in Ukraine, China’s fear of separatist movements and the bankruptcy of Iceland. It is not, I conclude, that the Singaporean prime minister is a callous man. It is just that his way of taking the edge off the most difficult topics is to laugh while discussing them.

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11 candid quotes from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Lunch with the Financial Times interview
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong provided unusually candid answers in response to questions posed during the Lunch with the The Financial Times interview published on April 11, 2014

The interview was conducted during PM Lee’s trip to London last month. He was interviewed by Gideon Rachman, the publication’s chief foreign affairs columnist

Besides his frank replies, what was insightful about the interview was that Rachman noted how PM Lee barely touched his food, which consisted of halibut and pistachio crème brûlée.

Such a typical Chinese man who doesn’t fancy non-Chinese food.

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Food For Thought

The FT Rachman, obviously distracted by the delicious piece of grilled halibut and prime minister's pistachio crème brûlée - both largely untouched, it was noted - made an ill attempt at humour when he asked Lee if he always knew he would go into the family business, into politics.

When the guy who told pork chop soup on tap and free smoke at open windows jokes failed to respond in like vein, Rachman was rudely reminded that the PM has successfully extracted apologies and damages from media organisations, including the FT, for suggesting the Lee family has benefited from nepotism.

The Sunday Times printed in full the interview by Financial Times's chief foreign affairs columnist, Gideon Rachman. Except the menu for lunch at the Park Terrace of the Royal Garden Hotel in London, with prices indicated. Maybe they wanted to steer clear of Baey Yam Keng's gaffe with the $2.50 nasi padang meal plus bandung drink and Teo Chee Hean's $1.80 chicken rice.

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Asia News Network's dialogue with PM Lee

ASIA would benefit from strongly supported leaders in China, Indonesia and India, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a discussion with Asian editors as elections get under way in the latter two countries which are also two of Asia's largest democracies.

A strong mandate will make it easier for businesses and regional affairs to be managed in a cooperative way.

"I think it's good for Asia if the countries have capable, responsible and strongly supported leaders," he said. "Then you can do business, then you can manage regional affairs collectively and in a cooperative way."

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PM Lee appointed as new GIC chairman from today

MR LEE Kuan Yew will retire as chairman and director of the Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) board.

He will be appointed as Senior Adviser to the board from today.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be appointed as GIC chairman.

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S Dhanabalan rejoins GIC as board director
Mr S Dhanabalan will rejoin the board of GIC as a director with effect from Friday, the investment company said on Friday morning. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr S Dhanabalan will rejoin the board of GIC as a director with effect from Friday, the investment company said on Friday morning.

"We are very pleased to welcome Mr Dhanabalan to the GIC Board," said GIC group president Lim Siong Guan in a statement.

"We will benefit from his wealth of experience in finance as we strive to invest well for present and future generations of Singaporeans."

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Dhanabalan steps down, Lim Boon Heng to become Temasek Chairman

After almost 17 years, there will be a new man tasked to oversee the management of the country’s investments and assets built up over the first decade of nation building.

Yesterday, Temasek Holdings — incorporated in 1974 to hold and manage the investments and assets previously held by the Government since independence — announced that its Chairman, Mr S Dhanabalan, will officially step down on Aug 1, just before his 76th birthday next month, and take on the role of honorary adviser.

Mr Dhanabalan, a former Cabinet minister who has a distinguished public service record, will be replaced as Chairman by former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and labour chief Lim Boon Heng, who stepped down from politics in 2011.

Temasek abandons plan to install Chip Goodyear as chief executive

Former BHP Billiton boss quits job with Singapore's state investment fund three months before he was to take over.

Plans to appoint Chip Goodyear, the former BHP Billiton mining boss, as chief executive of Singaporean investment company Temasek have been scrapped. Goodyear has resigned after a boardroom bust-up, just three months before he was due to take over from Ho Ching, wife of the Singaporean prime minister.

In a joint statement, Temasek and Goodyear said that they accepted that "there are differences regarding certain strategic issues that could not be resolved. In light of the differences, both parties have decided that it is in their mutual interest to terminate the leadership transition process."

