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:
1. 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.
2. 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”.
3. 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.
4. Lee Kuan Yew became PM at 35, Goh Chok Tong at 49 and Lee Hsien Loong at 52. PM Lee had previously indicated his wish to reverse the trend of an aging PM.
5. The lack of a clear choice for the next PM of Singapore is something the PAP is not used to. When Goh Chok Tong took over from Lee Kuan Yew in 1990, Lee Hsien Loong was already waiting in the wings.
6. Social and Family Development minister Chan Chun Sing is 45 years old.
7. Education minister Heng Swee Keat is 53 years old.
8. Both have been given high-profile political jobs. Chan Chun Sing was promoted to a full minister in September 2013. Heng Swee Keat was tasked to organise the Our Singapore Conversation and chairing the committee coordinating the marking of Singapore’s 50th year of independence.
9. It appears Chan Chun Sing is the forerunner. He will be 51 in 2020.
10. Or that the future PM is not even in the present Cabinet now.