Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke during his National Day Rally last night (21 August) and touched on the subject of leadership and his succession plans.
He said that Singapore has zero margins for error when it comes to leadership and that our very survival depends on it.
He also asked people to give his successor Lawrence Wong and his 4G team, the fullest support.
Snippet of his speech
Whether we are tackling COVID-19 and preparing for the next pandemic, dealing with geopolitical dangers and economic uncertainties, handling sensitive domestic issues, or planning and building Singapore for the long term.
With all these challenges, success depends on us getting three key master fundamentals right. We must always have a united people, a high-quality leadership team, and high trust between the people and their leaders.
A united people, a high-quality leadership team, and high trust between the people and their leaders. These are essential if we are to respond creatively and resiliently to challenges, year after year.
We may have the best laid schemes, but without these three fundamentals, they will come to nothing. I have emphasised these points over and over again, in different ways, because they are so crucial.
In particular, good leadership is non-negotiable. Look at the countries where governments are unstable and politics messy, swinging wildly from one election to another.
Whenever things do not work, leaders are forced out, or resign en-masse. But even after changing teams, things fail to improve.
Policies and laws either never make it through the political gridlock or they are made by one government and then reversed by the next.
Often, it is not just the leaders who disappoint, but the whole system that has failed. The result is a devastating loss of faith: not just in individual politicians or parties, but in the whole political system and the whole political class, and there is no way forward from there.
A small country like Singapore has zero margin for error. Not just Singapore’s continued success, but our very survival, depends on us having the right leaders.
Leaders with integrity, dedication, and competence; leaders with the conviction to make the tough calls and do the right thing, even when it may cost them some votes; leaders whom you can trust. We cannot afford any compromise on this.
Thankfully, for 57 years, over three generations, we have had leaders who have earned and maintained Singaporeans’ trust and confidence, who have worked closely with the people to deliver on sound policies, who have improved all our lives.
Never take this trust, nor this competence, for granted. Keep on working hard to find the right people, get them to serve, and help them to do their best for Singapore. It is our duty to extend our success formula into the next generation and beyond.
Leadership succession is therefore of paramount importance. When COVID-19 hit us, I had to put my succession plans on hold.
Now we are learning to live with COVID-19, and entering a new normal. The younger ministers have chosen DPM Lawrence Wong to be their leader. I am very happy that the matter is settled, and my succession plans are moving forward again.
I am also glad that from everything I see, Singaporeans are supportive of Lawrence and his leadership of the team. So I ask you to give Lawrence and his 4G team – your team – your fullest support.
The next few decades will be bracing but exhilarating. I have given you my take of what we can achieve, and also what may go wrong. But with your trust, we can come through whatever difficulties await.
With your support, we can turn hopes and dreams into reality, and united as one people, we can secure a brighter future in this uncertain world. Not just for now, not just for ourselves, but for every Singaporean child, for many generations to come.
Thank you and good night!