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Chip Goodyear rejects CEO appointment and resigns; Ho Ching to remain head

Former BHP Biliton CEO Chip Goodyear has rejected his upcoming appointment of CEO of Temasek Holdings. He was supposed to take over Ho Ching on 1st Oct 2009. Ho Ching will now remain CEO. In addition, Goodyear will be stepping down from Temasek’s board on 15th August. Temasek’s press release says that his resignation is due to irrecouncilable strategic differences:

Four months into the leadership transition, the Temasek Board and Mr Goodyear have concluded and accepted that there are differences regarding certain strategic issues that could not be resolved. In light of the differences, both parties decided that it is in their mutual interests to terminate the leadership transition process and hence the executive relationship with effect from 15 August 2009. Mr Goodyear will also step down from the Temasek Board effective the same date.

The Financial Times notes there has always been the question of how much freedom Goodyear would really have had in pursuing his preferred investment strategies:

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Replacing Ho Ching…what is the problem?
Warren Buffett and Ho Ching have seemingly nothing in common

One is widely considered the most successful investor of the 20th century and consistently ranked among the world’s wealthiest people. The other is the CEO of Temasek Holdings and the wife of Singapore’s Prime Minister.

But the two share one clear distinguishing trait – both have been subject to the same speculation and scrutiny for years, revolving around their successor. For over a decade now, questions have been asked – and countless media articles written – about when Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, will name a successor.

Almost nine years ago, back in 2005, it was reported that the Board of Temasek Holdings had initiated the process of CEO succession as part of a disciplined governance system. At that point in time, Ho Ching had been CEO of Temasek for three years. Four years later, in March 2009, Chip Goodyear was roped in to be on the Board, and then to take over from Ho Ching as CEO by October that year. But Goodyear resigned abruptly just three months before he was due to be CEO.

Goodyear's Shock Exit from Temasek

Charles (Chip) Goodyear will not, after all, become the first foreigner to run Temasek Holdings, the Singapore government investment company. The surprise announcement comes just four months into the leadership transition period, which should have ended with Goodyear taking over the reins from Ho Ching on October 1.

According to a statement released by Temasek late yesterday afternoon, the board of directors and Goodyear have "concluded and accepted that there are differences regarding certain strategic issues that could not be resolved". Hence they both decided that "it is in their mutual interests" to end the leadership transition process from August 15, at which time Goodyear will also step down from the board. Goodyear was appointed a member of the Temasek board on February 1 and CEO-designate exactly a month later. "It is with much regret that both Chip and the board have accepted that it is best not to proceed with the leadership transition. We wish Chip all the best in his future endeavours, and are happy that Ho Ching has agreed to continue as executive director and CEO," Temasek's chairman S Dhanabalan said. Goodyear added that he too was sorry that we are unable to continue with the leadership transition. "Temasek has a fantastic platform and I wish the board, Ho Ching and the team all the best," he said. Temasek was unable to comment on any compensation package agreed with Goodyear.

Meanwhile, Ho Ching praised Goodyear's albeit brief contribution, but left open what those "strategic issues" might be, saying that, "in the short time with us, Chip has started a number of initiatives which I believe will help strengthen the Temasek platform. I am sorry he is unable to continue with the leadership transition, and hope to complete the initiatives that he has started".

Why Ho Ching Won’t Respond to Me

I am frequently asked why Temasek or the Singaporean government refuses to respond to what I have written about the obvious discrepancies in their financial accounts. The answer is simple: they cannot respond. Let me explain some of the reasons.

First, Temasek and the government of Singapore know there are enormous discrepancies in the public financial accounts and the claimed returns of Temasek. Let’s assume for one minute that I am wrong in everything I have said about Temasek and Singapore (I am not but let us assume for a minute that I am). Singapore and Temasek could easily refute my claims with simple data they should have in front of them. I am aware they claim factors like national security in refusing to release financial data but even with this in mind, they could prove me wrong easily without releasing total reserve information or other sensitive data. The fundamental problem facing Temasek and Singapore is that I am right in my fundamental analysis and they cannot prove me wrong.

