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Wanted: A fresh mandate to govern, to take Singapore into next phase

PM Lee also revisits his point about the need for ongoing leadership renewal
Monday, August 24, 2015 - 05:50
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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he would be calling for a general election (GE) "soon", to seek a new mandate from Singaporeans to take the country into the next phase.

Singapore

SINGAPORE is at a "turning point" in its history, having completed 50 successful years of independence, and the journey for the next 50 years of nationhood has just begun.

With this in mind, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he would be calling for a general election (GE) "soon", to seek a new mandate from Singaporeans to take the country into the next phase.

The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has already introduced the candidates for about three-quarters of the 29 constituencies, and many observers believe that a GE will take place within the next few weeks.

He said at the National Day Rally on Sunday: "This election will be critical. You will be deciding who governs Singapore for the next five years, but more than that, you will be choosing the team that will work with you for the next 15 to 20 years."

He stressed that not only would voters have the opportunity to set the direction for Singapore's next 50 years, they would also be determining the Republic's future.

Mr Lee painted two possible scenarios for the country - one that is ordinary with "intractable problems" such as slow economic growth, overspending and a gridlocked government, or a nation that stays "special" for the next generation because it is both a multi-racial and rugged society in which the people remain united.

"If you are proud of what we have achieved together and look forward to the future that we are building, please support me and my team," said Mr Lee, who is also the PAP's secretary-general.

It was a point he had made earlier in the Mandarin portion of the rally as well, when he called on Singaporeans to "choose wisely" at the ballot boxes.

"My team and I cannot achieve anything just by ourselves. We depend on you being fully with us, in order to do a good job for you so that, together, we can keep Singapore special for the next 50 years," he added in his English speech.

He reiterated a message that he has made a number of times in the past, including at this year's May Day Rally: The government wants and needs to reinforce the existing team of leaders - many of the core ministers are in their late 50s and early 60s - with younger talent at the coming GE.

"My team and I take very seriously our responsibility to make sure Singapore lasts beyond us," said Mr Lee, who turned 63 in February this year; his two deputies, Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, are 60 and 58 respectively.

"We will not be around forever. We must have the next team ready in the wings. The nucleus is there, brought in at the last elections and earlier," said Mr Lee, who became Singapore's third prime minister 11 years ago in 2004.

Referring to the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and his team having planned "beyond their terms and beyond their lifetimes", he said:

"(They) nurtured the next generation of leaders and the next generation of Singaporeans, and taught their successors to do the same.

"This is what my team and I have sought to do for the last 10 years. We have served you to the best of our ability. You have got to know us well. We have walked this SG50 journey together."

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