SINGAPORE has officially joined the world's political dynasties with the announcement by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong that he will hand over power to the son of the island republic's founder, Lee Kuan Yew.
Singapore thus joins North Korea in keeping its leadership in the family and marks itself out from the rest of South-East Asia, where the trend is towards rapid democratisation.
Mr Goh signalled his intention to keep power in the inner circle of the ruling People's Action Party with a smooth handover by 2007 to Lee Hsien Loong, his deputy and son of Mr Lee.
Mr Goh said he did not expect personal rivalries, personality conflicts or factionalism to break out.
"By 2007, I will be about 66, so I would like to see a fresh team in charge at that point of time with fresh ideas strong enough, young enough, to attract support and carry on my goals for Singapore," he said in an interview with Singapore's The Straits Times.
Mr Goh's naming of Mr Lee jnr, a brigadier-general and now Deputy Prime Minister, had been widely telegraphed, though Mr Goh and Mr Lee snr, who still exerts great influence as senior minister and the Prime Minister's adviser, have been at pains to emphasise there is no rush to make changes. For his part, the younger Mr Lee has said he and Mr Goh are "both trying to aim for the same objective".
With a booming economy, despite Asia's economic crisis of 1997-1998, Mr Goh still has a good run left in office as the long-ruling and entrenched PAP gears up for an election by August 2002. It seems to have no chance of losing, despite growing dissatisfaction among the young over its social and political controls.