(From left) Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing and Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung are widely regarded as those who are in contention for the job of Singapore's next prime minister.(Photos: Straitstimes/Ong Wee Jin, Pmo, Lim Yaohui)
The younger generation of Singapore leaders is "keenly aware" that leadership succession is "a pressing issue", given that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said he intends to step down after the next General Election.
"We are conscious of our responsibility, are working closely together as a team, and will settle on a leader from amongst us in good time," said the 16 office holders on Thursday (Jan 4) in a joint response to media queries.
The 16 are: Chan Chun Sing, Chee Hong Tat, Grace Fu, Heng Swee Keat, Koh Poh Koon, Desmond Lee, Masagos Zulkifli, Ng Chee Meng, Ong Ye Kung, Janil Puthucheary, Indranee Rajah, S Iswaran, Sim Ann, Tan Chuan-Jin, Josephine Teo and Lawrence Wong.
They added: "Political stability has been the hallmark of Singapore and smooth leadership succession has instilled confidence amongst Singaporeans and our friends around the world."
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong had said on New Year's Eve that having the People's Action Party's fourth generation leadership in place and settled is an "urgent challenge" in 2018.
Writing on Facebook, he also said that he hopes the younger office holders will pick a leader amongst themselves in six to nine months' time.