PAP cadres interviewed by state media TodayOnline today (Nov 13) revealed that Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has been ruled out of the premiership race. Four anonymous PAP members, including two former PAP MPs, who claimed themselves as PAP cadres told the state media that the outgoing Central Executive Committee (CEC) usually nominate six whom they want to see in the next leadership committee.
According to the four PAP members, the Education Minister’s name was not among the six recommended. The four were tight-lipped as to why was Minister Ong Ye Kung immensely unpopular with the outgoing committee, even though he was previously shortlisted as among the three for the next Prime Minister role.
A former PAP MP told the state media that the party’s internal election is not democratic, and only 19 candidates were allowed on the nomination list:
“This is to ensure key leaders are in the highest decision-making body and also to facilitate leadership transition in a controlled manner. If they open up the process, then cadres might not elect a certain key leader into the CEC.”
Another former PAP MP who chose to be anonymous as he was fearful of repercussions from the dictatorship regime said that the “recommendation” is an informal process to teach them how to vote:
“By recommending these individuals, the CEC gives the signal of who are important to them. Cadres will get the message — who are the important fellows to vote for. And it is an unwritten rule to vote those nominated by the CEC. By that virtue, Mr Ong is not part of the inner core group of key leaders…We were told the first seven in the ballot paper were those nominated by the CEC.”
The four PAP cadres then started badmouthing the Education Minister, telling the state media reporter that Minister Ong Ye Kung lacks experience because he came to power only 4 years later after his first loss at Aljunied GRC in the 2011 general election:
“In terms of political experience, he is behind the other two. You want someone who has more Cabinet experience… It is not Mr Ong’s fault he came into politics later as he had lost a tough fight in Aljunied. But there is a need to quicken the pace of political succession.”
With Minister Ong Ye Kung ruled out, Singaporeans are now left with two equally bad options: Trade Minister Chan Chun Sing and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Minister Chan Chun Sing, a former army general, is currently leading the premiership race as he is widely-touted by the dictator Prime Minister as “obedient”. The delay in succession is evident that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is hesitant to retire fully, and most believe he will grant himself a “Mentor Minister” equivalent like his father, and rule Singapore from behind the scenes. Minister Chan Chun Sing’s pliant nature would fit the dictator’s agenda of a controllable puppet Prime Minister, who would not act unless instructed.
Although Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is perceived as a “lesser evil”, his stroke in 2016 greatly diminished his chances as his frail health is unlikely to take the stress of premiership.