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NDR 2023: Leadership succession 'back on track', undelayed by political controversies, says PM Lee

Recent controversies will not delay the political succession plan for Singapore, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally 2023 speech Mr Lee said that the team of fourth-generation leaders are “increasingly setting the pace”He added that he has “every confidence” in prime minister-designate Lawrence Wong and his teamThe late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, he said, considered integrity and incorruptibility as crucial idealsThese ideals are the foundation on which Singapore runs a clean and effective Government, and delivers results for Singaporeans, he said

By Charlene Goh Published August 20, 2023 Updated August 21, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

SINGAPORE — The recent controversies which have drawn the public’s attention will not delay the political succession plan for Singapore, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug 20). 

He was referring to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau’s probe on Transport Minister S Iswaran who was later interdicted from duty, and the resignations of former Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and ex-Member of Parliament (MP) Cheng Li Hui following their affair. 

Mr Lee added that the Government had dealt with each of the issues “thoroughly and transparently” and gave the assurance that these incidents will not delay his timetable for renewal.

While the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted his original plan of stepping down as Prime Minister by 2022 and before his 70th birthday, his succession plans are now “back on track” given that the pandemic is over. 

“I promised Singaporeans that I would see the nation through the crisis, together with both the current and the 4G leadership,” he said in his 19th National Day Rally. 

More and more, he said, his job is to support the fourth-generation (4G) team of leaders and their agenda. 

“I want to get them off to the best start possible. They are increasingly setting the pace,” said Mr Lee, who was speaking to more than 1,200 invited guests at the Institute of Technical Education headquarters in Ang Mo Kio.

Mr Lee added that he has “every confidence” in prime minister-designate Lawrence Wong and his team. 

“We share the same core convictions. That we are stewards of Singapore, entrusted with the immense responsibility to lead and care for this nation,” he said. 

“That our time as stewards is transient, but we are building a Singapore for the ages. And that our best service to this nation is to hand over a better, stronger Singapore to those who follow us.” 

The 4G team, he said, will soon wrap up the Forward SG exercise, which was launched in June 2022. 

The year-long public consultation exercise led by the 4G leaders is aimed at refreshing Singapore’s social compact while identifying how people can contribute towards charting a new path forward together.

“The 4G will soon wrap up the Forward SG exercise, but their journey is just beginning,” said Mr Lee.

“Our nation’s future depends on them, working as one with you to take Singapore forward.”


Pointing out that in a few weeks’ time, the nation will be marking the 100th birth anniversary of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, PM Lee said that it was timely to reflect upon the values and ideals championed by Singapore’s founding fathers, and to “renew our commitment to these enduring values and ideals”. 

Singapore’s forefathers, he said, built more than a nation of “bricks and mortar, skyscrapers and a thriving economy”. 

“They created a nation founded on ideals: Justice and equality, religious freedom and racial harmony, a commitment to excellence, a fair system of meritocracy and an uncompromising insistence on honest, clean Government,” he said.  

The late Mr Lee, he said, considered integrity and incorruptibility as the most crucial ideals of all. 

“They are a foundation on which we run a clean and effective Government, and deliver results for Singaporeans,” he said. 

He recalled how Mr Lee went to Parliament on his 90th birthday to attend a sitting and also celebrated his birthday in the Members’ Room. 

Then frail and ill, he said just a few words and spoke only about one thing — he reminded all those present that Singapore must always remain clean and incorruptible, and that ministers and MPs have to set the example. 

“Otherwise, he said, we are finished,” said Mr Lee. 

“I will never forget those brief words… No matter the price; no matter the embarrassment or political cost — I will do my utmost to keep the system clean.” 

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