Who will be the next top pol? Singaporeans weigh in on who’s hot – and who’s not

Ministers clockwise from top left: Chan Chun Sing, One Ye Kung, Desmond Lee and Lawrence Wong. Photos: Change.org, One Ye Kung/Facebook, Lawrence Wong/Facebook, Desmond Lee/Facebook
Ministers clockwise from top left: Chan Chun Sing, One Ye Kung, Desmond Lee and Lawrence Wong. Photos: Change.org, One Ye Kung/Facebook, Lawrence Wong/Facebook, Desmond Lee/Facebook

Singaporeans are placing bets on who will be the next political heir apparent to Lee Hsien Loong – starting with who they definitely don’t want to see in the top job.

After Heng Swee Keat’s surprise announcement yesterday that he was stepping aside, more than a thousand people have put their names to a petition opposed to Trade and Industry Ministry Chan Chun Sing getting the nod, while an internet poll found Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung and Education Minister Lawrence Wong among preferred options. 

“Our worst fear is that PM Lee will push Chan Chun Sing for the position again, which will be disastrous for Singapore. If you too [care] for our political future, please sign this petition to voice our concern, and persuade PM Lee not to put up Chan Chun Sing,” the Change.org petition opposing Chan read. 

The three men are among Singapore’s fourth generation of leaders from the ruling People’s Action Party, a cadre Heng previously helmed. Yesterday’s development threw succession plans up in the air, causing some panic given Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s stated desire to retire at 70 next year. Singaporeans don’t get to vote on who serves as prime minister, but that did not stop many from wanting their voices to be heard on the internet. 

The “Say NO to Chan Chun Sing for PM!” petition went live within hours of Heng’s announcement. None of those who signed the petition specified concrete reasons for not supporting Chan other than they could not “stand him” or that they needed someone “more down to earth.” Chan has been in the spotlight over leaked audio recordings and that one time he thought cotton came from sheep. 

A Twitter poll that drew more than 4,000 votes resulted in Ong and Wong getting the most support at 36% and 37% of the vote, respectively. Ong served as education minister from 2018 until taking on the transport portfolio last year. Wong was the National Development minister for five years before taking over at education. 

Meanwhile, National Development Minister Desmond Lee received a measly 4% of votes. 

For now, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean has been sworn in as Singapore’s acting prime minister for when Lee is absent, at least until the next potential successor is chosen. Heng will also give up his finance portfolio when the cabinet reshuffles in the coming weeks, but remains deputy prime minister and coordinating minister for economic policies. 

Other stories you should check out:

Heng Swee Keat no longer in the running to become Singapore’s next leader

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