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PM Lee says whether he can step down by 70 depends on the path of Covid-19

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has previously said that he plans to step down by the time he turns 70, but he acknowledged on Saturday (July 25) that the Covid-19 pandemic may have other plans for him.

PM Lee says whether he can step down by 70 depends on the path of Covid-19

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat (second from left) has been widely tipped to take over from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left).

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has previously said that he hopes to step down by the time he turns 70, but he acknowledged on Saturday (July 25) that the Covid-19 pandemic may have other plans for him.

During a briefing on the latest Cabinet reshuffle, Mr Lee, who is now 68, was asked how his hope squares with the promise he made to voters during the recent election campaign that he would stay on through the crisis and hand over the country “in good shape” to the fourth generation of political leaders before retiring.  

He replied: “I had expressed the hope that I would be able to hand over by the time I celebrate my 70th birthday. But I do not determine the path of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it will also depend on how events unfold. 

“And all I can say is, I will see this through. And I'll hand over in good shape as soon as possible to the next team, and into good hands.”

Mr Lee has been expressing his wish to step down by the age of 70 since at least 2017. 

In an interview with American buisness news network CNBC in October that year, he said that he was ready to step down, but that he needed to make sure that someone else was ready to take over.

As recently as November last year, during the People’s Action Party (PAP) convention, he said that while he would take the lead in the next General Election, the fourth-generation or 4G team of leaders would be the ones “in the thick of things”. 

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has been widely tipped to take over the premiership after he was appointed to be the first assistant secretary-general of PAP in November last year. 

When asked whether the 4G leaders have discussed or reviewed their choice of Mr Heng as Mr Lee’s successor, Mr Lee referred the question to Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, who is PAP’s second assistant secretary-general.

Mr Chan said: “We are entirely focused on helping our country overcome the economic challenges and saving the jobs at this point in time. We have no plans to do otherwise and we have no plans, no discussion on any changing (of the) plan”.

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Lee Hsien Loong Heng Swee Keat PAP Covid-19

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