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Singapore: PM Lee resigns after 20 Years in office

Singapore: PM Lee resigns after 20 Years in office

Singapore: PM Lee resigns after 20 Years in office

Singapore: PM Lee resigns after 20 Years in office

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  • Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong resigns after nearly two decades in office.
  • Lee, son of Lee Kuan Yew, ended a family dynasty as he handed over the reins to his deputy, Lawrence Wong.
  • During his tenure, Singapore’s economy grew into an international financial hub and top tourist destination.
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On Wednesday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stepped down, marking the end of an era after nearly two decades in office. Lee, the son of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore remained in politics until he died in 2015.

His resignation concluded a family dynasty as he formally handed the reins to his deputy, Lawrence Wong.

As Singapore’s third premier, Lee oversaw his country’s economic growth into an international financial hub and top tourist destination. During his tenure, the island’s gross domestic product per capita more than doubled, with the government also credited for competently steering the country through several recessions and successfully fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lee’s succession had been planned for years, but the transition was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 72-year-old will remain in Wong’s cabinet as senior minister, as former Singapore premiers have done.

In his final major speech on May 1, Lee urged Singaporeans to rally behind Wong and emphasized that the country’s stable politics had made long-term planning possible.

“As I prepare to hand over Singapore in good order to my successor, I feel a sense of satisfaction and completeness. I have done my duty, and I am very happy I chose this public service path many years ago,” he said.

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“But leading a country is never a one-man job. It is always the effort of a national team. Your unwavering support enabled us to get here, with the country in good shape and heading in the right direction.”

Anand Gopalan, who runs a financial and strategy advisory firm, noted that Singapore managed to keep up with the times under Lee’s leadership.

“With Lee Hsien Loong, … there’s a lot more focus on technology and innovation,” he said.

He added that Singapore also witnessed growth in entrepreneurship and start-ups, as well as financial technology and artificial intelligence-focused platforms, providing citizens with a vast range of career options.

Though the city-state flourished into one of the world’s wealthiest nations, it also transformed into one of the most expensive cities to live in.

“The big problems now are the diminishing jobs, both middle-class and working-class jobs, increased taxes and cost of living,” Gopalan said.

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63-year-old Alice Rani commended Singapore’s transformation throughout the years.

“I was born in 1961. There have been a lot of changes that sometimes I would say to myself: ‘Wow, it’s amazing what the government did for Singapore’,” Rani told Arab News.

“I like how our government works, and everything is going (well). There is a lot of improvement, but it is a bit expensive to live here. We can still manage, and the government has been providing a lot of (subsidies and assistance).”

Over the years, Singaporeans have enjoyed good infrastructure, especially its transportation and pedestrian-friendly streets, which are some of the best in Southeast Asia.

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