2011/05/14

Singapore's founding father announces retirement - 2ndlead

SINGAPORE, May 14, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore's founding prime minister
Lee Kuan Yew announced Saturday his retirement from the city-state's
cabinet to make way for a younger generation leaders.

The surprise statement came a week after the opposition scored a major
breakthrough in elections that revealed deep resentment against the
People's Action Party (PAP) which has ruled the country for more than
50 years.

Goh Chok Tong, Singapore's second premier, is also to retire,
according to a joint statement from the men.

"We have studied the new political situation and thought how it can
affect the future... The time has come for a younger generation to
carry Singapore forward in a more difficult and complex situation,"
the statement said.

"After a watershed general election, we have decided to leave the
cabinet and have a completely younger team of ministers to connect to
and engage with this young generation in shaping the future of our
Singapore."

Lee's son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, is due to form a new
government soon after the PAP was returned to power in the May 7
polls.

In the previous cabinet, the 87-year-old Lee held the influential post
of minister mentor, while Goh was senior minister.

Although the ruling party won 81 out of the 87 elected seats at stake,
the opposition managed to break the PAP's stranglehold on power by
scoring its best performance ever.

 The opposition faces tough restrictions on political activity but six
small parties took advantage of the election campaign to demand
reforms and greater accountability.

Foreign Minister George Yeo was the biggest casualty of opposition
gains when his five-member People's Action Party (PAP) ticket was
toppled by the Workers' Party.

In addition the PAP's share of all votes cast -- the equivalent of an
approval rating in a country that does not publish surveys about
government performance -- fell to an all-time low of 60 percent from
67 percent in 2006 and 75 percent in 2001.

"The prime minister and his team of younger leaders should have a
fresh clean slate," the two former premiers said in their statement,
adding that  younger generation "wants to be more engaged in the
decisions that affect them"

"But the younger team must always have in mind the interests of the
older generation..... who has contributed to Singapore must be
well-looked after," the statement said.