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Singapore's PM Lee resigns

by Reporter - May 15 72 Views 0 Comment

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is resigning, ending a political era for the island nation.


After two decades in power, Mr Lee will officially transfer leadership to Deputy PM and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Wednesday evening.


Singapore, since gaining independence in 1965, has been led by three prime ministers, all hailing from the ruling People's Action Party (PAP).


One of the key figures in Singapore's history is Mr Lee's father, Lee Kuan Yew. He is widely regarded as the architect of modern Singapore and served as the country's leader for a quarter of a century.


According to analysts, the transition in Singapore's political leadership indicates a shift away from the influence of the Lee family. Despite this, Mr. Lee will continue to hold a position in the cabinet as a senior minister.


In his last interview as Prime Minister, he expressed gratitude towards Singaporeans for their support during the weekend.


"I had no intention of outpacing my competitors. “I made an effort to encourage everyone to join me in running," he stated. "I believe we achieved some level of success."


He mentioned that he had attempted to approach things differently from his father and predecessor, Goh Chok Tong, by trying to "do (things) my way."


In 1984, Mr Lee entered the political arena as a backbencher, coinciding with his father's tenure in power. After working his way up the ranks, he assumed leadership in 2004, following the tenure of Singapore's second Prime Minister, Mr Goh.


During the initial years of his political career, he faced a significant amount of scrutiny. The family faced criticism for alleged nepotism and claims of building a political dynasty, which the Lees consistently refuted. Behind closed doors, certain Singaporeans playfully referred to "fami-Lee politics" and the trio of "father, son, and the holy Goh".


Throughout his tenure as leader of Singapore, Mr Lee left a lasting impact.


During his tenure, Singapore's economy underwent a significant transformation, diversifying and experiencing substantial growth. The island emerged as a prominent global financial hub and a sought-after tourist hotspot. In the last two decades, the GDP per capita of this country has experienced a significant increase, more than doubling in value. Mr Lee's government has been praised for effectively navigating the country through multiple recessions, the global financial crisis, and the Covid pandemic.


Mr. Lee skillfully navigated Singapore's diplomatic ties with the United States and China, carefully managing the delicate balance between the two superpowers amidst their escalating competition for influence in the region.

In a significant move, the government has repealed a highly debated anti-gay sex law after persistent efforts from LGBTQ groups. However, it is worth noting that freedom of speech continues to be heavily regulated.


Mr. Lee is widely regarded favorably by the people of Singapore, thanks to his political background and intellectual, paternalistic persona. Consistently topping survey rankings of Singapore's most popular politicians and consistently receiving the highest vote share in elections, he has proven himself to be a highly influential figure in the political landscape.


However, he has faced both criticism and controversy.


The government's choice to allow a significant influx of immigrants in the late 2000s sparked widespread discontent among the population due to concerns over labour shortages. With the rise of Singapore's prosperity, social inequality has surged and the gap between the rich and the poor has expanded. During Mr. Lee's leadership, the PAP experienced it’s lowest-ever vote share in both 2011 and 2020.


"Lee Hsien Loong's most significant contribution lies in his remarkable boost to the economy," remarked Donald Low, a governance expert from Singapore and an academic at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.


"However, during the initial phase of his term, these achievements were accompanied by a growing discontent regarding the widening wealth gap, the influx of foreign individuals, job competition, traffic congestion, and the potential dilution of national identity."


Sudhir Vadaketh, a political commentator, criticized Mr. Lee's government for being ill-equipped to handle the influx of immigrants that they believed was crucial for their goal of becoming a global city.


According to Mr. Vadaketh, the lack of support from Singaporeans has resulted in the perpetuation of a harmful form of racism and bigotry. He made these remarks while discussing the ongoing impact of this issue, as the founder of the independent news magazine Jom.

Recent surveys indicate that an increasing number of Singaporeans have expressed concerns about the issue of racism, particularly highlighting its exacerbation during the pandemic.


The majority of Singaporeans live in public housing, which is a complex, long-term problem that some observers claim Mr. Lee's administration has not sufficiently resolved.


Flats leased from the government for 99 years are a popular investment choice for many individuals, as they serve as a means to secure their savings. However, it is important to note that these properties may experience a decline in value over time.


In response to these concerns, the government has taken steps to tackle the issues at hand. Stricter rules on immigration, new housing schemes, and a proposed update to anti-racism laws have been implemented as part of their efforts.


In 2016, a long-standing family dispute over the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's home became public, revealing the simmering tensions within the family. The Prime Minister found himself embroiled in a lengthy and highly publicized feud with his own siblings, captivating the attention of Singaporeans as they witnessed this high-profile family clash.


In a dramatic turn of events, Mr Lee's siblings have publicly accused him of being a "dishonorable son" and exploiting their father's legacy for personal gain, suggesting that he is attempting to establish a political dynasty.


They claimed that he was misusing his authority and expressed concerns that he might be utilizing the resources of the government to target them. Several members of Mr. Lee's family, including his brother, have chosen to live abroad in self-imposed exile, citing persecution as their reason.


Mr Lee has categorically refuted all of these allegations. In addition, he has mentioned that his children have no inclination towards pursuing a career in politics.

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