Lawrence Wong may be declared the Chosen One, but some netizens still want SM Tharman to be the next PM

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On April 14 (Thursday) Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong appeared to have answered Singapore’s leadership succession question by announcing that Finance Minister Lawrence Wong has been chosen as the new leader of the 4G team.

In a Facebook statement, PM Lee wrote that former Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan had facilitated a “consultation process that found overwhelming support among the ministers for Lawrence”.

Calling the decision a “crucial” one, the Prime Minister added that it would “ensure the continuity and stability of leadership that are the hallmarks of our system.”

The reaction from Singaporeans online has been, by and large, a favourable one, with many netizens perceiving Mr Wong to have performed relatively competently during the crisis that ensued due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as he co-chaired the Multi-ministry Task Force that tackled the pandemic after all.

A number of netizens, however, have remained sceptical of the choice of Mr Wong to a position that elevates him to PM-in-waiting and expressed that their personal choice would have been a different one.

One name that has been mentioned online is Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is well-respected by many Singaporeans.

The Senior Minister, 65, has been a Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC since 2001, going on to be re-elected four times. He served as the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister for eight years, and previous to that, as Education Minister for five years. He is presently the Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore’s central bank and financial regulator.

In the 2020 General Election, SM Tharman and People’s Action Party’s (PAP) slate at Jurong GRC ended up with the highest percentage of votes among all the teams that contested this year. After the polls closed, the tally from Jurong showed that SM Tharman had gotten 74.62 per cent of the vote versus Red Dot United’s 25.38 per cent.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had gotten 71.91 per cent of the vote against the Reform Party’s 28.09 per cent. And in East Coast GRC, where Deputy Prime Minister and then-presumptive successor to PM Lee, Heng Swee Keat, anchored the PAP team, the ruling party only got 53.41 per cent of the vote, against a strong Workers’ Party (WP) team’s 46.59 per cent.

On Friday morning (Apr 15), activist Gilbert Goh wrote in a much-shared Facebook post:

“Tharman is still my preferred choice for Prime Minister if I have a say. He is not only well-respected among his peers but internationally also…

Looking beyond age and race, Tharman has got to be the best candidate so far as the next PM among the lot and it’s a waste he is floundering now as a senior minister doing nothing much. Putting Tharman as the next PM will not only shore up the people’s confidence in the country but more importantly in a party that has lost much support along the way.”

He added that he does not see “much change in either putting Lawrence Wong, Ong Ye Kung or Chan Chun Seng as the future PM, they are all cut from the same cloth and doesn’t really exhibit the cutting-edge brilliance of Tharman or any of LKY’s first generation leaders.”

A number of netizens commenting on reports from The Straits Times and CNA appeared to share Mr Goh’s opinion on SM Tharman.


Lawrence Wong chosen as new 4G leader, netizens skeptical

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