banks it spend technology disruptive digital ready non banks
A view of the Central Business District in Singapore in this September 23, 2008 file photo (representational image).Reuters file

Political parleys are at a frenetic pace in Singapore, with the ruling party leaders sitting down to decide who will become the prime minister of the island state when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong steps down.

There have been indications for some time that the next change at the top level of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) will see the emergence of a new crop of leaders -- what is referred to as the 4G leadership.

According to the latest reports, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat could in all probability be selected to succeed Lee, who has said he would step down when he turns 70.

Heng, a former central banker, will be elevated to the position of the first assistant secretary general of the ruling PAP, the South China Morning Post reported, citing local media channels. There are two assistant secretary generals in the party who deputise Lee, the Secretary General of the PAP.

According to the reports, trade and industry minister Chan Chun Sing could be elevated as the second assistant secretary general.

According to a report by This Week in Asia, the power transition in Singapore will also see almost the entire lot of the current leadership -- the 3G line-up -- bowing out of the Central Executive Committee.

Singapore PM
Singapore PM LeeReuters

When the elevation of Heng happens, he will be only the fourth prime minister of the City state. Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew was in power until 1990. Goh Chok Tong, who became the first assistant secretary general of the party in 1986, succeeded Lee in 1990 and served until 2004.

The current prime minister, who is the son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the premier in 2004 and has said he would step down around 2022, when he turns 70.

Singapore has a closely held tradition of selecting the premier through a tightly followed party process. In the run-up to the generation change in leadership, the two assistant secretary generals -- Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam -- steeped down from the Central Executive Committee, the highest panel of the party.

"In Singapore, we are proud to say that for the last 53 years, we have been able to find ... leadership teams that have been able to abide by this DNA and this set of ethos. And I think the younger generation of leaders are similarly focused on this," said trade and industry minister Chan Chun Sing, who was seen as a frontrunner for the position.

Heng is widely seen as the person to preserve the connection with the city state's past. In his early years he had held the coveted bureaucratic post of the principal secretary to Lee Quan Yew, under whom Singapore became an independent nation in 1959.

The 57-year-old has also worked as the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the central bank, between 2005 and 2011. He became the finance minister in 2015, but a stroke he suffered a year later had given raise to concerns about his health.

PAP enjoys near total allegiance from the electorate in Singapore and has never faced any real challenge so far.