Singapore PM Lee says ready to step down in couple of years; no successor picked yet

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, said a new election could be called any time before 2021, when the current five-year parliamentary term ends. (Reuters)
Updated 20 October 2017
0

Singapore PM Lee says ready to step down in couple of years; no successor picked yet

SINGAPORE: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was ready to step down in a couple of years time and his successor is likely already in the cabinet but a clear choice has yet to emerge
In an interview with CNBC released on Friday, Lee, 65, the son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, said a new election could be called any time before 2021, when the current five-year parliamentary term ends.
“I am ready,” said Lee, when asked if he was prepared to step down in the next couple of years. But he said he needed to make sure there was a successor ready to take over, adding: “there are people in the wings. The question is, who it will be and that will need to be decided.”
“I think it’s very likely that he would be in the cabinet already but which one, well that would take a while to, to account,” Lee said when asked he was close to finding a successor.
Lee was speaking ahead of a visit to the US starting Sunday — including a meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House.
Local media and analysts say Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Chan Chun Sing, a former army chief and a minister in the prime minister’s office, are among potential successors.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam could be a candidate, although he has repeatedly said he does not want the job and he would be a surprise choice because he is a member of the minority ethnic Indian community. Singapore’s leader since independence has always been a member of the majority Chinese community.
Questions about succession in the wealthy Southeast Asian city state — which has been governed by the People’s Action Party since independence in 1965 — came into focus when Lee, who has twice survived cancer, took ill during a televised speech last year and stumbled at a podium.
Doctors subsequently said there were no serious concerns.
Lee Kuan Yew’s successor, Goh Chok Tong, was identified at least five years in advance while the current leader, who first entered politics in 1984, was also groomed for the position long before he took office in 2004.
Prime Minister Lee said he was saddened by a feud with his siblings which played out in the public earlier this year over the fate of Lee Kuan Yew’s family home.
“The matter is in abeyance. I’m not sure if it’s solved,” Lee said in the CNBC interview, adding he and his siblings had not recently communicated.
Lee Hsien Yang and sister Lee Wei Ling accused their elder brother of abusing state power to try to save the house as a historic monument in defiance of his father’s wishes.
The prime minister called for an extraordinary special sitting of parliament in July and subsequently said that debate failed to find any substantiated evidence of abuse of power. He has said the government must decide what to do with the property.
“Perhaps one day when emotions have subsided, some movement will be possible. These things take time,” Lee said.


Withdrawal from nuclear arms deal ‘dangerous step’ for US: Moscow

Updated 21 October 2018
0

Withdrawal from nuclear arms deal ‘dangerous step’ for US: Moscow

  • US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday
  • Trump announced US plans to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, signed in 1987

MOSCOW: Withdrawing from a Cold War-era nuclear weapons treaty with Russia as President Donald Trump has announced he plans to do is a dangerous step, Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned on Sunday.
“This would be a very dangerous step that, I’m sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation,” deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS state news agency.
The treaty is “significant for international security and security in the sphere of nuclear arms, for the maintenance of strategic stability,” he stressed.
Russia condemned what he called attempts by the US to gain concessions “through a method of blackmail,” he added.
If the US continues to act “clumsily and crudely” and unilaterally back out of international agreements “then we will have no choice but to undertake retaliatory measures including involving military technology,” Ryabkov told RIA Novosti news agency.
“But we would not want to get to this stage,” he added.
On Saturday, Trump announced US plans to leave the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF, signed in 1987 by the then US president Ronald Reagan.
“We’re the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement, so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” said Trump.
But Ryabkov on Sunday denied Trump’s accusations, throwing the accusation back at Washington.
“We don’t just not violate (the treaty), we observe it in the strictest way,” he insisted.
“And we have shown patience while pointing out over the course of many years the flagrant violations of this treaty by the US itself.”
US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to arrive in Moscow on Sunday.
“We hope that we will hear from him during meetings, tomorrow and the day after, more substantively and clearly what the American side intends to undertake,” said Ryabkov.
Earlier a foreign ministry source told Russian news agencies that the US move was connected to its “dream of a unipolar world,” an argument that Ryabkov also advanced.
“Apparently the existence of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty creates problems for establishing a line of total US domination and supremacy in the military sphere,” he said.