Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says that ethnic considerations are still a consideration for Singaporeans when choosing a prime minister. He made these remarks during a wide ranging interview with BBC HARDTalk on Wednesday when Stephen Sackur asked whether Lee felt that Singapore was ready for a non-Chinese PM.

“It may be I’m wrong, but my sense is that Singaporean voters will look for a good man, a man who can resonate with them, a man they can identify with them.”

When asked what he thought of polls showing a majority of Singaporeans who favored Deputy Prime Mninister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Lee responded: “Yes indeed, it could be somebody like him. But these are factors that voters take into consideration when they go into the ballot box, and when they identify with you. And I think there are very few countries where you can say race doesn’t count at all.”

Lee added, “In Singapore, it’s much better than before but race and religion count. And I think that makes it difficult, it’s not impossible, and I hope one day it will happen. If you ask whether it’ll happen tomorrow, I don’t think so.”

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