Second, Temasek and the government of Singapore cannot respond because if they provide any evidence or data it will only expose other flaws in their carefully constructed edifice. As a small boy I remember my mother telling me that if you lie, you then have to lie even more to cover up your original lie, and that the truth eventually catches up with you anyway. If Temasek and Singapore do respond in sufficient detail to try and refute what I have written, they will only create additional problems by revealing other discrepancies. For instance, even if Temasek returns are actually 17% (which they are not), this only creates a larger discrepancy given the many years of operational government surpluses which should yield a much larger total number of financial assets. In other words, providing any information will only further reveal the enormous inconsistencies of Temasek and Singaporean financial data.

On Princes, Generals, and Temasek

Have you written anything on Ho Ching?

If you have, please provide link, thanks! If not, any chance you’d be doing that soon?

I am many people would like to know how an electrical engineer by training became Chief Executive of Temasek.

Temasek a chip down

'Code of silence' fuels speculation about reasons for split Temasek had begun courting Mr Goodyear in 2007

NUS Business School Associate Professor Ho Yew Kee was "a bit disappointed after such an extensive search .... we have to start all over again."

The next step would be to see the company start another global search and relook the ranks within, says observers.

Temasek Holdings and Charles W. Goodyear mutually agree not to proceed with CEO appointment

Mr Goodyear was appointed a Member of the Board on 1 February and CEO-Designate on 1 March. He was to succeed Ms Ho Ching as CEO on 1 October 2009. Four months into the leadership transition, the Temasek Board and Mr Goodyear have concluded and accepted that there are differences regarding certain strategic issues that could not be resolved. In light of the differences, both parties decided that it is in their mutual interests to terminate the leadership transition process and hence the executive relationship with effect from 15 August 2009. Mr Goodyear will also step down from the Temasek Board effective the same date.

Mr Dhanabalan, Chairman of Temasek Holdings, said, "It is with much regret that both Chip and the Board have accepted that it is best not to proceed with the leadership transition. We wish Chip all the best in his future endeavours, and are happy that Ho Ching has agreed to continue as Executive Director and CEO." Added Mr Chip Goodyear, "I'm sorry that we are unable to continue with the leadership transition. Temasek has a fantastic platform and I wish the Board, Ho Ching and the team all the best."

Ms Ho Ching elaborated, "In the short time with us, Chip has started a number of initiatives which I believe will help strengthen the Temasek platform. I am sorry he is unable to continue with the leadership transition, and hope to complete the initiatives that he has started."

Charles 'Chip' Goodyear Temasek's nearly CEO involved in UN oil-for-food scandal

Saw this article on Charles 'Chip' Goodyear who almost became our Temasek Holding CEO, Trading with the enemy. I wonder how accurate is this article and have to take it with a pinch of salt. But as I read more about it and wonder if Mr S Dhanabalan Temasek's Chairman or Mdm Ho Ching its CEO also PM Lee's wife will file for deframation against the author.

I wondered if the ISD or MHA had not done the background checks on Mr Goodyear throughly. Mr Wong Kan Seng may have to answer to PM Lee or worst, MM Lee himself if there is a lapse.

BUT a search on the internet, I had seen some juicy news on BHP Billiton where the company was entangled with the UN Oil for Food scheme. A UK Guardian news article reported: BHP Billiton embroiled in Iraq oil-for-food scandal. Mr Goodyear was the CEO of BHP Billiton then.

At Temasek, a Foreign CEO-to-Be Won't

Plans for a foreigner to run Singapore's Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd. for the first time fell apart as the state-owned investment firm said Charles "Chip" W. Goodyear won't become chief executive after all.

The unexpected departure of Mr. Goodyear, formerly chief executive of BHP Billiton Ltd.BHP +0.37% , is likely to raise questions about Temasek's direction and its willingness to embrace change as it seeks to raise professional standards. Ho Ching, the 56-year-old current CEO who had planned to step down, will remain until a new successor to her is named.

Temasek blamed the decision on "differences regarding certain strategic issues." The board and Mr. Goodyear, a 51-year-old American, agreed to terminate the transition process and his role as CEO-designate and board member effective Aug. 15. He was to have become CEO on Oct. 1.

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