The PAP’s newly elected Central Executive Committee at the 2018 PAP Conference and Awards Ceremony.
SINGAPORE — The election of the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) new top decision-making body is a “major step forward” for political renewal, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as he signalled Cabinet changes are afoot “in due course”.
On Friday (Nov 23), the ruling party unveiled its slate of office-bearers on its new Central Executive Committee (CEC), with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, 57, confirmed as its first assistant secretary-general.
This paves the way for Mr Heng to succeed Mr Lee, 66, as the party’s secretary-general, and prime minister after the next General Election (GE) due by April 2021.
In a post on the PAP’s Facebook page, Mr Lee said the younger political office-holders had been meeting in recent months to discuss who should lead them, and decided on Mr Heng.
Mr Heng, in turn, asked Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing — who was named second assistant secretary-general — to be “his number two”, Mr Lee said.
“Chun Sing has agreed and the younger team has endorsed Swee Keat’s decision,” Mr Lee wrote.
The prime minister said that after the CEC met on Friday, he held a party caucus to brief Members of Parliament (MPs) on the new CEC line-up, as well as on the consensus reached by the younger office-holders on who should lead them.
The MPs endorsed Mr Heng as their next leader and Mr Chan as his deputy, said Mr Lee.
Mr Lee, who has said he would not wish to continue as head of the Government beyond 70 years old, reiterated that the leadership transition is “always a complex and delicate matter”.
He said Mr Heng and Mr Chan have “complementary strengths and make a strong pairing”, having worked with them and watched them grow in their various responsibilities.
“They and the other younger office-holders have gradually come together to work as a team and make the most of the strengths of each team-member,” he wrote.
“I am confident that they will continue to grow in experience and touch, and steadily win the confidence and trust of Singaporeans.”