Prime Minister of Singapore
Lee Hsien Loong was elected as Singapore’s Prime Minister in 2004, succeeding Goh Chok Tong. That same year, he was selected as the secretary-general for the political party known as People’s Action Party. In 1984, he became a parliamentarian after he was elected by the people of Ang Mo Kio GRC constituency to represent them in the law-making house. Between 1990 and 2004, he served as the vice Prime Minister of the country, and also the finance minister until 2007.
Before starting his political career, Loong joined the Singapore Armed Forces in 1971, and became an officer three years later. Within his 13 years of service, he occupied lots of positions including the Chief of Staff of the General Staff, and Director of the Joint Operations and Plans Directorate. In 1983, he became the youngest military officer in the history of his country to be promoted to the position of a brigadier-general. That same year, he was put in charge of the rescue team for the Sentosa cable car disaster. Prior to leaving the service in 1984, he was a commanding officer of the 23rd Singapore Artillery, a unit under the Singapore Army.
Loong, however, began his political journey right after leaving the army. At age 32, he was elected into Parliament to represent the Teck Ghee SMC constituency. Sooner than later, he was named a Minister of State at the Defense Ministry, and also at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. In 1985, he became the chairman for the economic committee formed by the government to transform the country’s finances which was then at a recession period. It was within this period that the committee recommended that there should be a reduction in costs of business and taxes, but also asked for the implementation of the consumption tax. After impressing with his work, he was appointed as acting minister for trade and industry in 1986, before being named the main minister the following year.
As his political journey continued, he rose to the position of the deputy Prime Minister in 1990 where he served under Goh Chok Tong. The hardworking politician combined his new work and that of the trade and industry before vacating the latter position after he was said to be suffering from lymphoma in 1992. Six years later, he was given the opportunity to head the Monetary Authority of Singapore, before being appointed as the Minister for Finance in 2001. It was under his tenure that the goods and services tax was raised from 3% to 5% in order to accumulate more revenues and boost the economy which was affected by the SARS epidemic, and the Iraqi War. He was also instrumental in the easing of the restrictions that were required to become a citizen of the country.
After being appointed as the Prime Minister in 2004, Loong introduced lots of initiatives including the abolishing of the half-day work on Saturdays, and also expanded the Baby Bonus in order to increase the number of child births in the country. He later increased the number of parliamentarians with no constituency representation. During his tenure, he strengthened his countries relationship with other countries such as Malaysia, United States, and China.
The Singaporean politician was born on February 10, 1952 to Kwa Geok Choo, an attorney, and Lee Kuan Yew, a lawyer and politician. His father served as the country’s first ever Prime Minister. His siblings are called Lee Hsien Yang, a business executive, and Lee Wei Ling. In 1978, Loong got married to Wong Ming Yang, who was known to be a physician. The marriage produced a child called Li Xiuqi in 1981, before Wong’s death a year later after battling heart attack. He later became the husband of Ho Ching in 1985, and the father of Haoyi, Hongyi, and Yipeng. In 2015, he underwent a prostatectomy surgery after it came up that he had developed prostate cancer.
Loong began his formal education at the Nanyang Primary School before joining the Catholic High School. During his time at the latter, he was a member of the school’s music band where he usually played the clarinet. He later attended the National Junior College. He was a recipient of the Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship, as well as, the President’s Scholarship which aided him to study at the Trinity College of the University of Cambridge where he read mathematics. Lee was one of the top students in his group and in 1973 he was named as a Senior Wrangler. The following year, he graduated with a first-class honors, and also obtained diploma certificate in computer science. He furthered his education at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, a component of the Harvard University, where he studied public administration and obtained his Master’s degree certificate in 1980.
In 1996, he, together with his father who was then the Senior Minister, were subjects of a conflict of interest allegations after concerns were raised about the purchasing of some luxury condominiums. According to reports, the two government officers bought the products from Hotel Properties Limited, which had his Loong’s uncle, Lee Suan Yew, as its director.
Furthermore, there was an issue about his annual salary. Between 2008 and 2012, he was paid US$2,856,930 each year, which was a 25% increment in the previous. After public agitations, he slashed his pay by 28%. As of September 2020, he held the record as the world’s top earning government head.
In 2010, Loong, together with other former Prime Ministers of his country, threatened to file a lawsuit against American media firm, The New York Times Company, managers of the International Herald Tribune newspaper for their write-up titled “All in the Family”. According to the politicians, the publication created the impression that they did not obtained their positions on merit. The newspaper later rendered an apology to the government officials and later paid an amount of US$114,000 to him, Goh Chok Tong, and Lee Kuan Yew. He has also been criticized for working with and favoring his relatives.
During his career, he has received lots of accolades. In 2008, he was awarded with Peru’s Order of the Sun medal. Two years later, the Olympic Movement, bestowed on him the Olympic Order award.
[…] are still important in Singaporean society to this very day. For instance, one of his own sons, Lee Hsien Loong, went on to become the Singaporean Prime Minister himself in […]