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
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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.


Toronto: Bodies and debris scattered over mile-long strip

Updated 48 min 17 sec ago
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Toronto: Bodies and debris scattered over mile-long strip

  • At least 10 people have died in the attack officials called “deliberate” but not linked to national security concerns
  • Toronto police have the suspect after a confrontation

TORONTO: The crime scene seems to go on forever, a taped off stretch of street scattered with bodies under orange sheets, urban debris and a pair of abandoned shoes.

Toronto police have arrived, and a suspect is under lock and key, but no one yet knows why the driver of a white rental van spread death and destruction under the warm spring sunshine.

“I heard screaming, yelling. I turned back and saw this truck going that way. He was going in and out, back and forth, zigzagging. He just kept on going,” said 42-year-old Rocco Cignielli.

There was nothing the customer service worker could do. Emergency services were on the scene quickly, but in some cases their efforts were in vain.

At least 10 people have died in the attack officials called “deliberate” but not linked to national security concerns.

“I saw there were people lying on the ground. I saw they were doing heart compression, and I saw two people dying right here in front of me,” Cignielli told AFP, pointing at the bodies.

It was shortly after 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) on a working Monday when the speeding van hit this commercial thoroughfare in a district of high-rise residences in the north of Canada’s biggest city.

A pale but cheery sun shone after a long and grim final winter stretch even by the region’s standards. Many local people were out and about.

Nana Agyeman Badu, a 56-year-old taxi driver, saw the van heading south toward central Toronto, where ministers from the G7 world powers were holding a security conference. Then the van swerved onto the sidewalk.

“I thought maybe he was making a delivery. But I was thinking, ‘Why would he drive in the pedestrian walkway like that?’ Very fast. Then I saw he had already run over some people,” the witness said.

“A lady was walking toward the car close to a bus shelter. The truck pinged the lady through the bus shelter and she fell back and all the broken glass fell onto her,” he added.

“I stopped and ran out to help her. The truck continued going and going and going.”

The truck smashed a yellow fire hydrant, a few newspaper dispensers and there, a bit further, lie a pair of sneakers.

“They belong to a victim,” a police officer said.

Some in a crowd that gathered by the police tape as dozens of rescue vehicles were deployed were dumbfounded. “It is a dangerous crossroads,” one woman suggested.

“Oh, it was no accident,” declared another passerby.