Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s estranged brother won’t stand in the July 10 election, removing a potential obstacle for the ruling party as it seeks to retain its 55-year grip on power.
“I have chosen not to stand for political office because I believe Singapore does not need another Lee,” Lee Hsien Yang said in a Facebook post after the nomination deadline passed.
“I do not seek power, prestige or financial rewards of political office. I hope to be a catalyst for change.”
The younger Lee’s announcement as the nine-day election campaign kicked off on Tuesday deflated the hype built up after he joined the opposition Progress Singapore Party.
The move fanned expectations he could stand as a candidate against the incumbent People’s Action Party, which has won every contest since independence in 1965.
“This makes the campaign less about the family and personal issues and more about the country’s future,” said Bridget Welsh, honorary research associate at the Asia Research Institute, University of Nottingham Malaysia.
“He has more capital outside than as a candidate. It is a very steep hill to climb to victory in Singapore and his chances of winning were low.”
While Singapore doesn’t allow opinion polls, most analysts expect the PAP to easily win again in a race that will see all 93 seats contested by at least two parties for just the second time.
Still, any narrowing of its victory margin could reflect an erosion of confidence in its new generation of leaders, particularly regarding how they are handling the pandemic.