Lee family gives up power in Singapore after 65 years

Before Wednesday, Singapore's Parliament had only seen two changes in power in six decades.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 16:27
6 Reads
Lee family gives up power in Singapore after 65 years

Before Wednesday, Singapore's Parliament had only seen two changes in power in six decades. In the first, in the nineties, the “father of the nation”, Lee Kuan Yew, took a back seat, as co-pilot, until his own son, Lee Hsien Loong, took over in 2004. Twenty years later, It is this who happens to occupy the position of minister without portfolio, while a new generation, that of Lawrence Wong, takes the reins.

Wong, a 51-year-old economist, ensures the continuity of a recipe for success, which has turned Singapore into one of the most prosperous enclaves in the world. The paternalistic, if not authoritarian, aftertaste is still there, like the death penalty. But its most reactionary edges were already softened during the two decades of Lee Hsien Loong. He also developed the rudiments of public health and education left by his father, a true apostle of financial capitalism and private initiative. He also leaves a public space and high-quality public transportation.

In an unimaginable way for those who do not know the nuances of the city state, Lee chose as the framework for his farewell speech the union celebration of May Day, dressed in the red T-shirt of the union - let's say vertical - associated with his Popular Action Party , which traditionally takes 90% or more of the seats.

We must not forget that, according to Reporters Without Borders, press freedom in Singapore is similar to that of Bangladesh, exactly halfway to that of Russia and Belarus.

In any case, as a tax haven, Singapore hosts a large number of multinational headquarters in Asia. It is not surprising that its real estate prices are also among the highest in the world. The possibility of dying of success is never far away. Therefore, the Singapore government, to facilitate access to housing for its 4 million citizens - but not for the 1.8 million immigrants without minimum wage or the 400,000 luxury expatriates - had to develop massive programs. relatively affordable public housing. Each promotion is distributed strictly according to the demographic weight of each of the four “races” of the country, so as not to create ghettos. Although only between heterosexual married couples or singles over 35 years of age.

Lee Hsien Loong, 72, would have wanted to leave office somewhat earlier, but a change of plans regarding a successor, as well as the pandemic, got in the way. The public response to covid was co-piloted by Wong, something that catapulted him to the highest responsibilities in the Ministry of Finance, in the Central Bank and, finally, to the position of deputy prime minister. The replacement was already scheduled two years ago and its revalidation at the polls should occur, at the latest, in November of next year.

Wong, who does not come from the elite but graduated from Harvard, has stated that, like his predecessor, he has no intention of taking sides with the United States - his military partner - or China, his first economic partner. “I am pro-Singapore.” Although he warns that the unipolar world has come to an end and very busy years are coming, with serious danger for small countries that, like Singapore, live off trade and oppose protectionism.

As soon as he took office, Lawrence Wong made public his new cabinet, which includes the Foreign Minister, originally from India, Vivian Balakrishnan. Wong, obviously of Chinese origin, like 74% of his fellow citizens, has said that he is perfecting his command of Malay and Mandarin. Singapore pursues harmony, as demonstrated by the fact that the new Prime Minister, a Methodist Christian, takes office on the day when the birth of Buddha is celebrated.